This blazer is the best thing you have ever bought.
October 8, 2015 8:36 PM   Subscribe

 
Oh golly. My mom bought me a blazer (I'm 31, and when I wear it I feel more like Sinbad than Carrie Brownstein) and still insists that if I want extra income (I finished college, went to grad school, followed all the baby boomer recommendations) I should get a paper route. A PAPER ROUTE. Like that's a) even a thing anymore or b) easy to just ask for, get, and earn more than $8/hr for.

The "my parents" authors if this short story are very, very authentically of the milieu within which they set their tale.
posted by witchen at 8:49 PM on October 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well that was dark.
posted by PMdixon at 8:51 PM on October 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


Ah jeez. I'm glad my mom's a little more prescient than I am. She seemed to know what I'd be doing before I did. She always figured I'd move around and do random jobs and weird crap. I've never lived in any one house or apartment for more than a year or so, but I haven't "traveled" but certainly have moved "around." My Dad's often asking when I'm going to get a real job or whatever, but I think he even knows better. Truth is I don't know what the fuck to do. I don't want to sit at a desk for 40 hours a week... or even work 40 hours a week. What's the point of living if you have to spend 10 hours a day of it being fucking miserable? Freelance would be the way to go, but I am in no way self-motivated. I am not a self-starter. Honestly most of the things you're supposed to say you are I am not. I'm stressed out under stress, I am easily distracted, I get along with others and people like me but I am abrasiveness and weird. Jeez. I remember one time I applied for some job through craigslist. The listing said they were looking for a "wolf." I think I deleted it out of deep shame and embarassment, but I remember distinctly going in way too far with the wolf metaphor, talking about my hunger and rending of flesh and what not. Meanwhile I have no relevant experience, no necessary skills, and I'm just going in on this weird wolf metaphor. And that was bullshit too, if I were an animal it wouldn't be a fucking wolf. Fuck, I'd probably be a housecat.

I like this short story, like a deluded contemporary fairy tale.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:58 PM on October 8, 2015 [31 favorites]


Finally, the boss comes out of her office. "Please, step into my office," she says.

Lost me there. Seriously, fuck off. For 20+ years in my industry, the boss has been female. No itals. This isn't an oddity.

I think this goes great until the last para -2, where the alternative option in the narrative fiction goes ""Mostly, I'm just eager to learn, and ready to do whatever you need. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty, and I work well independently and as part of a team," you say, with a poise and intelligence suggestive of a person who could have easily passed grade eleven science if only they'd applied themselves. The interviewer smiles." and the next para is:

"The interviewer regrets that you didn't take this opportunity to talk about your independent work experience in paid jobs - even low-status, menial ones - rather than just your scholarship, internships and other voluntary service. She wishes you goodbye and swivels her poorly designed, low-rent office chair to the pile of 25 more already-screened resumes from people with an equivalent level of real work experience and well-written cover letters. Sighing, she makes a note on your resume - "Pleasant, OK, apparently capable, lacks work experience, no compelling argument for this job" and moves on to the next sheaf in the stack."
posted by Miko at 9:03 PM on October 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this sounds about right.
posted by kafziel at 9:22 PM on October 8, 2015


Miko, I'm not sure you're getting the core conceit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:28 PM on October 8, 2015 [73 favorites]


I get it, it's just that I live it as a hiring manager, so of course I'm going to see a few additional dimensions that the parents (and applicants) generally don't. The wrong things have been assumed to be of value: yeah. Good luck.
posted by Miko at 9:35 PM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"It's a competitive salary, with full benefits, obviously, and a pension, and full-time hours. You know, a job! That's what a job is."



*LOLs of despair*
posted by louche mustachio at 9:40 PM on October 8, 2015 [38 favorites]


Good luck.

Well that was dark.
posted by PMdixon at 9:42 PM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Right, but the core concept here is that it takes place entirely in the imagination of radically out of touch boomers. A big deal is made of the boss being a woman because to the mind of the narrator, that's unusual and remarkable still because their brains haven't taken in new information about the world since 1980. And you get the job because the notional author has no idea what getting hired actually looks like. That it's unrealistic and dumb and disconnected from the reality of jobseeking and hiring is the joke.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:44 PM on October 8, 2015 [88 favorites]


Ive had several female bosses. One was a bio phD from Tokyo University that she got in the late 60s (and Japan is way the fuck more sexist than the US) in Tokyo, i had another boss who was an engineering manager at Amazon in Seattle, and a third in the bay area who technically works product for several current sites that you have most likely heard of, but i don't want to mention since we both still work there.

anyway, for the 10 plus years I've worked in tech in 3 major cities and 2 giant corporations about 40 percent was with a woman as my direct boss.

i know that's anecdotal, but "fuck off that never happens" ain't exactly true.
posted by lkc at 9:52 PM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also I have never been hired because of a blazer. In fact the last job offer I got required I promise to never wear a suit in the office again. #thatsthejoke #fuckingpeoplewhothinkitsthesixtiesforever
posted by PMdixon at 9:55 PM on October 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The wrong things have been assumed to be of value: yeah. Good luck.

This is precisely the point. The idea here is that "Your Parents" in the story think that you can easily get a job on the spot in 2015 by walking into a generic office with a resume and talking about how you'll work hard and you're a great team player. As you've pointed out, it rarely works that way.
posted by zachlipton at 9:57 PM on October 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


It's so easy to get a job at Business Office, first find the seven shards of the employment crystal hidden in the different themed section of this city!
posted by The Whelk at 9:58 PM on October 8, 2015 [90 favorites]


Well that was dark.

Things aren't great. Why bullshit about it? I also spent 10 years part-timing, double/triple-job-ing and paying dues before getting into positions where I could hire one out of my 125 or so applicants for an entry-level job. Pope Guilty, A+++ on reading comprehension, but the fictional "parents" here aren't wrong about everything, funny as they may seem. What amazes me is not so much how many people are competing for the same job, but how many blow it on the most simple, basic measures of job-readiness at the resume and interview stage. How many people make easy mistakes, or just never got the experience they need in their preparatory years.

Pope Guilty, A+++ for reading comprehension. I get that it's in a parent's voice, with the parents being puzzled as to why their principles aren't working and the script isn't unfolding as they'd wish. But I'd also say this piece is a bullshit piece of fiction, and one with an underlying perspective about a lack of understanding, and I question the legitimacy of that perspective. Some boomers may be "radically out of touch," but a lot of them are still controlling the senior management of large organizations, so it's not like they don't get it. There are economic and structural realities at work which anyone entering the workforce needs to be really aware of. We all know the world of work has changed, those of us trying to tread water in it maybe more acutely than anyone. And sure, some people's parents may not be attuned to that, but it is also ridiculous for anyone to blame their parents for their inability to get a job, especially in the rich agar-agar of collegiate careers programs, mentoring, internships, etc. that are specifically designed to orient people to the way workforces are structured today. Parental advice and wisdom has always been valuable and still is, but everyone in the workforce should be attuned to other, more field-specific and more objective sources of information, and many more of those exist today than at any point in history. Living in a time of economic contraction sucks, but this isn't the first generation that has faced that challenge, nor the first that has found their parents' advice no longer applied in specific.
posted by Miko at 10:00 PM on October 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's a business _factory_, Whelk. Plus there are so many business transactions it just leaves you wanting to watch R-rated movies when you get home.
posted by lkc at 10:01 PM on October 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


haha oh it hurts

it physically hurts

(I am typing this while wearing one of my shelf of blazers, I am part of the well-clad lie)
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:02 PM on October 8, 2015


Parental advice and wisdom has always been valuable and still is

[citation needed]
posted by PMdixon at 10:03 PM on October 8, 2015 [20 favorites]


Feel free to rock on without it. From my perspective, though, people that listen to advice from multiple sources, compare that with regard to observed reality, and make smart and grounded choices for themselves based on an analysis of all this evidence stand a better chance of moving ahead than those that think there's nothing they can learn from anyone, and also better than those that think they only need to listen to peers and cheerleaders.
posted by Miko at 10:09 PM on October 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think a lot of Pepe are upset cause they by and large listened to thier parents and all the right authority figures and they came out the other side with a life-destroying mountain of debt, no jobs, and no prospects and everyone calling them lazy for not finding these mythical jobs that just seem exist, out there, in the world inside their parents heads.

i mean, they didn't mean to, but they basically convinced thier kids to get in bed with loan sharks, a more genteel version of the scam pulled by payday loans and for profit colleges and "job training centers". and "internships lead to jobs!"
posted by The Whelk at 10:40 PM on October 8, 2015 [64 favorites]


Bribery works, less bullshit and you get to return the Blazer.
posted by clavdivs at 10:44 PM on October 8, 2015


She is young (40) like you (23) so she gets what you're going through.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:45 PM on October 8, 2015 [22 favorites]


but it is also ridiculous for anyone to blame their parents for their inability to get a job

Well, this particular person didn't blame their parents but rather their own inability to stop sexting long enough to go out and get a job.
posted by mantecol at 10:47 PM on October 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


My mother stubbornly believes that it's just 'budgeting' that means people don't buy properties nowadays - all those flat screens and holidays. I pointed out that my house loan repayment was actually more than my salary for a long time (double income household was how we afforded it). No amount of ramen compensates for that. She's stopped saying it in my presence.

They've stopped trying to give me work advice thank god, but only after my sister's husband (same industry, lower level) gave them a serve. Which was it's own particular lemon to suck. They have this odd view that casual workforce is something like freelance, so if I can't set my own hours then I'm just being lazy. I'm an academic, so some of my hours I can set but I can't just decide not to teach certain classes. Also that you should take any job you get, which is how I wind up working way too much on things that actually don't matter or help me in my career, it's just business.

I fuckin love my blazer and I have had people not recognise weekend-GA because weekday-professional-GA looks so different, so I swear it is magic.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:52 PM on October 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


but it is also ridiculous for anyone to blame their parents for their inability to get a job

I think you still aren't getting the conceit.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:55 PM on October 8, 2015 [46 favorites]


At this point my best guess is the author beat him up in junior high school.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:58 PM on October 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


At this point things have changed so much that any advice given to you by someone "senior" to you is pretty much a joke. Going to a career counselor was one giant LOL experience the last time I tried. I get easily ruled out for pretty much anything and don't seem to qualify for anything. I think of how easy it was to job hunt the last time I was unemployed (it took me two months) and--hahahahahahahah nowadays. Now you have to be 100% perfect AND have 100% done the job before because nobody's going to train you and nobody cares about your transferable soft skills or any kind of degree beyond using your lack of one or what specific one you got to rule you out from 1000 resumes.

People keep lecturing me to have hope and be optimistic, but how? Short of like, God delivering me a job (and I thought he had and I still didn't get those EITHER), I don't see any reasonable way of things getting better happening.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:34 PM on October 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Replace "blazer" with "old school tie", and this article more or less exactly describes the rigour that underlies the hiring process amongst the elite.

Now that *is* dark.
posted by falcon at 11:47 PM on October 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know the thing that is opening my parents' eyes to the bullshit they were fed all their lives?

Snowden.

Seriously, the boomers are big James Patterson and Lee Child fans and are glancing back and forth from their books to their newspapers and having these amazing little epiphanies.

It's cute.
posted by fullerine at 11:51 PM on October 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


"English language and literature? You might be over-qualified..."

:lostit:
posted by xqwzts at 11:59 PM on October 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


After a certain point it takes a strong, willful effort not to view the entirely of American society as one huge ponzi scheme.
posted by The Whelk at 12:26 AM on October 9, 2015 [58 favorites]


After a certain point you kinda have to take your blazer in for alterations so it'll hold a knife and a flask.
posted by mikurski at 12:32 AM on October 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


After a certain point it takes a strong, willful effort not to view the entirely of American society as one huge ponzi scheme.


My new theology that God is an absurdist and we are his punch-line helps
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:33 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


in the rich agar-agar of collegiate careers programs, mentoring, internships, etc. that are specifically designed to orient people to the way workforces are structured today

what

oh you mean all those unpaid internships that orient people to the fact that there are no ACTUAL PAYING JOBS
posted by the_blizz at 12:34 AM on October 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


I know, jenfullmoon, it's true. I know someone who's done trade shows in industry A for ten years; rejected for a role doing trade shows in industry A-2) because of a "lack of related experience". Another person (also with a decade's experience, in a specialized field looking for just the same thing) hunted for two years, after having made the mistake of leaving the country for a bit. Any resume that makes HR people have to think goes in the bin, because they can afford it, five of the exact person they want applied.

