May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 10:02
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you are probably aware of the Hunger Games franchise. If you have somehow managed to avoid its pervasive influence, however, Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of young-adult novels focuses on a post-apocalyptic society called Panem, where a tyrannical Capitol rules 12 outlying districts, forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games. One boy and one girl from each district fight each other to the death until one is crowned victor.
In the opening scene of the film, protagonist Katniss Everdeen exclaims in anguish, "24 of us go in, and only one comes out!" Until recently, I hadn’t really given this line much thought; I always just figured that the creation of the Hunger Games ritual was a manifestation of the author’s own political commentary or desire to create a tortured teenage love affair between two of the participants. But once I became a senior and full-time employment began to burden my mind on a regular basis, "The Hunger Games" began to take on a whole new meaning.
Last semester, I attended a recruitment information session for a mid-sized, respected management consulting firm. There were probably 100 others like me in the room, donning business professional attire and scribbling furiously in Moleskine notebooks. My friend nudged me as we sat down and whispered, "I hear they only hire one person from Georgetown a year." The summa-magna-whatever of the room likely relaxed his shoulders, but I started sweating profusely. I then remembered Katniss’ exclamation and couldn’t help feeling like I was competing in a Hunger Games of sorts myself.
I know that, while the economy is still in a dire position, finding a job in 2012 or 2013 is by no means the absolute worst position to be in. I once interned for a woman who was hired from her internship at Lehman Brothers in 2008 and was later told they weren’t sure where to put her upon graduation. However, it can hardly be said that it’s easy to find a job nowadays, as was made brutally clear to me by my friend’s comment in that room.
I’ve begun to notice there are two different types of job-hunters in the Class of 2013: Katnisses and Peetas. After they arrive in the Capitol, Katniss and Peeta share a conversation that is probably ingrained in the minds of thousands of Americans as a result of the film’s ubiquitous trailer. Frustrated, Peeta laments, "I wish there was a way to show them that they don’t own me, that I’m not just a pawn in their Games." Katniss, considering this, replies, "I just can’t afford to think like that."
The same is true for those of us engaged in the hunt for full-time employment. There are those who, like Peeta, seek something other than a desk job at a bank, consulting firm or major corporation. They want to "explore their passions," find a job that they will "truly enjoy" and not dread getting out of bed for in the morning. They want to fight back against the campus recruiting process or the institution of corporate America. Then, there are those who, like Katniss, don’t necessarily care that their first job may not be their "dream job." They have a goal. They want to make money — maybe to pay back their loans, maybe to be that guy who buys tables at clubs every weekend — and they know what they need to do in order to get to the position they want in five or ten years’ time. They are doing what they need to survive; the first job is simply a means to an end.
Maybe I’ve come up with this theory because the Katnisses and Peetas of the world are just the ones who won’t shut up about this. I’m sure there is a gray area that people seek between the Peace Corps or Teach for America and the corporate machine. I’ve found it harder to be like Peeta recently, however, and have noticed some Katniss-like tendencies on my part. Quite frankly, the prospect of being unemployed come May 18 is scary. It makes me want to do anything for financial stability or to avoid moving back in with your parents. But the most advice I can give to myself and others in my position is to recognize that the process will be challenging — perhaps even more challenging than the majority of our educational pursuits — but the hard work will matter in the end.
And if nothing else, I know the joint KFC and Taco Bell in Leavey Center is hiring.
Alyse Amato is a senior in the College.