Web Exclusives:On the Campus...

March 27 , 2002:
It's a hard sell in a soft market
Looking for a job or just re-enrolling?

By Liriel Higa '02

The following characters are based on current seniors. Everything has been uttered or written at some point or another, with only minor hyperbole.

Career Services moderator: Thank you for coming to this panel discussion today entitled: "I'm a senior. My plans for next year are fill-in-the-blank." The panel participants here were chosen randomly from the senior class. You might have noted that a couple are shackled and bound to their chairs. Unfortunately, aside from "How is your thesis going?," the question "What are you doing next year?" has the greatest potential to invoke violent negative reactions. However, we felt it was important that you underclassmen had an accurate idea of the various paths out there. Let's turn to our first panelist, Beth. Beth is a Wilson School major who is also in the Teacher Preparation Program. She will be teaching middle school next year.

Audience member: You're Woody Woo and you're not doing investment banking or I-banking? What's with that?

Beth: I happen to enjoy teaching, and I'm good at it. The Wilson School tries to promote public service, and unless you consider one's individual financial interest to be "public," I can't think of anything that embodies public service more than teaching.

Joe: I'm Woody Woo, and I'm going to be teaching next year too: computer science in Singapore, thanks to Princeton-in-Asia.

Other audience member <snickers>: C'mon, Joe. Admit you're really looking for a wife.

Joe: It's true that one of my objections in studying abroad in Hong Kong last year was to find a future wife — and that I was unsuccessful. But I figure, with a whole year . . . But really, I'm not going there just to get hitched.

Mehmet: I'll admit it. I need a wife. Or an H1-B visa.

Moderator: Mehmet's case is somewhat unique. Mehmet is an international student from Turkey. He majored in computer science and yet now is hoping to work in a theater next year. And isn't it true that most of your friends are English majors and you say "deconstruction" and "catachresis" more often than "strings" and "code?"

Mehmet: Yes. I originally thought I was going to move to Silicon Valley and make a ton of money, but I discovered my love for theater at Princeton, so now I want to move to Berkeley and direct plays. The only problem is, I need a visa to continue to live here, and they're scarce for types like me who prefer creating great works of art as opposed to technological wonders. Marriage would solve matters, but I'm just not at that stage yet with my girlfriend. It's gonna be tough...

Evans: You want to talk about tough, try applying to law school. Applications to Georgetown are up 60 percent this year!

Moderator: Yes, we have seen a considerable rise in applications to graduate school in general this year. Although Evans has thought through his decision well, I'd like to stress that no one should ever think of law school as a default option. I'd also like to change subjects at this point and have the panelists talk about their experiences at job interviews. Lucinda, we haven't heard from you yet.

Lucinda: Interviews. Riiiight. I haven't had any interviews, so to speak. Just skinny letters saying we're saving our time and yours by not granting you an interview. So now I'm in conscious denial of the fact that graduation is in three months. I've thrown away my nylons and even started picking my classes for next semester. Could someone please unbind me now?

Moderator: Lucinda is a classic example of the senior that doesn't-have-a-clue despite the fact that it's March. In fact, she represents a good proportion of the class, about a third. These feelings of anxiety and not wanting to acknowledge future change — the Peter Pan syndrome, we like to call it — are common, although Lucinda has a particularly severe case. Unfortunately, it seems we've run out of time. I'd just like to encourage you all to sign up for the Career Services dinner on proper etiquette when eating with potential future employers. Lobster will be served.

You can reach Liriel at lshiga@princeton.edu