The Unbearable Banishment: Job hunting follies

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Job hunting follies

I received a call from Moody’s Investor Service. They wanted to know if I would be interested in interviewing for a position working from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight.

No, I would not.

Aside from the fact that I would never (NEVER) see the girls, I wouldn’t feel good about working for Moody’s. They had a hand in the economic collapse. They’re the shitheads who rated toxic investments as AAA because it was lucrative for them to do so. I feel less ashamed collecting unemployment than I would being a part of their machine.

* * *

I interviewed at an investment bank this afternoon. I had to meet with three different people. All you do sit there and talk but it’s amazing how draining it is. When I left, I needed a nap. Three interviews just for a lousy 4-week project. It was overkill. Employers can afford to be choosy. But I'll take it if they'll have me.

* * *

I've mentioned before that I'm going through this transition without the benefit of a college degree on my resume. That I made it at far as I have without one has always been a wonder to me. I talk a pretty good game in the interview room. That's how I got into bastions of snobbery like JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley.

When I was in my 20s, I was reluctant to reveal that I didn't have a degree. You get judged real fast and rising above a stereotype is a lot of work. It's probably what motivated me to develop a good rap.

[For the record, while all my friends disappeared into various universities, I spent six years in the Coast Guard, which was a fantastic experience. I had a hand in saving more than a few lives, thank you very much.]

After revealing my secret shame, some people would carry on about how their degree never did them any good and how they ended up working in a field that's wholly unrelated to their area of expertise. Some even went so far to say that college a waste of their time. I think some of them sensed my unease and were being supportive. Others sincerely felt their degree was meaningless.

I received an email from a headhunter with the "perfect" position for my skill set. (They all say that.) He noted that I left my educational background off my resume. I wrote back that it was not an error and that I am, in fact, self-taught.

Unfortunately, this client has no flexibility at all re educational requirements. Will certainly hold your resume for future opportunities. Sorry!

The next person who tells me they wasted their money going to college (and means it) is going to get a swift, accurate kick in the nuts/ovaries.


Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

It's the employers who need that kick in the nuts/ovaries.

I elected to do a 2 year college diploma for nursing instead of a 4 year B.Sc. Nsg. for the main reason that I wanted the practical skills and not the crap courses like statistics and sociology and stuff that has no relevance to my ability to be a clinical bedside nurse.

More people show go to colleges and get diplomas and certificates and come out with usable skills instead of a degree that (often) does them no good in the real world other than clutter up their resume.

Keep talking that good rap, UB... someone will see the talent, degree-less though it may be, that resides within you. I have my fingers crossed for you.

March 25, 2010 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankfully you don't have to be friends with those you work with. Your real friends don't give a damn whether or not you have a degree - ultimately, they only care about your friendship with them. The friends that matter, at least.

Isaac Bashevis Singer said it best, only fish swim in schools. At the end of the day, you got to see the world for six years (or parts of it), and got paid to do it. That likely trumps most of what I picked up at Iowa (my alma mater) in the 90s.

Good luck on the job search, man.


March 25, 2010 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ponita: I should have gotten a degree in SOMETHING. Employers are only partially interested in the degree itself. They want to see that you started and finished something and have the documentation to prove it.

Sonny: Man, I love I.B. Singer. My other favorite "initial" author is H.L. Mencken. Have you been raiding my bookshelves? Again?

March 25, 2010 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Here In Franklin said...

I imagine you learned a lot more in the Coast Guard than I did in college. But I wouldn't trade my time there for anything.

March 25, 2010 at 3:24 PM  
Anonymous annie said...

I always told my students that it was important to get as much education as they could because they absolutely would be judged on it. It's sad and a waste, but it's the truth.

Setting a "degree" mark is the lazy way to screen applicants and employers know this and do it anyway, but for many people, it is an indication of just how motivated they are. It is the rare person who skips college and really thrives which says a lot about you that the headhunter obviously saw since he is keeping you on file.

Good for you for not bending on your principles with the Moody people. I know you can't eat principles but sometimes the damage to your soul outweighs everything else.

March 25, 2010 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Pueblo girl said...

Annie put it so well...

But there is also the aspect that past your thirties, experience and track record starts to count for far more than a piece of paper and what you did for a couple of years in your late teens/early twenties.