What amazes me is not so much how many people are competing for the same job, but how many blow it on the most simple, basic measures of job-readiness at the resume and interview stage. How many people make easy mistakes, or just never got the experience they need in their preparatory years.

True. If you're employed, don't leave the country, don't veer from the job path you fell upon when you were young and confused, don't get sick, don't be weird on FB, don't annoy coworkers by microwaving fish products at lunch or wearing dated clothing, and you can maybe survive.

If you're unemployed, don't get sad about it (because that messes with hustle mojo and nepotism is the only way through), and take what you can get. Or go back to school and hope the very practical vocation you chose will still exist when you graduate.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:45 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Is this something you'd have to have a parent to understand? :P
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:55 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


oh you mean all those unpaid internships that orient people to the fact that there are no ACTUAL PAYING JOBS

"So, this is an unpaid internship?"
"Yes. Think of it as a doorway to business success"
"Like your business?"
"Yes"
"That can't pay interns"
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:11 AM on October 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


Painful lols. The older generation of my family still thinks you get a job by walking around handing out CVs, and if you're poor you're just not Trying Hard Enough.
posted by toerinishuman at 2:31 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


"don't be weird on FB"

This is the darkness I always feared would consume us, and it has.
posted by perianwyr at 2:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


My dad was convinced that I just needed to get a job, any job, with a "good company" and then I could stay there until retirement.
posted by octothorpe at 2:57 AM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


So I guess this is why anyone of our own generation that we talk to about maybe moving back to America one day basically says "nooo don't do it if you already have employment"
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:40 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Old Economy Steve
posted by Captain l'escalier at 4:06 AM on October 9, 2015 [20 favorites]


My dad was convinced that I just needed to get a job, any job, with a "good company" and then I could stay there until retirement.

This is my dad, only in light of current politics and economy he suggests the Federal government, or at least a state government.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:13 AM on October 9, 2015


Frankly, this article seems to lack the kind of perspective that a person might have if only they'd taken eleventh-grade science. The author really should have spent more time applying herself back then, not hanging out with that Tim kid. Tim? Tom? Tim. I heard he's actually on drugs now, so.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:20 AM on October 9, 2015 [50 favorites]


My complete career history, insofar as I can remember it:

Piano player at a church
Theater techie
Dishwasher
Office temp
Theater techie
Office temp
Theater techie
Office temp
Homeless insane person
Script reader
Submissions editor
Office temp
Editor for an online newsletter
Whatever it is I do now

My parents gave up a long time ago.
posted by kyrademon at 4:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


Oh, I forgot a three-day stint at a toy store. That should go after dishwasher.
posted by kyrademon at 4:44 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Tim? Tom? Tim. I heard he's actually on drugs now, so.

A friend of mine in high school tried marijuana once. You know where he is now? DEAD. Think he looks pretty cool now?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:50 AM on October 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


My favorite bit:

Inside her office are the hallmarks of the life you want: a novelty mug, photos of her kids doing various activities requiring an upper-middle class income to participate, a computer, a motivational poster (advertisement for mortgages), and a landline.

But also I agree with Miko. Now that I've been on the hiring side for some years, the surprising thing is how unprepared and unrealistic most applicants are, and not in the ways that this article is skewering. And concomitantly, how many people have just checked out of the labor market totally, opting instead to be supported by their boy/girlfriend or parents, or however they make it work. (And I get all of the structural reasons why people are unprepared and unrealistic, but it never stops being startling when someone finds a new and particularly inappropriate way to demonstrate that during an interview.)

I can remember getting a little bit of the ridiculous out of touch advice when I was younger, similar to what the article is parodying but even more old school, but almost everyone in my family of my parents' generation had oddball "careers" already so expectations were pretty low on that front. Mostly the advice in my family was "go to graduate school and then you can get more interesting work" which turned out to be correct, so I'd be impolite to make too much fun of them, really.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:54 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


> "... the surprising thing is how unprepared and unrealistic most applicants are, and not in the ways that this article is skewering."

The article isn't saying that it is the applicants who will be unrealistic in these particular ways.
posted by kyrademon at 4:56 AM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Look as somebody who hires people it's really important that you understand that the horrors of the job market are everybody's fault but mine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:57 AM on October 9, 2015 [38 favorites]


After a certain point it takes a strong, willful effort not to view the entirely of American society as one huge ponzi scheme.

Phew, I thought it was just me. It's the #1 reason I won't have children.
posted by STFUDonnie at 5:05 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


>Right, but the core concept here is that it takes place entirely in the imagination of radically out of touch boomers.

I am so tired of the "we hate boomers" mentality espoused by certain people today. Firstly it's just another divisive ploy ... black against white... rich against poor ... citizen vs. immigrant ... young vs. old ... that takes our concentration away from the real issues and real people we should be fighting against. Secondly I would remind you that it was "boomers" who brought you woman's lib,the ERA (well we tried to anyway), birth control, civil rights amendments, the Summer of Love, Free Speech and guilt-free sex. You're welcome.
posted by AGameOfMoans at 5:09 AM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


I have given my son little to no career advice and he's managed to build a busy career as a stage lighting designer. Now that he's 26, I am pestering him to get health insurance but I do have to do some dad stuff sometime.
posted by octothorpe at 5:09 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you, boomers! We'll try our best to live up to your example of uh that stuff.

Now back to our program.
posted by griphus at 5:13 AM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


Pretty good, but they forgot the part where in the morning when I wake up, I also read several articles about the industry in which I am applying for a job. The same way I do every day. Because this industry is my Passion. And so long as I follow that, I am guaranteed success. Success, even if I do have that crazy piercing in my nose like a punk rocker! A punk rocker with infinite pain tolerance, because it hurts just constantly. That's why people didn't get facial piercings in the past, it's the constant pain.
posted by capricorn at 5:15 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


The one time I took Classic Boomer Advice and pounded the pavement and handed out resumes to everywhere i could find I ended up working twelve hours a day, four to five days a week, in what I can only describe as a front for disorganized crime.

When I quit that job and went legit for the first time in my life (because that is also Good Advice from my Elders who Know Better) and got an office job with a major, highly-reputable non-profit, I ended up not only getting paid less but had I taken them up on their offer to drop out of college and join the ranks of Management (literally the only way I could've gotten myself a raise after 3+ years of working there) I would have certainly been exploited more as an employee.

Take a lesson from Uncle Early Millennial, kids: never work anywhere ever.
posted by griphus at 5:22 AM on October 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


that takes our concentration away from the real issues and real people we should be fighting against.

Toddlers.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:22 AM on October 9, 2015 [37 favorites]


Last night I declared to all my housemates that I would hand in my notice on Monday after three years of low level tediumisery. "It'll be great. I'll take a couple of months to myself, live off my savings overdraft. I'll start painting and writing and musicking again, then I'll just get a part time job at the end of it while I figure out what to do with my life."

Then this thread gets posted and I feel like a goddam fool for taking my awful stable job for granted. Curse you all! You've opened up a full weekend of wrestling with ineffable existential questions that, as of 10.00pm last night, had been happily and at long last effed.
posted by forgetful snow at 5:27 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'd offer advice, but my career history includes "homeless insane person".
posted by kyrademon at 5:30 AM on October 9, 2015 [33 favorites]


Some boomers may be "radically out of touch," but a lot of them are still controlling the senior management of large organizations, so it's not like they don't get it

My mother has run a company (in my field!) and regularly made hiring decisions for the last twenty years. And yet I still heard a similar version of the story's advice ( with more "just smile and make sure you brush you hair and wear blush!") for whole first decade after I finished collage and failed to find a "real job." I would look at her and say: "Mom, are you listening to yourself? Would you actually hire me if I came to your office and did those things?" And she'd be like: "Of course I'd love it if you came back home and took an interest in the company." And we'd back and forth on some endless loop of her not understanding or failing to answer the question.
posted by thivaia at 5:41 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm theoretically an "early millennial," though I'll never admit it. I decided to skip college after an unsuccessful year in 2003 after I realized I was wasting everyone's time. I did some laboring under the table for a plumbing company until I could get into the union via a form of mild nepotism (I mentioned to the union reps that my dad was a plumber in a different nearby union local). I apprenticed there for five years making pretty good money for my age by mostly digging literal ditches for underground piping. Then 2008 the housing bubble burst and I no longer had ditches to dig. So I joined the Navy for their nuclear power program. I realize it's uncouth to mention military service in Metafilter company, especially as a form of gainful employment, but since the program is built on the concept of "you bring the smarts, we bring the motivation" it works well for your standard shiftless college type. This persisted for six years until I managed to amass a wife and family, which understandably makes you less keen on spending months underwater. So I got out without a great plan and spent six months collecting unemployment and getting behind on bills while applying everywhere. I got offers from a water bottling plant and a lead acid battery factory, but ended up with a job as an on-site repair tech for a medical assay instrument company. So I guess my point is it is possible? And I've never so much as considered wearing a blazer to an interview.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:46 AM on October 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


I decided to skip college after an unsuccessful year in 2003...

I attribute a considerably chunk of my admittedly meager success to dropping out of college in '04 even though literally every single human being in my life told me I was making a big mistake and ruining my life and the fates themselves would descend from the clouds for retribution. I went back a number of years later but instead of simply not wanting to be there even a little, I wanted to not be there even a little but also knew why it was that I needed to persevere to the end of the stupid thing.

Plus at that point I had aged out of financial aid considering my mother's salary in my aid determination so my college-degree-requirement-fulfilling English Literature degree was pretty much free instead of pointlessly expensive.
posted by griphus at 5:57 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


She forgot the advice that's like, "Why don't you go work at that Google? All the smart young people work there. They'd be lucky to have you! Just send in an application!" and then the next several weeks is your dad sending you the Google jobs page, pointing out Senior Management roles. "I hear they're really a very good company, doing well." And your mom is like, "That Cohen kid you went to camp with works in computers and he's very wealthy now. Remember you wouldn't go on a date with him? And now he's married to a beautiful lawyer. You should call him and see if he can get you a job at that Google!"

Repeat with other highly competitive, high-profile companies that seem to "like young people" until your dad is basically just sending you applications to become an astronaut.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 6:05 AM on October 9, 2015 [84 favorites]


I think you still aren't getting the conceit.

The article isn't saying that it is the applicants who will be unrealistic in these particular ways.

Again, the approach of the joke is clear, but when you consider that the big knocks on people in the generation of the protagonist are (a) that they feel entitled to easy success and (b) have trouble separating from their parents, it changes your perceptions about exactly who this joke is on.

At this point things have changed so much that any advice given to you by someone "senior" to you is pretty much a joke.

Except that "senior" people are quite likely the ones hiring, so presumably they may know a thing or two about what helps people make it through the gauntlet. Not everyone who is older is completely out of touch, and most of them also make constant adaptations in their career strategy. The single most useful thing I think job candidates can do is informational interviewing with people in fields that interest them. It's a twofer: you get specific, practical, and up-to-the-minute advice and insider knowledge and you expand your network, both of which are irreplaceable by any other source of information. Career counselors have always been relatively shit at anything other than maybe helping you think through your preferences and strengths, parents are too close to the situation emotionally to provide strong critical evaluation.

oh you mean all those unpaid internships that orient people to the fact that there are no ACTUAL PAYING JOBS

Yeah, no doubt this is a big problem (I am engaged, to a degree, on fighting this phenomenon in my field. It becomes pretty toxic and creates issues with inclusion and representation that in the end, cripple efficacy). At the same time, people graduating from college today have had access to a great many more career-preparation resources and starting points than has ever existed before. There just are not as many jobs, and those there are are not as good. A lot of what is going on is sheer political and structural collapse and the response to that isn't really about job searching but political action.

it's just another divisive ploy

100% true.

