Monday, January 12, 2009

"Career Fair"

I saw the best minds of my generation, trapped in business suits, clutching leather briefcases, being siphoned into a job market that doesn't really want or need them. I saw our innocence disappear behind full smiles at a moment's notice, with empty conversation flooding the parameters of the room. I get it. We'll pretend that we know about your regional, for-profit organization and agree that your website's graphic design is phenomenal. But I know the truth. You're a savant of suave, a hired company pawn, sent as a walking billboard to this pre-professional audience of skeptics. You remind us of our desire to be wanted, to be needed, or simply, to be.

I join you in this superficial dance, though a sheer look of horror is plastered on my face. Stop looking at my blue travel case. I picked it up at a conference once, and it's better to carry this than my Jan Sport book bag. I only mimic the movements of others, hoping that the flaws in my character don’t permeate my appearance.

Hello, beautiful girl that skips our mandatory class every Friday. Yes, I too am glad that we maintain this need-based friendship, and will forward you the homework assignment tonight. I notice that you are extending your arms to embrace me. If we had but time, I would hold you in my arms and whisper sweet phrases from my favorite lyricist into your ear. But here, in this dimly-lit auditorium, I shudder to think of their response to our warm embrace. You should know that the corporate world frowns upon hugging. I hope that my sweaty, nervous palm extended will suffice.

You see me walking, gripping my writer’s notebook, hoping that my internship experience will impress you. Yes, I know that I didn’t match my tie with my suit, but you shrug and offer a polite courtesy. I flinch, and then look at the unfamiliar lines of your palm to gain some semblance of a hint to your personality. I need to know what makes you tick. I shake your appendage firmly while looking into your eyes and nodding. Oh my name. You hold onto my hand too long. Now it sits in your grasp like a dead fish. I panic and say my name louder than expected. We decide to sit down and I hand you my resume. Unfortunately, my resume is Word processed like everyone else.

You grow tired of this dance and promise to contact me with any future opportunities. I brighten for a moment, gather your free mug and pen, and saunter toward the next booth. I know full well that I must be the one who initiates further contact regarding employment, but I know my role. I resign to my station and continue to play the game.

I grow tired of this rat race. I wish to return to my room to watch successful writers yell at each other for a half-hour. But, alas, I must remain diligent. I crave self-worth and mustn’t find myself absent of opportunity following graduation. Yes, I do like receiving your organizational charts and business cards, but I’m afraid that you just don’t want me. Let’s stop this charade and enjoy a refreshing stroll along the embankment of our pond. You like strolls, don’t you? Perhaps an afternoon beverage jaunt will be adequate.

I apologize for my intrusion. I promise not to break character again. I humble ask for employment. I’ll reprise my role…and continue to play the game.

Mike Benjamin, II

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