Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Crappy Job #4: Last-Picked Intern

[Note: Since this is my 50th blog post, I've made it super lengthy.  And as a special commemorative bonus, I've included a drunken rant.  You're welcome! ]

I went straight from college to graduate school, mostly because getting accepted to graduate school seemed easier than finding a job in the post-9/11 recession.  Unfortunately, my graduate program required its students to obtain a summer internship in finance after the first year.  To me, it seemed like an impossible feat.

At the time, the work experience section of my resume listed the following: gas station attendant, shoe saleswoman, and waitress at Big Pecker’s Bar & Grill.  I had applied for finance internships while I was in college but hadn’t so much as gotten an interview.  My frustration over not being able to land a respectable summer job reached a boiling point during my junior year while I was studying abroad in London, prompting me to send the following drunken mass email:

Well, I've sweated my way through a dozen online application forms, telling these snotty firms how I flipped shoes at Payless (i.e. facilitated the maintenance of a conducive purchasing environment) and how I wore a skirt up my [@$$] while waitressing at Big Peckers (i.e. utilized suggestive selling at B.P. Inc. to increase profit shares).  But after all of this superior BS-ing, I have received five letters this week alone saying, "We sincerely appreciate your interest in our firm but regretfully can not pursue your application at this point in time" (i.e. we used your application to [do something inappropriate]).  […]  Now I’ve devised a back-up plan, and I'm letting you guys in on it.  First, I'm taking my Optimization textbook, my TI-82, and my raincoat straight to the pawn shop.  Then, I'm going to hop the first plane to Jamaica and begin my career behind the tiki bar a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail.  And until I learn how to flip the bottles and really start raking in the tips, I'll be shacking up with the hot guy from How Stella Got Her Groove Back because he will have realized that Stella is a lifeless, loveless investment banker who gave up her dream of making furniture whereas I am carefree and ready to devote my life to piña coladas and making love at midnight.  […]  Any of you who want to cast aside your cover letters and join me, simply respond to this email with “[something highly offensive]", and I will keep you updated as the plan progresses.

Now that I was a graduate student, I hoped it would be different.  Most of the work was being done for me.  The director of my graduate program had compiled our resumes into a book that would be distributed all over Wall Street.  So what if I was the loser of the bunch?  I had been hand-picked by the admissions department of a prestigious university to be the token female!  Even if I was the flawed diamond in the display case, surely someone would still be happy to have me.

A week after the resume books were sent out, I received no less than a dozen calls asking to set up an interview.  Suddenly, I was brimming with optimism!  I would be a professional business lady after all.  No longer would my resume be a source of embarrassment.  Finally, I would be able to replace “Server at Big Peckers” with a position that reflected my true potential.

My optimism was short-lived.  I soon realized that our prospective employers were interviewing every student and then choosing the best candidate.  My rejection letters arrived in the form of a fellow classmate boasting that he had been offered the position for which I had also interviewed.  Time and time again, I had to smile and say, “Congratulations on being the superior candidate.  You must be thrilled.”  I was like a fat kid waiting to be picked for a sports team, and between every round of picks, I was forced to run laps.  By "laps" I mean a grueling four hour job interview during which I was interrogated about my lack of work experience.

It came down to me and one other guy.  The hiring season ended, and rumors of unplaced interns ran rampant through the halls of the math building.  Even my back-up plan fell through – the hateful manager of the Applebee’s in Times Square felt that I was under-qualified to waitress in such a classy establishment.  I had never been more depressed.

Then, in a suspicious coincidence, two intern positions suddenly opened up at the company where one of our professors worked.  I suspected that our professor had gone to Human Resources and said something along the lines of, "Listen, the unemployable rejects from my program need an internship, so bring them in and let them sit around on the fortieth floor for a couple of months.”  Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly grateful, but the whole thing was kind of humiliating.

At first I took comfort in the fact that I wasn’t alone.  The other guy in my program was there, and every day we ate lunch together in the cafeteria at a table reserved for losers.  But our lunches turned awkward after it became clear that he was the favorite intern.  I blame the fact that our quantitative mentors weren’t accustomed to working with women.  There was only one other woman on the entire floor, and it took me awhile to figure out that she wasn’t a man.  She had short hair, wore masculine-looking suits, and stomped around the office acting strangely aggressive.  This was my female role model.  Her advice: act like a man.

I spent the summer drafting reports that would never be read by anyone.  When the summer was over, many of my classmates were offered a full-time position after graduation.  I didn't receive such an offer – not even when the other intern turned his offer down.  It was pretty obvious to everyone (myself included) that I was a bad fit for that particular group.  The experience propelled me to seek out a smaller company with cooler, younger employees.  I found just such a company, and they were happy to have me.  There, I not only excelled but also met my future husband.  Accepting that job was probably the best career decision I ever made, and it was all thanks to my crappy internship that sent me running in the opposite direction.

And I lived happily ever after for the next two years.

No comments:

Post a Comment