"Like your business?"
"Yes"
"That can't pay interns"


Clever zing. But the issue isn't that businesses, especially for-profit ones, can't pay interns. It's that they don't need to. There is literally zero market incentive to pay a labor force that is volunteering in exchange for practical experience and in which there is high competition and no worker shortage. In an atmosphere of continuous pressure for profit, there is no real fiscal argument for paying interns. The decision to pay interns is purely an ethical one, which is why it is a very slow starter. Things are improving, though, as industries are increasingly feeling exposed by this structure. I suspect some legal changes will take place in the next 5, 10 years that more tightly limit unpaid work arrangements. But I think as matters improve, we're going to actually see a bifurcation, especially if employment law on internships gets stricter: some will start paying, but many more organizations will just stop having them.

I realize it's uncouth to mention military service in Metafilter company, especially as a form of gainful employment,

God, I hope not. I think that's a very smart decision. For my grandparents and grandparents, the military was basically the way they got into, and stayed in, the middle class. And had the chance to retire.

Anyway, I came out of the gate cranky last night and should have gone to bed an hour earlier, so I apologize for upsetting people on what is a sensitive and personal subject. I know that these times are miserably scary and hard and that the tradeoffs are lousy, and I am sympathetic as I was there too not that long ago (and we all can be there again in a matter of minutes at the next round of layoffs, another life lesson work has painfully taught me). When it comes to these complaints, I tend to be torn between my political recognition that the employment market is pretty awful and for people in the enormous generation who are starting their careers right now, it's miserably competitive and it's unfair, and that all that is a result of failures of our economic system, and very real, personal frustration with having to wade through a lot of entry-level candidates who often seem pretty unrealistically out of touch themselves in order to find a few good people who want the work, have prepared themselves to get it, and are capable of doing it.
posted by Miko at 6:06 AM on October 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


My favorite thing about the many blazers I have owned at the urging of my mother is that they all had ridiculous shoulder pads. Because low-end women's blazer makers know they're trying to appeal to your mother, not you, and she thinks that is what young professional women wear. I always remove them (or in some cases, cut them out) but the blazers still fit like crap and look overly formal and out of touch. I never wear them, and only donate them when I'm about to start a new job and get talked into a new ill-fitting, uncomfortable, unfashionable blazer.
posted by almostmanda at 6:09 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Miko it's just a funny exaggerated article relatable for people without jobs and with normal parents, not a think piece on Why Baby Boomers Are Bad. It's understandable why you don't find it funny, but perhaps you should consider whether that's just because you aren't in that situation?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:14 AM on October 9, 2015 [25 favorites]


From my perspective, though, people that listen to advice from multiple sources, compare that with regard to observed reality, and make smart and grounded choices for themselves based on an analysis of all this evidence stand a better chance of moving ahead than those that think there's nothing they can learn from anyone, and also better than those that think they only need to listen to peers and cheerleaders.

I'm a bit puzzled by this read of the piece, because the very valid points you are making here are basically the the opposite of the advice most people I know get from their boomer parents. (Also, the opposite of the advice given to the main character in this story.)

Advice people I know have gotten from boomer parents:

[for an academic job market] "We know someone who donated to the school, I'm sure if he has a word with their English Department they will be able to find something for you!" (subtext the boomers have missed: this is a surefire way to commit permanent job suicide in the way most likely to piss off your entire industry)

[on millenials who are already employed full-time, but struggling because of stagnant wages/high real estate costs] "They just need to work harder. I worked hard, and I'm fine."

[to millenials in precarious jobs where taking time off might mean being let go] "Well, of course you can take a few weeks off to join us on the family vacation! Any boss who wouldn't let you do that isn't worth working for anyway."

[to millenials with expensive but largely useless graduate degrees] "Have you thought about teaching at [prestigious local private school where jobs become available once every 20 years]? I'm sure they would love to have you!"

The boomers being skewered here are not the ones in the workplace, because boomers with actual current work experience would never give such terrible, vague, and condescending advice. They are the ones who are now retired, and, in many cases, were NEVER in the workplace as it exists now, but they still believe that a college degree is a magical ticket to employment, and that if their children don't have said employment, then they must be doing something wrong.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:14 AM on October 9, 2015 [35 favorites]


Slacks n' blazers! Blazers n' slacks!
posted by Bob Regular at 6:16 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm completely entitled to my opinion about it. I think it can be seen as just a "funny," "relatable" article, sure, but the humor is built on class and age resentment and political and financial inequality and economic collapse, and that's worth talking about.

Also I'm not sure how "normal" those parents are. I'd say if those interested, well-meaning and supportive people who can buy you stuff are your parents, you're doing nicely in the parent department, even if they are not your best go-to for career advice.

The boomers being skewered here are not the ones in the workplace

That's gotta be the case. I just don't know very many people like this. Wait, I guess I do, the upper-middle-class women who volunteer in various local organizations who haven't worked since kids were born, and yeah, I would never ever take work advice from them. It's all too abstract for them.
posted by Miko at 6:18 AM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would like to go back to college and inform my young self that 'linguistics degree' would eventually translate to 'circus stage-hand' and that even if that sounds awesome, it wasn't really.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:21 AM on October 9, 2015 [20 favorites]


Struggling really hard to not find that awesome.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:24 AM on October 9, 2015 [22 favorites]


Hate on the boomers isn't about the fight for birth control and women in the workforce, the summer of love or any of what you mentioned. It's that the boomers convinced the 'greatest generation' to do these things that were not in their best interest, and when it came time for the boomers to look forward and allow anybody else the same opportunity, they said collectively 'No.' It's that the boomers have continued to do things in their best interest, and have bought into and bought the lie of any marketers that have told them that not only can they take it with them, but that they should.

That they did good stuff? Excellent. That they think that gives them a free pass to douche it up going forward? No fucking way.

There are boomers that know mistakes have been made, and boomers that know their comeuppance is eminent... But those 'A Place For Mom' advertisements that right now are geared towards active boomers who want to shed the dead weight of responsibility of the greatest generation? Yeah, don't kid yourself - my generation is ready to make sure your very familiar with life like that - and on your dime, because we haven't been able to save fuck all comparative to the expenses in the world you've ensured was privatized enough to drain our accounts.

Good luck boomers! Hope you collectively like the taste of Cycle-4!
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:24 AM on October 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


upper-middle-class women who volunteer in various local organizations who haven't worked since kids were born, and yeah, I would never ever take work advice from them. It's all too abstract for them.

Yes, exactly. This is the mother in the story. The story is set in the fantasy-land that these women have concocted for themselves of The Business World, where shoulderpads and a can-do attitude are the only job requirements anyone needs to get lifelong security. It's a Disney version of a complex world, and it is absurd, and their advice is therefore very, very bad.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:25 AM on October 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


*the fantasy-land that these women AND THEIR FOX-NEWS WATCHING HUSBANDS have concocted for themselves of The Business World, I should have said.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:26 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


The military is a great way to have a lot of doors open to you, but it's worth noting that all those jobs will break your heart. I've never had trouble finding a new job when I've been trying. It's the inevitable layoff after a year or two when you've pointed out the regulations or laws that say they need to treat people better that is soul destroying. People fire or lay off like it's just a fun thing to do on a whim, because who cares about company morale?
posted by corb at 6:26 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Actually that was the biggest wake up call for me: that people will behave in blatantly discriminatory ways if you don't fake friendship with them, and even though you could sue them, you won't, because it takes money, and you're unemployed.
posted by corb at 6:28 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yes, exactly. This is the mother in the story.

Sure, I can see that. Even so, think for a minute about the presumptions the author reveals in crafting the characterization of the mother. That's the extent of my point.

that was the biggest wake up call for me

It's true, in many ways the ethics and values of service really do not translate to the workaday business world.
posted by Miko at 6:32 AM on October 9, 2015


At this point things have changed so much that any advice given to you by someone "senior" to you is pretty much a joke.

Be sure to have "Don't even *THINK* about giving my kids advice" tattooed on your arm, so you are better prepared than your parents were, when the time comes to watch your own kids venture out into the world.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:34 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a treadmill that never ends, really. I have two half-time grant-funded jobs in my field-- one with pro-rated benefits!!-- and when older relatives occasionally hassle me about going full-time ("going" full-time, like it's a form I can fill out somewhere) I want to shake them by the shoulders and be like DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?? I AM ALREADY LIVING THE MILLENNIAL DREAM
posted by threeants at 6:35 AM on October 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


I almost believed this until I read through to the end. She got the job without having to deploy ANY spunk, gumption, or moxie? Nice try.

The "Lean In" killed me, btw.
posted by dr_dank at 6:37 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given that a lot of these boomer parents sacrificed gigantic chunks of their retirement savings to pay for those English Language and Literature degrees, I guess it's not that surprising they cling to the idea that these degrees are worth something on the job market, well past the point of delusion.

The education bubble is bigger than the housing bubble and we're all of us - boomers and millenials alike - still making payments on the equivalent of underwater mortgages. There's a small number of boomers who deserve the blame for this, but make no mistake - most of us on both sides of the generational divide were played for suckers.

Now there's something to bond over at Thanksgiving dinner.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:37 AM on October 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


My friend is an Art Director for a major regional magazine. It's her dream job, it's what she went to college for, and she's basically climbed as far up the ladder as she can without shifting into a more managerial role.

Her dad still optimistically asks if they're going to let her write the articles anytime soon.
posted by almostmanda at 6:40 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


...and very real, personal frustration with having to wade through a lot of entry-level candidates who often seem pretty unrealistically out of touch themselves in order to find a few good people who want the work, have prepared themselves to get it, and are capable of doing it.

I personally understand this frustration but I hope you realize that trying to present it as a sympathetic position to people who are unemployed or stuck or whatever is at best rather condescending. It's complaining about the flavor to people who don't get a serving, which is why all the pushback.
posted by griphus at 6:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [33 favorites]


Miko,

The things you are saying are certainly true. But it is also true that many of us millennials have had the exact experience that this article is parodying, and shockingly often it comes from people who really, really ought to know better. So your pointing out the fact that many baby-boomers have lots of wise advice that millennials could learn from, while inarguably true, sounds an awful lot like "Not All Baby Boomers ..."

And saying that this article is mean-spirited and divisive, feels very much like you're coming into a conversation as a person from a relatively privileged group, and telling people with relatively less privilege that you think they're not using a respectful enough tone when talking about their personal experience of their lack of privilege.
posted by firechicago at 6:46 AM on October 9, 2015 [49 favorites]


BEST PUNCHLINE: I sent this article to my mom in a "don't worry, you're not THIS out of touch, but this is pretty recognizable, right?" kind of way, and she wrote back: "Well, SHE got a job pretty easily."
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 6:47 AM on October 9, 2015 [66 favorites]


Be sure to have "Don't even *THINK* about giving my kids advice" tattooed on your arm, so you are better prepared than your parents were, when the time comes to watch your own kids venture out into the world.

Eh, I was more thinking that at least most of the techniques and tips that used to get people jobs just don't work any more, so any advice you're getting from people who haven't been jobhunting recently isn't likely to help. Which is kind of the whole point of this article.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:57 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how "normal" those parents are

Then maybe you should listen to all the people in this thread telling you about it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:59 AM on October 9, 2015 [19 favorites]


A fiendish thingy: upper-middle-class women who volunteer in various local organizations who haven't worked since kids were born, and yeah, I would never ever take work advice from them. It's all too abstract for them.

In my mind, I picture B-roll footage from just about any 80's vintage workplace comedy (Working Girl, Nine To Five, etc). Rows of desks in a Manhattan skyscraper, phones with big blinky buttons answered by poofy haired people in shoulder padded blazers and shirts that would look good only on an NFL linebacker. The constant haze of cigarette smoke hangs in the air as brokers and salesmen wheel and deal on the phones, wearing quadruple-breasted suits that I just completely made up. An actual lunch hour, decent pay, benefits, pension, and everyone herds out the door at five to strap hang on the subway.

This was the reality frozen in time for that generation and it's as close to life today as the Jurassic period.
posted by dr_dank at 6:59 AM on October 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


I laughed at the blazers. My mom has always been all about blazers. I've had blazers thrust upon me since I was, I don't know, 16. I wasn't going to wear a blazer to high school. Now I'm 34 and occasionally I'll wear one if there's a big important meeting where I have to come off like a grown-up, but I still hate it the whole time.

