Friday, November 4, 2011

I have finally enhanced my online presence enough to have the NYU Wasserman Center call me to ask why I keep being mean to them on Twitter

My most loyal readers will remember that I began this blog back in 2009, following the advice of a counselor at the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development, who told me to "enhance [my] online presence because all the jobs are in social media."

I was more than miffed by this response, as I had inquired as to how to market a degree in "Equality Studies" from The Gallatin(TM) School that awards diplomas in "Individualized Study," aka "Fuck around and read books for ~four years, and as long as you sound semi-smart at the end we'll graduate you."

In fact, I was so irritated I started the Shtetl Chic Media Empire (with matching Twitter account! twitter.com/shtetlchic) to rant about how out-of-touch the NYU Wasserman Center is.

I figured I could put my critical analysis and writing skills to work for myself, seeing as how nobody else would hire me to use them.

The project quickly expanded, as the NYU registrar proved equally horrendous an institution, as did the U.S. State Department, the City of New York, food porn, New Orleans City Council, and the democratic process at large, among others.

And apparently - despite having under 300 Twitter followers - I have more influence than I think.  I am so annoying, in fact, that a certain "Heather Tranen" from the NYU Wasserman Center called me this afternoon to "open up dialogue" about how the Wasserman Center might better serve NYU students.

I was more than happy to oblige Ms. Tranen, who very patiently listened to me explain how the Wasserman Center's offer to have a 15-minute Skype call with unemployed NYU alumni, for example, could be perceived as condescending.

Don't offer tips for "acing the interview," I suggested, when interviews are just as hard to come by as jobs.

Moreover:
  • Don't imply to Gallatin(TM) students that our degrees don't matter, especially after so many go into debt and therapy just for attending NYU.  Degrees in individualized study prove success in self-direction, time management, and creativity, all useful skills to have in grad school and the workplace.
  • Educate career counselors about AmeriCorps, which functions as basically the backdoor entrance to the nonprofit sector in this country.  Let students know what sort of alternative direct-service employment options are available through the federal government, and how they may be used to further students' ambitions in public administration.  It's not enough to throw some PeaceCorps brochures in the waiting room of the Career Center.  I did an AmeriCorps service year because I couldn't find a real job after graduating college.  It was really difficult on many levels, especially because it didn't pay much. Maybe the Wasserman Center could have given me resources on personal budgeting and nonprofit management.  Instead, my counselor told me she wasn't "familiar" with AmeriCorps, but maybe I could Google it for her. [UPDATE: It should be noted that AmeriCorps and other similar "volunteer" organizations can have a destructive influence on the very issues and populations they intend to serve, mainly by ostracizing more locally appropriate initiatives and their advocates. That being said, it is not the most misguided federal program to alleviate poverty.]
  • Monitor the internal CareerNet job postings database so that advertisements for "Cat Whisperer Wanted" and sketchy English teaching positions in Taiwan don't supersede real and relevant career advancement opportunities.

And above all, I told Ms. Tranen, don't be confined by what Wasserman Center directors think you should say to students and recent graduates.  Tell us what we want to know, like what is a 401(k), what sort of graduate degrees should we select to further our career goals, and how do we market an NYU degree in regions outside of New York (such as here in Louisiana), where they don't really give a shit about my Yankee education, and in fact disdain it a little.

So thank you for reaching out to me, NYU Wasserman Center, and I hope that this counseling session has been productive for you.  I know I feel better.

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