June 6, 2001
A little late in the
game, a senior invents one of her own
by Annie Ruderman '01
Some time ago, suspecting
that June might find me without prospect of gainful employment,
I did a very wise and judicious thing: I asked my mother how long
I could live at home before she kicked me out. Her first instinct
was a maternal one: "My children are always welcome at home."
Then she paused.
"Do you have a job?"
"Well, you can live
at home two years, maybe three."
if I say no?"
"Are you looking
I paused. "I want
to know how long can I just sit on the couch, play with the puppy,
and watch Jeopardy?"
came the ruling. "A year if you get on the show." I am
one who can cash in on Daily Doubles from the safety of the living-room
sofa, but would no doubt miss my own name under the pressures of
glaring studio lights and Alex Trebek. Little did I know my mother
was a venture capitalist.
The rest of my classmates
had sold their souls for multibillion-dollar jobs with 24-plus hours-a-day
work schedules sometime in mid-September. That or Harvard Med. I
had watched as they trekked back and forth for wine and cheese at
the Nassau Inn, and I even attended some of the information sessions,
based on the quality of alcohol being served. Then they started
boarding trains for New York City at unbelievable hours of the morning
dressed in three-piece suits and carting along résumés
better polished than most people's wedding invitations. I have to
say, the 5:45 a.m. Dinky had less appeal than cocktails. I stayed
I commenced the "job-a-day"
plan one week after I dumped my thesis on the doorstep of the history
As far as logistics go,
the available jobs come from a variety of places: a general backlog
of employment opportunities that have caught my eye over the course
of the year; Career Services pages on Princeton's Web site (and
other universities where high school friends have lent me passwords);
the combined efforts and ideas of my roommates. I even (with some
pride-swallowing) acquiesced to a suggestion from my mother.
The plan is wonderfully
Every day (Monday-through-Friday work week) I apply for a different
The stipulations are
1. The job must be something
that I legitimately want to do. So no reporting positions in Idaho
or desk jobs in corporate America.
2. I cannot apply for
the same type of job two days in a row. If I apply for a reporting
position with a smallish newspaper on Monday, Tuesday had better
find me looking for a different medium, or (better yet) a different
line of work.
3. No compromising my
morals. So the black market and conservative publications are also
The benefits are many:
I have an ever-ready
supply of dinnertime conversation. I can churn out a pretty
individualized cover letter in a half-hour flat. I have also become
increasingly open-minded about the kinds of things I am willing
and would like to do. And the game is relatively foolproof; if I
mess up a cover letter, title, spelling, or whatever other picayune
detail is grounds for the wastebasket, tomorrow's
a fresh start and a new
field. It's like Ground- hog
Day for the unemployed.
Plus, of course, I might
actually get a job.
If not, I've got six months
to soak up the
wisdom of Alex Trebek
before I'm down and out.
A year, if I get on the
The final word on Annie's
pages written vs. library fines accrued contest: 161 Pages, 11 point
font. Firestone didn't stand a chance. (firstname.lastname@example.org)