***
I graduated college in 2004 (I'm in that weird 2-4 year non-generation between x and millennial), with a degree in English, went to law school for a semester, and dropped out, fresh-faced and ready to obtain a Real Job in winter 2005. My parents were actually the opposite of the parents in this article, warning me that I'd never get a Real Job with just an English degree and I'd better just go back to law school, etc, etc. 2005 was a different world than today: I wound up temping in accounting, having a knack for it, and from there, applying to and getting a job at a hedge fund, doing financial nonsense. I worked there 4ish years. It was good.

But then, I decided I wanted to go back to school to for my Master of City Planning, so I did. I graduated that program in 2011 and... the employment environment was so vastly different than it was in 2005. It took me twice as long to find employment with my newly minted masters degree from a very good program as it did for me to find employment with my BA in English in 2005. Granted, I was looking at a narrower field of jobs, but in the meantime, I called every temp agency in the city and there was just no work that time around. Contrast that with 2005 temp work--in 2005, I went to exactly one temp agency, and they found me a fairly well-paying contract job (the accounting one) that lasted half a year, and provided me with a platform I used to apply for real jobs. In 2015, the best offer I got from a temp agency was to be a receptionist for 12 dollars an hour in a part of Queens inaccessible without a car (I live in Manhattan, carless).

I eventually found a job in my field, worked there for 3 years, and now I'm at another job in my field. But it was much harder! It is terrible out there!
posted by millipede at 7:01 AM on October 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


In my mind, I picture B-roll footage from just about any 80's vintage workplace comedy (Working Girl, Nine To Five, etc).

ha ha ha now every time I read shitty advice I'm going to picture it as presented by the cast of Work Hard Girl Or Die Trying from Bob's Burgers.
posted by griphus at 7:01 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Except that "senior" people are quite likely the ones hiring, so presumably they may know a thing or two about what helps people make it through the gauntlet.

No, hiring managers are the ones doing the hiring, especially for lower and entry-level jobs. Unless you're talking about a really small company, most senior people are so insulated from the actual day-to-day factors of their hiring processes (because their job isn't hiring, it's all the leadership stuff that made them senior to begin with) that their advice is only marginally better than useless.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:06 AM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


oh and also, regarding "go knock on some doors." When I was 17 and it was deemed time for me to get a part-time job, my mom was all "go knock on some doors" when I expressed confusion about how to obtain this job. This was 1999. She said "go to the mall, go in every store, and ask them if they are hiring." So I did. She came with me to make sure I did it, because I was shy and this was really my nightmare, having to go up to strangers over and over again and ask them for something. I asked every store. Barnes and Noble was the dream; they wanted retail experience. Fye was another dream; they wanted people to be 18. The Gap wanted retail experience. Ruby Tuesday wanted hosting or waiting experience. Only Nathan's Hot Dogs and Wet Seal wanted me. I chose Wet Seal. I wonder if going to the mall and asking every store for a job even works anymore.
posted by millipede at 7:13 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


I wonder if going to the mall and asking every store for a job even works anymore.

I mean for most malls you're going to have a hard time finding anyone to ask after you've broken in through the plywood on the windows so
posted by PMdixon at 7:16 AM on October 9, 2015 [58 favorites]


I wonder if going to the mall and asking every store for a job even works anymore.

Nope. They all tell you to fill out applications online. There is often a personality test, too. Questions like "Sometimes violence is a good idea at the workplace. Strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree." My last retail job had me filling out these questionnaires for almost an hour.
posted by witchen at 7:17 AM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


there is nothing subtle about those tests, either. You have NEVER stolen or lied; you would ALWAYS turn in a coworker who did.
posted by thelonius at 7:22 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


When hiring kids on co-op terms, I've seen quite a number of blazers.

The worst example was the helicopter parent who tried to insert themselves in the middle of negotiations. We pay (undergrad) students at scale based on education level only, a scale which is laid out on a public website. The better prepared have clearly read it---we get questions about it during the interviews sometimes. There's essentially no room for special pleading in our locked-down, super formal system.

Still, didn't stop the well-meaning, but utterly clueless phone-in parent from insisting their special snowflake should ask for more, which ok, but this was a lot more, laughably more, more than what we start post-docs at (which is also on the web site). The student only get the job because I told them bluntly that they were going to get one offer and one offer only. So sorry, I asked. (I did actually ask, and got a very blunt, single word response).

The student looked pole-axed. They were utterly unprepared for "take it or leave it, we don't care". Parental advice was not just wrong, but nearly cost them a placement they clearly wanted. It was clearly their first experience at being treated as being disposable tissue, rather than a star (which they were academically).

And, of course, this wasn't the last time stupid parental advice caused issues for that kid on the job. In retrospect, while it was a learning experience for them, in future I don't know if I'd bother again.

We've had many kids and most get it pretty quickly, but we still see some blazers every year. Of course it helps that we're all young at my place of employment (I'm in my forties) and so able to relate to 20-year olds easily.
posted by bonehead at 7:28 AM on October 9, 2015 [20 favorites]


When I started teaching, I was long-term subbing in a district in southern california, and principals kept offering me permanent teaching jobs, and then coming back a couple of days later and saying, "sorry, never mind, district said no."

It happened maybe three times, and after asking some questions I found out it was one person at the district who was telling them, "No, he's not going to work in this district, ever." She was actually moving me out of long-term subbing positions so that I wouldn't work over a certain number of days in the same classroom, which would bump my daily pay.

One day over dinner, I was talking to my mom (who had spent 30 years in the same district) about it, saying basically that this person seemed to hate me and I had no idea why, I had never met her, and my mom told me that she had gone to the district office and had a meeting with this person and asked her why I wasn't getting a job! Thanks, Mom! She wasn't one of those moms, either, I had gone out and gotten my own jobs since I was 16. (Except a couple at the college where my dad worked.)

Luckily this was back in the good old days of teaching, when you could walk into a school and be offered a job pretty much immediately... they were even paying hiring bonuses and moving expenses at that time. I knew someone at my current school, she recommended me, and I never even interviewed, just did all the security checks and then showed up.

I love my district and school, and so I'm happy about my mom's interference now, but at the time I was pretty pissed.
posted by Huck500 at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


Fuck, I can top this story. My grandmother got it in her head that my younger brother should ask Chelsea Clinton to his prom (c. 1997). He was completely LOL WUT. She insisted, started giving him newspaper clippings about her, asked him every single goddamned time she saw him if he'd written to her yet. Finally after a month or so of this he said, look, Grandma, I really don't want to do this, and she threw down, telling him this was the problem with this generation, he was never going to get anywhere in life if he Just Didn't Go For What He Wanted.

My grandmother was a nominally sensible person who worked her whole life as a telephone operator, had a decent retirement income, no actual dementia, and yet this was her view of the world. So, yeah, unfortunately plausible story.
posted by disconnect at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2015 [43 favorites]


So a part of my job touches on career advising for urban public college students. I am most certainly not trained in this, but my upper-levels are convinced that I need to be doing this for my students. Okay then.

So what is the current advice? I tell them to describe the skills that they utilized in previous jobs on their resume, on the reasoning that a future employer will be able to pick out the transferable skills that he/she needs. I tell them to network out the wazoo (but don't tell them how, because networking is strange and mystifying and terrifying to me too). I tell them to join professional societies as student members and reach out to alumni who have similar interests. I don't know what the fuck else to tell them, because I have only looked for jobs in my sector, and gotten them, on the back of a privileged and expensive education.
posted by Liesl at 7:33 AM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Questions like "Sometimes violence is a good idea at the workplace. Strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree." My last retail job had me filling out these questionnaires for almost an hour.

If they are hiring for semantic nitpicking I would ace this - after all *some* people are employed as bouncers or sumo wrestlers.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:35 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]




I'm a writer. A couple years ago my dad texted me something along the lines of "Hey, honey. I'm at the doctor's office. Have you heard of this magazine called The New Yorker? Good magazine, you should write for them. Love, Dad."

I'm still not 100 percent sure, but I don't think he was kidding.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 7:49 AM on October 9, 2015 [36 favorites]


So I posted a link to this story about how Urban Outfitters is asking employees to "volunteer" for unpaid warehouse labor, and I swear to god I got pushback from people who were all "What's the big deal?" and I had to painfully explain that employers not paying you for your labor is a big fucking problem and encourages exploitation and in general is just fucking evil.

Why did I have to explain that? They literally said "well just don't shop there!" as if that was the only possible response to a company doing something like this.

Ironically they are actually younger than me, I think they have absorbed the "just work harder!" lessons from their parents a little too well.

I call it "Boxer syndrome" after the character in Animal Farm. If we don't do anything but "keep working harder", we all end up in a truck on the way to the rendering plant.
posted by emjaybee at 7:55 AM on October 9, 2015 [22 favorites]


Possibly interestingly, my parents are not just baffled that things don't work this way for me, they are eternally baffled that things do not work this way for *them*.

They have a freelance side business that they've been doing for many years and have continued since retirement, and frequently when I call them they are outraged because they contacted a place that you'd think would be interested in exactly the kind of thing my parents do, I mean based on what it says on the company website and everything, and they heard nothing back! Nothing at all!

You'd think after the three hundred and fifty seventh time this happened my parents would cease to be outraged by it, but no.

They used to attempt to "help me out" by contacting places that "might be interested" in my writing. I eventually convinced them to stop by telling them I wanted to handle my own marketing. (I must admit however, that, astonishingly, their years of telling various people to look at their child's work did result in one offer for me. It would, however, have paid $0.00. You may be shocked to learn I turned it down.)
posted by kyrademon at 8:04 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


She forgot the advice that's like, "Why don't you go work at that Google? All the smart young people work there. They'd be lucky to have you! Just send in an application!" and then the next several weeks is your dad sending you the Google jobs page, pointing out Senior Management roles. "I hear they're really a very good company, doing well." And your mom is like, "That Cohen kid you went to camp with works in computers and he's very wealthy now. Remember you wouldn't go on a date with him? And now he's married to a beautiful lawyer. You should call him and see if he can get you a job at that Google!"

Remember Linda? Alex's mom? She says Google just gives you a test and she's sure you'd do fine. I was just in Mountain View and everyone was riding these colorful little bikes, it looked like so much fun. And your cousin Miriam, she's working at.. Rack? Slack? She's doing very well. When are you coming home?
posted by theodolite at 8:09 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


Oh, and, my mom, when I still spoke to her, used to regularly berate me about my then-boyfriend, now husband's lack of motivation and ambition, because he taught adjunct and didn't have a tenure track job. She kept trying to explain to me that there are so many colleges and he just wasn't sending out enough resumes. I was like, Mom, he's literally applied for every opening he's even a little bit qualified for. She just flat-out refused to believe me.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 8:11 AM on October 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


This article is hilarious! But I really don't think the problem is that older people are remembering the job market form when they were young -- they're remembering an idealized version as it never existed. I'm sorry, it has never been possible to just walk into a random office and hand out a resume and get a job -- I mean, how would that even work, the receptionist is just going to introduce you to a random manager? English majors have always had trouble with employment (admittedly a lot more now, but it wasn't exactly easy to be an English major in 1980 either). It's like years of watching sitcoms and movies has completely destroyed people's own memories of how the world works.
posted by miyabo at 8:19 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


Oh, I forgot how my dad used to be all, "You could get a job in Saudi Arabia for a couple of years and be set for life!"

Um, doing what, dad? I don't think I have any skills they want. Also, I'm female and I don't even wanna think about how that would go there.

I did have a friend who worked in the UAE for a few years, but she definitely didn't leave that gig set for life, and other than having a professional driver at all times, it did not sound too fun.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:33 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I ran into a version of this when I was on the phone with my boomer mom the other day. I'm a software engineer, and I make good money, but so far it still hasn't been enough for my wife and I to have enough money to start the process of adopting a child, which we want to do at some point. (I talked about this a bit in the open "day care is expensive thread" a few days ago.)

At some point in the last few weeks, my mom convinced herself that going into business on my own as an independent consultant is the solution. I patiently tried to describe to her the many reasons that doesn't work for us -- not only the lack of benefits and the fact that you often need to devote the equivalent of a full time job just to solicit business in addition to actually doing the work, but you also need to have skills in sales, something I somehow didn't inherit from my dad.