Chin up!

March 25, 2010 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

HIF: I always felt like the guy standing outside with his nose pressed against the glass. Aside from the helpfulness of a degree, college looks like a pretty fun way to spend your youth.

Annie: I can assure you of one thing; The Daughters are going to college. I'll find a way to pay for it but they're going.

PG: To give full credit, many employers are/have taken my years of experience into account. But those early years were tough, tough going.

March 25, 2010 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I have a brother in a similar situation (not the brother). He's one of the smartest guys I know. Much brighter than I am. But he hasn't got a degree. And I do. I hate my job at the moment. But, I am much better off than he is, at the moment.

You'll land. xx

March 25, 2010 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Macy said...

I'll bet you any money that the lack of college degree wouldn't be mentioned at all if you were already working.
Because everyone wants what they can't get.
Maybe a degree is like a trampoline - there to help you bounce back if you fall.

PS I'd never work in the financial services (or JP Morgan) again for any money. Good luck in your search.

March 25, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

I went to college and grad school and now I'm a full-time housefrau...

I've got some of my own weird feelings/demons/guilt/etc about the whole school thing.

I will say, though, that we have a tradition in my family of people finishing college later in life (my beloved and brilliant great-uncle Harold taking the prize with a B.A. at 67!!!)

The right people will see your total worth anyway, I know it.

March 25, 2010 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ellie: At the risk of sounding arrogant, I'm not the least worried about not landing on my feet. I have no doubt. But the process itself is so annoying.

Macy: I don't feel very good about the financial industry anymore. I've met so many horrible people who feel the industry is without fault. But that's where my experience lies and that's where my bread is buttered.

Leah: See that? There's hope for me yet. And with your background, you can always transition out of housefrau mode.

March 25, 2010 at 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i watched my oldest sister and brother opt to marry at 18, and bypass opportunities for college. they both worked their asses off over decades, and have managed to do well in their respective professions - but they did it the hard way.

i tell my children, and anyone who asks, that going to university doesn't necessarily make you any smarter, but it sure as hell can make your life easier...

have to agree with the other folks here - any employer who will use a degree as a mindless litmus test is certainly a place you don't want to be.

March 25, 2010 at 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Sid said...

Yeah, degrees certainly mean a lot to employers but I definitely think I learnt more practical skills in my first week of work than I did in my four years of uni. I think that my university should have focussed less on the theory and given us more GIS/remote sensing exercises.

And don't even get me started on the worthless MSc students that get into this business.

March 26, 2010 at 2:45 AM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

1. Good on you for making a tough decision regarding the career/family balance.

2. I'll definitely never say that I wasted money at college, but I do think a degree is overrated for most occupations. Way of the world, unfortunately.

March 26, 2010 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: I got the hell out of Ohio to prevent me from marrying at 18. I was ill-equipped to handle marriage so young. It would have crashed and burned. No doubt about it, landing in the world without a degree is certainly the hard way to do it.

Sid: If I thought I could get away with it, I would just add a degree on my resume. But I'm the guy who would get caught.

AFM: Actually, it was an easy choice to make. JP Morgan stripped me of my family and I don't ever want to go through that again.

March 26, 2010 at 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow this really opens up a can of worms. As you know I have A who graduated from BGSU & can not find anything making more then $11.00 an much for having a college degree. Student loans in the thousands (even after we had a nice chunk put away for her). Then there is the younger sibling M who is where she is because of college but also in debt beyond her eyeballs with student loans. It a win-lose situtation!
You will find something when the time is right good for you that you put family first something dad would never have done. For the record I was 22 when I got married...still to young & wish I would have experienced the whole college thing.

March 26, 2010 at 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Greg T said...

I think I should be the poster boy for no college education and where I am today. Without getting into details, ask your sister MT. Sometimes I look at my friends that are working mediocre jobs and have HUGE school loan payments. I don't know if it was luck or skill, but I am thankful that's for damn sure.

March 26, 2010 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

MT: No doubt things will be MUCH better when your nieces are older. ...Won't they?

Greg: We should start a support group or a club. We can insist on "NSL" tattoos. (No Student Loans)

March 27, 2010 at 2:16 PM  

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