June 6, 2001 On the Campus

The job-a-day plan

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?" she asked.


"Well, you can live at home two years, maybe three."

Comforting. "What if I say no?"

"Are you looking for one?"

I paused. "I want to know how long can I just sit on the couch, play with the puppy, and watch Jeopardy?"

"Six months," 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 behind.


The Plan

I commenced the "job-a-day" plan one week after I dumped my thesis on the doorstep of the history department.

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 straightforward: Every day (Monday-through-Friday work week) I apply for a different job.

The stipulations are few:

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 no-go's.

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 show.


The final word on Annie's pages written vs. library fines accrued contest: 161 Pages, 11 point font. Firestone didn't stand a chance. (ruderman@princeton.edu)


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