It turns out I have a close friend who did go into business for himself a couple of years ago, and my mom asks me why I don't follow his lead. I respond by telling her that he was able to do it because he (a) has a wife with a secure full-time job with benefits, (b) previously wored as a consultant for another company that stopped doing IT consulting, meaning he could take all their customers with him when he left, and (c) he's a much better bullshitter / salesperson than I could ever be.

In response to that, mom tells me I'm too risk-averse, and that she changed careers a few times, went back to school in her 40s, and it all worked out for her. That's the part where I reminded her that she could only do that because my dad worked for the same company for 40+ years with generous profit sharing and pension benefits, while my wife's health problems have kept her from being able to work, so if I do the small business thing and it doesn't work out, we don't eat.

She basically had never considered that all of her "risks" in life with respect to big career decisions were made with house money, while any risks we take, even with me being a very well-compensated person with an advanced STEM degree, are with our own livelihood at stake. Of course that's where she did the "well, if you need money from us" and "I'm not going to be around forever, so this house and all my savings will be yours" routine, as if that's somehow comforting.

This is precisely why I shake my head at every "lazy millennials" piece I read now, because as out of touch as she is, she at least has the excuse of being old. The fact that my fellow Gen Xers can have the same out-of-touch attitude toward today's 20-somethings boggles the mind. The boomers fucked us, and now we're probably going to repeat the cycle.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:33 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


You know, another thing that occurs to me is that this advice does still work, but only in intensely segregated jobs that haven't changed since the 50s.

Like my husband, who has almost always gotten an offer from places he's interviewed at, and who "just asks" for stupendous fucking raises and changes jobs just to get better ones. And sometimes he's like "you didn't negotiate?" And I'm like "I am a social worker, they drink mugs of our tears."
posted by corb at 8:37 AM on October 9, 2015 [19 favorites]


You think you have it bad? My parents happen to know many very-very-upper-class older folks whose kids are all CEOs and management consultants and Wall Street financiers making millions of dollars (in their late 20s!!!). The lectures I get are epic. The fact that all those kids started with more money and connections than I will ever have doesn't seem to make a difference.
posted by miyabo at 8:37 AM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


The boomers fucked us, and now we're probably going to repeat the cycle.

Millenials get to be morally superior in that regard because the world will burn down long before whatever poor suckers come after us are old enough to realize they've been lied to the whole time.
posted by PMdixon at 8:38 AM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


Threads like this are dispiriting, but they do make me realize that I'm not alone and not going crazy.

I may be working a crappy menial job, but keep in mind that I worked my way through college in the '90s and accumulated no debt, have always worked, have never missed a rent payment, don't drink-smoke-or-do-drugs, and am not on any medication... but in the mind of my last living close relative, I'm a failure because...

"You made good grades and graduated WITH HONORS. You could get a great job in an office tomorrow if you wanted. You could do -hand wave- anything else if you really wanted."

>__<

I'll also never forget the uncle who counseled me, "hey, if you really wanna get a job at Disney or Pixar, just move out there to California, bum around, and get to know the people. That's how these things work, you know."

Sigh.
posted by ELF Radio at 8:40 AM on October 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm a writer. A couple years ago my dad texted me something along the lines of "Hey, honey. I'm at the doctor's office. Have you heard of this magazine called The New Yorker? Good magazine, you should write for them. Love, Dad."

And here I thought my dad had passed away 7 [jesus, 7?!] years ago...guess he's just been disguised as your dad. ;)

Seriously, I love/d my parents. They were genuinely supportive and weird and in most ways the Boomer dream was denied to them (but they blamed themselves for it) so they always understood a little that success might be harder than it looked. But everything was getting better forever and always, right? Kids ALWAYS do better than their parents. Plus, all of their kids tested "gifted."

So they raised us not to make their mistakes--always get a college degree! (mom) Never quit a job without another job! (mom) Never trust The Man! (dad) And they figured that between this advice and our natural abilities, we'd be solid gold from day 1.

What they didn't understand was that this advice had become bare minimum for getting by. This would get us to a point where we might --if we were lucky-- avoid the actual literal poverty of our youth. It was not going to make us rockstars and Zuckerbergs (my parents never even conceived of a Zuckerberg, but you know what I mean). I'm not sure my dad ever understood that. He remained really perplexed by our lives and very angry when we would refuse the sorts of interventions Huck500 and disconnect describe, just really not ever seeing how those would do more harm than good.

My mom is fortunate enough to still be alive, which means that unlike Dad she was unfortunate enough to watch the global economy collapse, and get laid off herself (though fortunately she was quickly re-employed). Now sees the structural inequities she's working against quite clearly. She sees the profits she, personally, generates every month and year and also the 2% raise. She sees the glaring differences between the sons of rich folk who did breeze into their leadership positions, while the mostly-female staff who have worked harder, for longer, have pay freezes. And she knows what the world of interviews looks like for a woman who isn't fresh out of an Ivy League education and internships.

She never gives me job-hunting advice anymore.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


HA I just remembered a thing that happened: when I first graduated and was briefly living at home, the advice to "just go to the city and pound the pavement! Shake hands and knock on doors!" came so fast and thick that I took to getting on the train for downtown, and hanging around at a Starbucks for what seemed an appropriate amount of time before coming home. One time I met another recent grad there who was doing the exact same thing.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:51 AM on October 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


Again, the approach of the joke is clear, but when you consider that the big knocks on people in the generation of the protagonist are (a) that they feel entitled to easy success and (b) have trouble separating from their parents, it changes your perceptions about exactly who this joke is on.

Are you saying that this is the public image of millennials, or that you think these things are actually true? Because I think this perception is sort of the assumed background for the piece. But maybe I am different than you in not actually believing them to be true.

My husband and I had the same experience that millipede did -- jobhunting in an easy economy after college and a hard one after grad school -- and holy hell is it awful out there. Wow.
posted by gerstle at 8:52 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a writer. A couple years ago my dad texted me something along the lines of "Hey, honey. I'm at the doctor's office. Have you heard of this magazine called The New Yorker? Good magazine, you should write for them. Love, Dad."

I have a master's in international relations and have been unemployed since moving to New York two years ago. Literally everyone who hears this asks, "Well, have you ever considered working for the United Nations?"
posted by naoko at 8:53 AM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


"Well, have you ever considered working for the United Nations?"

Well, have you?

I do almost never give advice these days. If it's a subject I don't know intimately there is little chance I will give better advice than the totally obvious "have you considered the united nations" type.

If it's a subject I know well then probably I've been at it for 10+ years and all I know about "getting into it" is framed in the context of 10+ years ago.

Sometimes people ask me for recommendations of tools and I start to answer by saying, "well, this circular saw I have has lasted through 20 years of hard work" and then I realize, that only tells you about the quality of something made 20 years ago. What are the current ones like? How would I know, all my stuff is 20 years old.

I have no idea what advice I'll be able to give my son. "Don't be an asshole?"
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Jesus Christ, dude, seriously? Yes, of course I have; maybe consider whether someone is even asking for your advice.
posted by naoko at 9:04 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I mainly see in people trying to start their career is parents who are incredibly effective in their advice and guidance for their kids. Not sure who's getting this bad advice, but boy it's not the case of those getting into finance in LA or tech in SF or entertainment in LA. I am happy and successful in my career but I can't imagine how much easier it would have been if I had the kind of coaching in what to do and not do they've evidently had from 12 to 25.

And I'm not talking about -- then or now -- about the kids of parents powerful enough to get their kids jobs with a phone call. I'm talking about savvy and how much, for want of better expression, parents have gotten savvier. Plenty of friends my age had parents who were corporate executives and law firm partners and college professors who got no or bad advice and had to figure it out on their own. Now, not at all.
posted by MattD at 9:05 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel lucky to have graduated in 2002 and gotten a job almost immediately, because now I have a great resume and don't worry so much about competing with 149 other people because those people don't have my experiences. That being said, this article is pretty funny.

And at the same time, there are still new graduates who think they can apply to a job without a cover letter. So...
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:10 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Parental job hunting advice starts out with them telling you at age 10 "you like arguing so much you should be a lawyer" and honestly that's the high point.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


Thankfully my Mom's own odd employment history means she fully understands she has no idea how any job that isn't working for the State even works but her strange insistence I should just become an actor cause that's so easy? is somehow endearing.
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 AM on October 9, 2015


The only parental advice that really works in the job market is "Here's my child, take them on as a junior hire as a favor to me."
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


"If you like biting your nails so much, you should become a dental hygienist! Then you could put your fingers in everyone's mouth. "
posted by almostmanda at 9:15 AM on October 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


"You should go to graduate school, get a master's like your mother did."
"Grandma, the government paid her to do that and then they promoted her as soon as she did. I don't even have a job, what would I go to graduate school for?"
"It doesn't matter, just get a master's."
posted by griphus at 9:16 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


"grandma it costs $200,000 that will take me 30 years and $450,000 to pay off"
posted by poffin boffin at 9:17 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


smash cut to grandma being lifted into an ambulance on a stretcher whilst clutching her chest and swearing loudly in russian
posted by poffin boffin at 9:18 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


"you should go to grad school because I believe that women should get all the education they can" -- my mom, the second wave feminist.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:19 AM on October 9, 2015


I actually feel like my parents did a great job preparing me to interview, and they included some of the things that are in this parody article. This thing is funny because it's a lot wrong but also a little true.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:21 AM on October 9, 2015


Jesus Christ, dude, seriously? Yes, of course I have; maybe consider whether someone is even asking for your advice.

I suppose obvious joke is not always obvious. Sorry.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:22 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


man this article and thread is making me so grateful for how my parents have evolved (i guess? for lack of a better word) on this issue since i graduated college. they used to sound exactly like the "well why don't you just go work for google? they would be lucky to have you" parents (particularly since we're all living in the bay area) but now realize how precious and rare landing a job is, ESPECIALLY a full-time one with benefits, and have really made an effort to be more understanding about how shitty not just the job market is but also how awful the housing/rental market is for my generation. so i guess i'm just trying to say THANKS MOM AND DAD, you guys are pretty ok
posted by burgerrr at 9:23 AM on October 9, 2015


MetaFilter: Funny because it's a lot wrong but also a little true.
posted by griphus at 9:24 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


HA I just remembered a thing that happened: when I first graduated and was briefly living at home, the advice to "just go to the city and pound the pavement! Shake hands and knock on doors!" came so fast and thick that I took to getting on the train for downtown, and hanging around at a Starbucks for what seemed an appropriate amount of time before coming home. One time I met another recent grad there who was doing the exact same thing.

...reader, I married him.
posted by threeants at 9:24 AM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I suppose obvious joke is not always obvious. Sorry.

Gah, sorry Rusty! Grumpy unemployed person is grumpy.
posted by naoko at 9:25 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous, chief in that.

posted by bonehead at 9:25 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


No worries. I should know by this time that tone doesn't carry in text. Good luck with your job hunt, the UN would be so lucky to have you!

I have heard they have international relations in other countries, have you considered those?
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:27 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


Is there a -splain word for this yet? It seems inevitable.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 9:31 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


"boomsplain"

it has the side-benefit of being sarcastic oompah band onomatopoeia
posted by griphus at 9:34 AM on October 9, 2015 [24 favorites]


HA I just remembered a thing that happened: when I first graduated and was briefly living at home, the advice to "just go to the city and pound the pavement! Shake hands and knock on doors!" came so fast and thick that I took to getting on the train for downtown, and hanging around at a Starbucks for what seemed an appropriate amount of time before coming home. One time I met another recent grad there who was doing the exact same thing.

...reader, I married him.


Well no, if I'd done THAT, I'd probably be a homeowner by now.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:35 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Back in the day when I was looking for my first Real Job, my parents were trying to get me to go work at the local Kinkos, the local dry cleaners, or other dead-end jobs, while I was having a friend in NYC send me the NYTimes job listings (the library edition I could get in Chicagoland didn't carry the local job listings for NYC) and applying to jobs in the field I chose: publishing. One day about a month after leaving college with an English/History double major, I packed the suit and briefcase they had bought me as a graduation present and left to go interview at about a dozen companies I'd lined up interviews for. That was enough to get my foot in the door and on what's turned out to be a decent job track (admin assistant to editor to desktop publishing system designer to network engineer to mgmt at an ISP), but to quote my father just a few years ago, "I thought I'd always have to take care of you financially." Nowadays, good luck getting a job in publishing, its almost all freelancers and contract work, but back in 1990, you could just walk into an office with the right attitude and experience (college editorial work, will take any job and wait until editorial has an opening) and make it work.
posted by Blackanvil at 9:36 AM on October 9, 2015


The differences between my life and career, and the lives and careers of my friends who married hotshot young lawyers, bankers, or just otherwise stably, perpetually employed folk at 25, are...well, enough to drive a woman to drink.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:38 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how "normal" those parents are / Then maybe you should listen to all the people in this thread telling you about it.

By which I meant, they're socioeconomically privileged parents. Yep, I know that doesn't translate directly or immediately to their kids' earning power. But I wouldn't say they're "normal" because two-thirds of the Milennial generation haven't even been able to get a college degree.

No, hiring managers are the ones doing the hiring

I am a senior manager and I hire my team and co-interview on many other teams. It is rare not to do hiring when you are senior because you need to shape your own team. Our CEO also meets every candidate to vet them at the final stage.

Urban Outfitters...employers not paying you for your labor is a big fucking problem and encourages exploitation and in general is just fucking evil.

I had an angry reaction until I read the article and noticed it was salaried staff being asked to help with a seasonal push. It's still the act of a snakey company - they did this to avoid having to pay overtime to their hourly staff - but I can't cry about it. I spend a lot of evenings, weekends, and at times overnights on the job and I'm paid for my work via the salary that is not tied to an hours limit; and everywhere I've worked has had some sort of program-related/seasonal push during which you just work more and harder. There are definite problems with that system and it's another area that I think needs more definition in labor law but that story turned out to be less outrageous than the headline.

The boomers fucked us, and now we're probably going to repeat the cycle

Speak for yourself; like I said, I'm working on reforming practice in one field along with many others. But generational snark actually just kind of keeps us focused on squabbling over the crumbs and scraps rather than engineering political solutions that would benefit everyone.
posted by Miko at 9:41 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Have you heard of this magazine called The New Yorker? Good magazine, you should write for them. Love, Dad."

I... I think that's sweet.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hearing everyone else's family situations makes me realize how cursed mine was. My dad was a drunk. Our mom kicked him out and he became a homeless drunk. She moved in with a boyfriend and i got booted out of there at age 17 with no money and no car. I received exactly $0.00 and zero words or advice concerning my future. I saw my dad maybe three times after that, and then he died. Then my mom died.

And here we are.
posted by ELF Radio at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


AskMetafilter: I'd offer advice, but my career history includes "homeless insane person".
posted by Aizkolari at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


In the last two years, I've hired 4 new folks, all women in their 20s as it happens, pretty much fresh out of college (1 BA, 3 MPHs). Not an Ivy League among them, AFAIK.

3 of the 4 were wearing blazers at the interview! Although it's probably the case that many of the people we didn't hire were wearing blazers too, so the meaning of these findings are not clear...

Watch out, old person advice coming --->

Once you have a job, ask if you can sit in on interviews of new candidates for other positions. You don't have to an official part of the panel, asking questions or recommending someone. Just sit and watch. You'll learn SO MUCH about what works and what doesn't work during job interviews. It's amazing what it looks like from the other side of the table.
posted by jasper411 at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


Considering the new Gilded Age we're living in the best carrer advice I ever got was from all those 19th century novels about fortune hunters I read in High School.
posted by The Whelk at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


"I thought I'd always have to take care of you financially."

Neil Gaiman appeared on The Moth last week or the week before and told a charming story about himself, his dad and his son. In part of it he related a conversation between his dad and someone else, at one of Neil's book signings.

The other person asks "did you always know he'd turn out like this?"
and his dad says "No, he said he wanted to be a writer, I assumed I'd support him his whole life"

It was a sweeter statement than it sounds - his dad had never said a word like that to him in his life, but was prepared to support his son's choices forever.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


But I wouldn't say they're "normal" because two-thirds of the Milennial generation haven't even been able to get a college degree.

False. Per the White House: More Millennials have a college degree than any other generation of young adults.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:44 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well no, if I'd done THAT, I'd probably be a homeowner by now.

No, you see, I married him. Just wanted to give you an update on what happened after Starbucks. We talk about you a lot so it only seemed right.
posted by threeants at 9:45 AM on October 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


my mom gave me decent 'career advice'.

"are you kidding me i didnt know what the fuck i wanted to do with my life, i figured out i wanted to do for work when i was camping and driving around in the desert at night in big old circles being like OH GOD, WHAT AM I DOING"

"nothing in your 20s will make sense and have no shame regarding this"
posted by beefetish at 9:47 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


ELF Radio, absolutely. Freedom from childhood trauma is another kind of privilege.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:47 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


But generational snark actually just kind of keeps us focused on squabbling over the crumbs and scraps rather than engineering political solutions that would benefit everyone.

You say this right after you say that you're okay with other people having do to unpaid labor because YOU also had to do unpaid labor. This is literally the exact attitude that perpetuates generational snark.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:49 AM on October 9, 2015 [30 favorites]


The basic problem that is new at this moment is that if not a majority, a very large minority of jobs literally are pure waste. They would be better not done. This means it is obviously impossible to actually be qualified for them, which means that the hiring process for those positions is entirely a process of handing out access to resources.

This spills over to the jobs that should be done for fairly obvious reasons.
posted by PMdixon at 9:52 AM on October 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's amazing what it looks like from the other side of the table.

I absolutely second this. But if I had asked any boss I had for the first 5 or 6 years of my career if I could sit in on interviews, they would have literally laughed in my face, because mere worker bees weren't expected to ever have anything to do with Important Things like hiring. It took years of building trust and a great deal of luck to get a boss who allows me to do stuff like that. So like a lot of other advice I think this may fall flat.
posted by miyabo at 9:55 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Caveat: I am 41. I graduated from college in 1995. I am not young.

And I'm not talking about -- then or now -- about the kids of parents powerful enough to get their kids jobs with a phone call.

I got my first (non-temp, that I stayed at for more than two days) job through my boyfriend's (now husband's) mother. She was certainly not what society would consider "powerful"; she just happened to be at the right place at the right time. She worked for an attorney in the legal department of a company; he was leaving to become a sole practitioner and wanted her to join him. She couldn't, but recommended me.

I met with him, he hired me and I've been in the legal field for the past 19 years.

I've changed firms four times since then; twice using local placement companies that cater to law firms and twice the old-fashioned "I saw your ad in the [local legal paper], here is my resume" way. The last time was in 2008.

But law firms always run about 20 years behind typical companies; we still use fax machines, for god's sake.

My husband has been employed at the same location since 1997.

All this is a roundabout way of saying I have *no* idea what sort of job advice to give our kid when he's old enough to be looking for a job.
posted by Lucinda at 9:56 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Shiv making techniques.
posted by PMdixon at 10:02 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


"just go to the city and pound the pavement! Shake hands and knock on doors!"

This sentiment is also galling because it seems to underpin a lot of our attitudes towards unemployment and welfare. The requirement that an "able-bodied" (nevermind mental health, LOL!) person receiving benefits must apply for x number of jobs per week just blows my mind. Not only is "shaking hands and knocking on doors" unlikely to result in getting a job, it's extremely time-consuming and life-draining.

It's like the author of this short story is also the author of all our policy.
posted by witchen at 10:04 AM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


You know what I just realized right fucking now in this thread? (Thanks coffin boffin) That of course most millennials can't buy fucking houses, they are already basically paying for house-sized chunks of school debt, plus having to pay rent. Millennial houses are the summer homes of the past generations.

I've also been to college, and honestly, not a damn thing I learned there is useful at any job. My strong suspicion is that jobs calling for a college degree are and have been just a legal way of discrimination against the "low class poors", which is why "just going to college" worked so well in the past, because it was an indicator of either exceptional merit or "the right" class, and they would take either.
posted by corb at 10:05 AM on October 9, 2015 [18 favorites]


COFFIN YES this is my spoopy october alias thank u
posted by poffin boffin at 10:07 AM on October 9, 2015 [45 favorites]


Yeah the reason for the generational snark is because the olds (and mostly the most vicious of the olds) own basically everything and have decided that the thing to do with that fact is play a really involved game of "stop hitting yourself."

Good thing I'm not Catholic cause I hear despair is a mortal sin.
posted by PMdixon at 10:10 AM on October 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


It is laughable that this extremely authentic and relatable piece about out of touch parents is being characterized as some sort of fictional account meant to fuel generational warfare. And scolding millenials specifically for "generational snarking" is dumb when you consider every article about millenials.
posted by almostmanda at 10:12 AM on October 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


Many people think I'm joking when I say we should kill and eat the boomers but what if I'm not?
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


oh and also, regarding "go knock on some doors."

I have a story about that as a sales strategy. I was at CB2 (furniture store owned by Crate & Barrel) a while back, arranging the replacement of a table that had been delivered in poor shape. A confident young man in a suit strides in and approaches the cash register. He announces that he represents a new accounting system that will reorganize their finances, help them find "hidden money," and keep track of their inventory. He wants to pitch this to the manager. The cashier looks at him like he's bonkers and explains that this is a chain with hundreds of stores and it doesn't work that way. The guy seemingly could not understand that a giant corporation doesn't let its cashiers buy accounting software from randoms off the street and insisted on leaving behind his literature.

But hey, he knocked on some doors all right.
posted by zachlipton at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2015 [22 favorites]


"ok in that case can I speak with Mr. Barrel?"
posted by griphus at 10:30 AM on October 9, 2015 [40 favorites]


leopold barrel, of the new haven barrels.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:31 AM on October 9, 2015 [28 favorites]


Zachilpton , I heard that EXACT SAME PITCH being given to the guy behind the counter OF A PIZZA PLACE.

Guy saying it had a thick accent and may have been reciting it phonetically so I assume this is just another horrible scam in this garbage fire we call a society
posted by The Whelk at 10:33 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


On the other hand, if he had walked in and said he was from Corporate and here to install the new accounting system, the poor cashier probably would have let him in to take all the money.
posted by miyabo at 10:35 AM on October 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


I was genuinely impressed when someone pointed out that most CDs sold on sidewalks are blank. The only thing that topped that was when I learned about lo cal vodka.
posted by PMdixon at 10:35 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, if he had walked in and said he was from Corporate and here to install the new accounting system, the poor cashier probably would have let him in to take all the money.

Literally the best career advice in this thread so far.
posted by griphus at 10:37 AM on October 9, 2015 [37 favorites]


Blatant unashamed theft is literally the american dream so yes.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:39 AM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


the actual bedrock upon which this country was founded!

god all the kids of my friends need to hurry up and enter the job market so i can give them this excellent advice.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:40 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


COFFIN YES this is my spoopy october alias thank u

In retrospect I don't know why I didn't assume that Autocorrect would come for that. I really need to stop using Metafilter from my tablet.
posted by corb at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Literally the best career advice in this thread so far.

There were a few dudes who did this at my old office job! They would be like "so I'm just confirming the printer order, where can we send the invoice?" and I would be like "we didn't buy a printer, that woulda gone through Purchasing" and they'd be like "oh you definitely did, but can i have Purchasing's number so I can sort it out with them" and I'd be like "NO YOU CAN'T MISTER LIAR"
posted by Greg Nog at 10:46 AM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


When I worked retail, we used to get a guy who just called every once in a while and gruffly yell "YOU NEED BAG?" and we'd say no because we usually had bags (custom-printed for the store) and he would immediately hang up.

One time we were running out so I stupidly said "yes" and a few days later a bunch of those THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU bags arrived and I refused delivery. That's how I found out we had an actual reputable bag vendor who did not call the store yelling YOU NEED BAG?
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on October 9, 2015 [34 favorites]


so basically Frank Reynolds is the parent best preparing his children for a successful adulthood
posted by PMdixon at 10:55 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Those fucking printer motherfuckers oh my god. No matter how many all staff meetings I hijacked to remind everyone to just HANG UP ON THEM NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY I would end up having to deal with those assholes at least every other month or so. One super tedious 70something coworker sent out an all-staff email saying how it would be much more professional and polite to ask to speak to their manager and everyone was like "yeah, why don't you go ahead and do that then, bro" and forgot all about it until 2 weeks later when a fucking carton of printer ink showed up with an invoice for $5,000 and i don't really remember what happened after that but i am pretty sure there was blood and crying
posted by poffin boffin at 10:58 AM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


Metafilter: YOU NEED BAG?
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


This advice didn't work in the 1980s either. My mother told me to take the train downtown, go in all the tall buildings and hand out my resume. She seemed flummoxed when I told her they had security and wouldn't even let you past the lobby.
posted by interplanetjanet at 11:29 AM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


i mean maybe you could give your resume to the head of security and say "i would like to be a security guard in this building, here is my security guard experience" but otherwise lol.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:38 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


There are people who offer printers and ink, phone book listings (they will say they are from the Yellow Pages but they are liars), SEO people who tell you they can up your Google stats, people wanting to refinance your mortgage and/or business loan, people offering vacation packages "for your employees' benefit package" as if a free cruise has ever been an employee benefit in the history of ever at a retail store, people selling fruit baskets, people selling sailboats, spa packages, skin products, this one really persistent electrolysis lady (I have really sad facial hair, maybe she thought I was in denial?), and toooooons of fake contractors who insist that corporate sent them to repair the lights, windows, siding, signage, carpet, walls, fixtures, cash registers, computers, tools, company cars (we don't have any), parking lot (we also don't have one, but they will insist we do), and HR/accounting packages. We actually hired a dude who was selling light bulbs because he was actually a nice guy who spoke a language we needed (and who picked up an application while failing to sell our clerks any lightbulbs, probably realizing his job was a scam.)

Apparently the fake contractors are just guys who drive around in an official-looking van hoping that someone will say yes and then be on the hook for their services. Anyone not selling a contractor service usually wore a suit and bolted to the back of the store where they assumed our counter was (it was on the side by the door, somewhat counterintuitive.) So I'd see a dude in a cheap suit rushing back towards the bathrooms and wait for the pitch in a few minutes once he realized there was nobody available. We had a list by the phone of numbers to call, an item on there was "IF SOMEONE IS SELLING SOMETHING, GIVE THEM THE DISTRICT MANAGER'S NUMBER." And yet new employees would constantly get me down from the shop with "Hey, here's someone who has a great idea about our SEO, he wants to talk to the manager..."

I worked at a 150+ chain retail store-- you would think that they would have Google where these salesmen had come from, but apparently not. I kind of don't blame them for trying, thoguh, but swear to god, the majority of the people who come in the store off-peak are just selling scams.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:42 AM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


My mom has never worked a Joe job in her life. She's always been a teacher. Much love to teachers, but when you've spent your entire working life in schools, you get a little blinkered. She's continuously puzzled I don't have a week off around major holidays and 3 months of vacation in the summer.

So naturally she's trying to get me to move back home. "BUT WE HAVE COMPUTERS HERE YOU WORK WITH COMPUTERS." "No I don't, I work in marketing and PR for..." "WE NEED THAT HERE I SAW A PLACE TODAY THAT REALLY COULD USE SOME MARKETING YOU SHOULD CALL THEM! YOUR SISTER NEEDS A ROOMMATE!"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:19 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Another "helpful" piece of advice I got when I was looking for work post college was to just wait tables or do retail work. Anyone can get that kind of job!

Except that my high school and college part time jobs had all been office grunt work (filing, etc). And it turns out, it's not so easy to get a job as a waiter or selling clothes if you've never done it before. And I even had a college diploma! (Which would not have been at all useful, but it seems like everyone expects it for every job these days.) I remember filling out an online application for a job at Target, and they pretty much immediately rejected me.

I've also learned to be very wary of jobs that are too easy to get. Like that one summer when I was in college, and I got hired to do that canvassing for non profits thing. I was idealistic and totally into saving the world back then, and it's not easy getting a full time short term job, so I was thrilled when I filled out an application, did a phone interview, and then got hired immediately after the phone interview.

And then I showed up to work a couple weeks after that, and I found out that unless we got donations adding up to $150 within our first three days (and not cumulative, it had to be $150 on a single day) we would get fired. Oh, and we also had to get at least three people who were willing to sign on to do monthly donations. Three people in a single day.

Not surprisingly, the more "experienced" person I got paired up with had been doing the job for like two weeks. Did I mention that this wasn't the door to door thing. This was standing on the sidewalk, trying to get people to give you money. Fun fact: People don't particularly want to had over a check to some random person on the sidewalk. Also, lots of people just ignore you. One person offered to give me $20 if I would blow him, and then there were multiple people who were nice enough to talk to me but who were unemployed.

And that's how I ended up being fired three days into my "awesome" summer job.

(Incidentally, you should never give money to those canvassing people when it's a third party thing because I'm pretty sure the actual nonprofits only got a fraction of the proceeds.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:20 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


we used to get a guy who just called every once in a while and gruffly yell "YOU NEED BAG?"

This is a lot of what shows up in the MetaFilter contact form, too.
posted by cortex at 12:46 PM on October 9, 2015 [31 favorites]


Was there a blog for that or am I making that up?
posted by griphus at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2015


(Incidentally, you should never give money to those canvassing people when it's a third party thing because I'm pretty sure the actual nonprofits only got a fraction of the proceeds.)

This is not true, to my knowledge.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2015


From "Gross Profit: Money Given to Clipboard Kids Rarely Makes It to Nonprofits" in SF Weekly:
According to the state's most recent data from 2009, charities kept an average of 42 percent of the total funds raised by commercial fundraisers.
So in this California analysis, more than half of the money raised goes to the for-profit canvassing businesses.
posted by grouse at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Was there a blog for that or am I making that up?

THANK YOU FOR CONTACTING METAFILTER
posted by cortex at 12:56 PM on October 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


YOU NEED FLAG?
posted by dr_dank at 1:02 PM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


Next thing you're gonna tell me that the $1 I paid for gummi bears isn't actually going to help a basketball team.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on October 9, 2015


(Seriously though if anyone can explain that racket I am super curious about it.)
posted by griphus at 1:03 PM on October 9, 2015


those kids on the subway are probably the candy driver's CHILDREN and he is using them to STEAL FROM HIS EMPLOYER and you should call 911 right now
posted by poffin boffin at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


So my office is more-or-less hidden because we don't get a lot of clients in the office. You have to go through a barely-marked door, up a really steep staircase and then there's a door with a paper sign on it.

So one day this kid, no older than 12, shows up selling those off-brand chocolate bars you're probably familiar with if you know what I am talking about:
"Hi, would you like to buy some chocolate for [bullshit]"
"No thanks."
And he just looks at me dead in the eyes: "Why not?"

I closed the door in his face but I honestly regret not buying chocolate from him because that kid is going places.
posted by griphus at 1:10 PM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


next time just flex at him and say NO CARBS BRO
posted by poffin boffin at 1:14 PM on October 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


I had some friends who did the subway racket. Basically as far as I understand, you buy the candy in bulk from some guy, then you sell it on the subway at inflated prices, and split the profits. I don't think it's actually going to a basketball team. Or maybe my friends were just shysters.
posted by corb at 1:20 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm maybe 105% sure it's not actually going to a basketball team (I mean maybe incidentally) but it's the organization I'm wondering about. Like the ones who hang out in the Pacific St. station have laminated price sheets and they're pretty clearly coached in what to say and how to say it so I feel like it's a relatively organized hustle.

And I'm pretty sure they'd be interested in this new accounting system I'd like to show you.
posted by griphus at 1:26 PM on October 9, 2015


Back in 2009, my life basically bombed thanks to a mental health crisis. Dad decided to be Very Helpful and said 'tell you what, I'll hire you and your job will be getting a job! just keep me updated every couple of days'

What ensued was a mild version of hell. Being exhorted to Pound The Pavement and Take Any Job, You Can't Be Picky, when most of the stuff available with a minimum of spoons is craigslist scams and positions where the pay wouldn't even come close to the cost of the medications that would keep me employed, assuming there was one that might eventually work. Shambling from business to business and leaving résumés because Doing What You're Told keeps you under a roof even as the voice on the other end of the phone changes tone from bafflement that you haven't found something to disappointment because you're not trying hard enough to frustration because You Can't Do Anything Right to anger because Why The Hell Am I Paying You and the answer I choke back in the pharmacy parking lot is because you want a son instead of a corpse.

So yeah, that story hit a little close to home
posted by mikurski at 1:41 PM on October 9, 2015 [25 favorites]


I mean, I think part of the problem is that in some states, it is illegal to turn down a paying job and stay on unemployment.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:45 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, my organization refuses to hire anyone new and we're at bare minimum of staff, so every time someone's sick, we have dominoes falling all over the place. Given how awful the learning curve at this job is, and how we have plenty of halfway trained entry level people around that have to leave when their contract is up....come on.

This leads me to....

Honest Cover Letter.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:59 PM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I live in the capital city of my province. The number of times my mom's told me to put on a nice shirt and drop off a resume at Parliament...
posted by EmGeeJay at 2:03 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: "And at the same time, there are still new graduates who think they can apply to a job without a cover letter. So..."

I haven't needed a cover letter to apply for a job in fifteen years. And I've been screening and interviewing people for that same amount of time and I've never seen a cover letter; if they get them I assume that HR throws them out. Are there industries where they're still a thing?
posted by octothorpe at 2:14 PM on October 9, 2015


Are there industries where they're still a thing?

Every professional office job in NYC I've ever heard of. I assume most places are the same.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:15 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've also never written or seen a cover letter. I've been a software engineer for about 15 years. I'm guessing it varies a lot by industry, or maybe location
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:19 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Incidentally, you should never give money to those canvassing people when it's a third party thing because I'm pretty sure the actual nonprofits only got a fraction of the proceeds.)

This is not true, to my knowledge.


Yeah, I shouldn't have been so flippant about that. I thought I read that when I was researching the company after the fact, but based on googling now, I couldn't find any supporting data so maybe my angry brain added that in to my memory.

However, a quick google search for Fund for the Public Interest, which is the group I worked for, will show that at the very least their employment practices are so deplorable that I would still recommend not supporting them, in particular (link 1 and link 2). (After I got fired, I did a lot of angry googling about the company in between applying to jobs on Craigslist; too bad I didn't do all that googling before I accepted the job offer). However, what I said only applies to the Fund for the Public Interest. There are probably other third party fundraisers that are totally legit.

(Sorry for the derail, but I realized that I should have been more specific when I was bitching about them, since I wouldn't want to discourage people from donating to worthy causes.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:26 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are there industries where they're still a thing?

Every job posting in the nonprofit sector asks for a cover letter; I have no idea if anyone actually reads them.
posted by naoko at 2:41 PM on October 9, 2015


Yeah, I shouldn't have been so flippant about that. I thought I read that when I was researching the company after the fact, but based on googling now, I couldn't find any supporting data so maybe my angry brain added that in to my memory.

See my comment above. You were correct: the non-profits do, in fact, get only a fraction of the proceeds.
posted by grouse at 2:41 PM on October 9, 2015


It's so easy to get a job at Business Office, first find the seven shards of the employment crystal hidden in the different themed section of this city!

fucking spoiler that shit omg now i'm never playing Get Job again

But seriously, I came home from freshman year of college. My dad said, "Get a job." So I got a job. My dad said, and I'm not joking, "Get a second job." So I did. Then my dad said, "Get a third job." and I told him he was insane and never went home for a summer again.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:54 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Every job posting in the nonprofit sector asks for a cover letter; I have no idea if anyone actually reads them.

This is true. And they don't list salary because...
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:55 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


My entire career, such as it has been, was due to a stroke of luck that I like to call "being able to turn a computer on and count to four successfully during the upswing of the Tech Bubble." I was 20, it was late 1995, I had failed out of college due to Reasons, I was at home and hanging out with ne'er-do-well friends and one of them said she had to go downtown to pick up her paycheck from her temp agency, and did I want to go with? sure I did! So I went into the temp agency and mentioned offhandedly to the receptionist that I had actually seen and used a beta copy of Windows 95 once, and then there was a great WHOOSHING sound and I was in the back room taking their computer tests, which I aced. They put me on the phone doing seasonal technical support for the DOS version of Flight Simulator (remember flight simulator?) two days later.

After the Christmas rush was over (remember when people would buy DOS FlightSim as Christmas presents?) they decided I had what it took to be a good support agent and placed me "permanently" at the tech support company supporting Windows 95, which had just launched. They gave me a solid week of training and stuck me on the phones, paying me $9.50 an hour -- more than double the federal minimum wage, and ALMOST double Washington State's minimum wage. After six months, they promoted me to Senior Tech Support, and gave me a $4/hr raise.

A few months after that, I was updating my resume to reflect my promotion, and I did a test print on some of my Good Resume Paper (remember when that was a thing?) and accidentally left one of the copies in my boyfriend's printer. That night, a friend of his came over, grabbed that copy of my resume, and gave it to his boss at Microsoft. I got a phone call the next day asking me to come in and interview for a (contract) DirectX software testing position -- a field in which I had literally zero experience. They offered me the job on the spot, with a starting wage of $17.60 an hour, time and a half for overtime -- which was nearly infinite.

I bounced around through Microsoft as a contract tester for several more years, always successfully negotiating a pretty big wage increase with each transfer. When they converted many of their contract positions to permanent positions in 2000, I got sick of waiting to be interviewed and sent out (one) resume to a server-software dot-com, who again hired me on the spot. I worked there for about fifteen months, and then got hit in the third round of layoffs. By then I was really burnt out and had massive RSI problems, and I took some time off to recover and then bummed around doing part-time networking and hardware work, and then I had kids &c. &c. and now as it turns out you can't get a real job with real benefits unless you actually have SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE and shit. You can't even get a crappy fake job with no benefits without that if you don't have a college degree!

For everyone saying "oh, these people are responding to some idolized version of what they remember, it was never like that"; it was, in fact, like that. Not everywhere, not all the time, but there have definitely been times in recent American history when you could just show up full of moxie and spunk and a willingness to work hard and get a real job in return. That starting wage I got when I went to Microsoft? That's over $26 an hour in 2015 dollars. Can you imagine how different this country would be if it was still possible anywhere to land a job like that under those circumstances?
posted by KathrynT at 2:59 PM on October 9, 2015 [43 favorites]


This is true. And they don't list salary because...

If you have to ask, you can't afford it?
posted by asperity at 3:13 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


And it turns out, it's not so easy to get a job as a waiter or selling clothes if you've never done it before.

Yeah, I was laughed at (actually laughed at) when I applied for a few serving jobs, a couple of years ago. I learned that it takes ~2 years to work your way up from expediting or hostessing at a high-volume casual restaurant to a plushy server role in a "fine dining" setup. (That was just before I reached a critical mass of tendon problems from high-risk activities like sweeping. So good thing it didn't work out, I guess.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:00 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


(My mom's idea is that I should become a wedding singer. Which I don't hate, actually [buy shiny dresses and write them off as a business expense? Sure, ok] and would consider, if iTunes etc hadn't mostly killed that industry. [Which I actually approve of, speaking as a guest.])
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:07 PM on October 9, 2015


See my comment above. You were correct: the non-profits do, in fact, get only a fraction of the proceeds.

Totally missed seeing that when I was catching up with the thread. Thanks for linking to that article! At least I can take heart in knowing that I only was involved with that crap for a couple of very long stressful days.

My second worst job, after the canvassing one, was doing call center work. Nothing worse than having your every movement tracked by that computer system (since you had to log out every time you needed to run to the bathroom or whatever so that your phone wouldn't ring) and having all your calls recorded, and then being forced to listen to the call and grade yourself and then sit down with your supervisor and have them grade you, and then be forced to answer for every single mark. Like:

"Oh, you gave yourself a 7 for your introduction? I gave you a 5 because you didn't do this and this..."

"You only gave yourself a 6 for your sign off? Hm, I gave you a 7."

Seriously, you got shit if you graded yourself higher or lower than the supervisor. It was one of the most stressful three months of my life. Overall, they actually really liked me, but I basically had a nervous breakdown, so I bailed after my 3 month temp contract was over.

Also, applying to jobs is soul crushing. All those resumes and cover letters (all jobs I applied to required them), knowing that probably nothing would pan out, having people tell you to "network" even when you have like zero network, and why don't you just call up some companies or show up their door or go on some informational interviews, etc, etc, etc. Meanwhile I'm stuck putting my student loans in forbearance because well, no money.

I'm so glad I've lucked into a job that I enjoy, working with very nice, sane, reasonable people, pays a decent wage, and where I don't have the prospect of being fired hanging over my head at all times. Seriously, I'm so grateful for this job.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:59 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


False. Per the White House: More Millennials have a college degree than any other generation of young adults.

Uh, it's not false, but perhaps some remedial statistics are in order. Both statistics can be true at the same time because they are measuring different things. There are more millennials than any other generation, influencing the fact that there are more degrees. They also happen to exist during an expansion of higher learning opportunities and, as we've noted to our dismay, an expansion of credit for education, so an individual milennial is more likely than an individual from any other generation to have a college degree. But the actual figure of those who have completed a bachelor's degree by age 32 (when the majority of people have completed post-secondary education), is roughly two-thirds, give or take a few points. The White House's figure was 47 percent, but a Pew Charitable Trust survey placed it closer to 40%. It depends on where you set the age definitions for the generation - research variously cuts of "milennial" at 40, 35, 32 and even some others - because obviously wider parameters will change the percentage overall. The upshot is that the majority of people in the cohort have not been able to access that achievement.There are also very disparate rates of attainment male to female, and milennials who have not achieved a degree have the worst prospects for self-support and career outcomes in decades, with many living in serious poverty. The college degree divide is predicted to continue to contribute to income inequality within the generation, a serious bifurcation of the group's economic future.

You say this right after you say that you're okay with other people having do to unpaid labor because YOU also had to do unpaid labor. This is literally the exact attitude that perpetuates generational snark.

No, you misread. It's not generational snark (especially because I assume Urban Outfitters' managerial group is mostly of my generation), it's a note about the nature of a salaried work agreement. Is it ideal that you can be asked - or required - to put in extra hours on "other duties as assigned?" No. But it is a legal and practical norm in salaried work and has been true in every salaried job I've ever held, whether it means putting in additional hours to ready something for shipping, traveling for business meetings, or doing openings or seasonal events or whatever. Many jobs feature this. Changing that has nothing to do with changing intergenerational interactions and everything to do with tax and labor law and shareholder pressure and scarcity of employment and oversupply of workers.

This is all I'm saying, my 30,000-ft point: we have structural issues in this economy that aren't about blazers and aren't about generations, and they won't be solved at that level.

Are there industries where they're still a thing?

In my (arts/humanities) field, absolutely necessary, and we give them a close read and note the details of tone, spelling, argument. The jobs involve a lot of writing and external communication, so the cover letter is kind of your first pitch on that.
posted by Miko at 5:26 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I apply for jobs constantly (I have part-time work adjuncting). I get excited when they actually bother to send me a rejection because that means that at least at some point a human being saw my effort.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:16 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Are there industries where they're still a thing?

Cover letters are absolutely a thing in my field, at least for white collar positions. I haven't found them terribly informative when I've been hiring, but they are still expected.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:48 PM on October 9, 2015


Around 2004, a family friend (I helped with his computer and fixed some vintage amplifiers) kindly offered to write me a reference letter to help with my job hunt. I hesitantly took him up on his offer. It basically said "Pong74LS is really good with computers and can use a soldering iron too so he would make a wonderful addition to your company." I thanked him, filed it away in a drawer and never brought it up again.

I switched jobs about a year ago. To get my current position:
1) Applied to nearly 50 postings over six months, received 2 phone calls back which resulted in 1 interview.
2) Had 2 in person interviews, one with HR person and one with production engineers.
3) Worked a whole 8 hour shift as a practical interview
4) Another in person interview with HR person

All this for a $14 an hour assembler job that is mostly putting circuit boards in to enclosures. For reference, I was making $14 assembling computers back in 2004. "Welcome to the real world" as my parents would say.
posted by Pong74LS at 6:52 PM on October 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is all I'm saying, my 30,000-ft point: we have structural issues in this economy that aren't about blazers and aren't about generations, and they won't be solved at that level.

This is totally uncertain, and I tend to disagree. The snark—meaning, the expressions of bitter resentment, etc.—and the intergenerational conflict are both totally essential to the core socio-, political, economic problem, for the reason that they are precisely the very evidence of ongoing dialectical conflict. When you try to ignore certain aspects and say the problem-solution must only be law/policy/class/labor or any of the other similar abstraction levels, that itself is already committing the pitfall of reductive thinking. In my understanding, this is a well-known pitfall according to much critical theory. Without one facet you can't authentically reason about the others - each of these are critically interrelated.

Now I am going back to studying Capital, Volume I and these kinds of discussions reminds me to recommend that more people - exploited and exploiter alike - should at least try to look at some political theory so as not to repeat the same problematic arguments that experts have already written down. Oh wait, but privilege.
posted by polymodus at 7:25 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another data point re cover letters: I'm a software engineer, and they're totally not a thing in my field; they're pretty much exclusively seen as archaic and pointless. I think it may just depend on how writing/communication based the job is.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:40 PM on October 9, 2015


I see your point, polymodus. Perhaps it would be closer to my meaning if I said it wasn't only about blazers, etc.
posted by Miko at 7:47 PM on October 9, 2015


Are there industries where they're still a thing?

I currently work at a University, and before that nonprofits, and totally still a thing. If you can't write an error-free cover letter (ie: everything spelled correctly, no giant typos, correct punctuation, I'm not even talking about style here) you don't make the first cut. We probably weed out around 35% of applicants based on really stupid and small errors on the cover letter alone.

That being said, we've been trying to hire a new person in our department (fundraising) since July and have only gotten one applicant that even made it to the interview stage, largely because people can't seem to make the connection between whatever their job was previously and what this job is in their application materials. So, if anyone is near Portland, ME, can write a cover letter, and is interested in making personal connections with established university donors, drop me a line. Because we can't seem to find anyone that wants our actually pretty cushy job.
posted by anastasiav at 7:54 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


In addition to everything covered in this article, my parents also have no idea of what rent is and were appalled when I was paying $425/month for an apartment two blocks away from my university.

"$425 a month? In Detroit?!?" they'd say, "Is there a pool and a parking garage included?"
posted by palindromic at 8:27 PM on October 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


All this for a $14 an hour assembler job that is mostly putting circuit boards in to enclosures. For reference, I was making $14 assembling computers back in 2004. "Welcome to the real world" as my parents would say.

Word. I was recently offered a senior/managerial staff position in my field (I've been freelance/contract for several years now) at the same salary I was offered for my entry-level assistant job in 2004.

Oh and did I mention that this job would have required relocating to the opposite end of the country, and living in one of the most expensive zip codes in the nation, and no, they sure as fuck weren't going to pay my relocation.

The guy was genuinely shocked that I didn't accept. Because we're all just supposed to beg for literally any scrap, right?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:29 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, I forgot how my dad used to be all, "You could get a job in Saudi Arabia for a couple of years and be set for life!"

I got this advice from an older relative recently, except it's almost relevant because I have a degree related to the oil industry. So I go look at the job he was talking about and it says masters required, ten years experience required and I apply to a job that only needed a highschool diploma instead, because I still have loans. For sixteen years of my life everybody said that as long as I got a degree, and it was in a practical scientific field, I'd be able to get a job relatively quickly and easily. It wasn't until after I graduated that all of the hiring managers in my field started saying you only got one degree? What kind of fucking idiot only gets one degree? Three months after graduation I got laughed out of a job fair I'd driven seven hours to get to because I only had one degree.

On favors: my mom did a favor for someone whose daughter works in a temp agency I'd dealt with before. The other parent was shocked that her daughter's company had utterly failed to follow up on my multiple interviews with their people or my subsequent phone calls. Her daughter was also reportedly shocked that her company would be so incompetent at their one line of business. So she promised her daughter would absolutely, definitely, one hundred percent get me a job. In august. Haven't heard from her since. A couple of weeks ago I applied for something from that temp agency the normal way. Again, they called me and gave me a phone interview, said I did great, set up an interview, promised to email me the location of the interview, then never sent the email and didn't answer the phone. Must've been a couple of those 3pm department lunches.

Anyway my loan deferment is ending and I need to see if I can get one more or if that was the last one I'm allowed before I just default.
posted by sandswipe at 9:14 PM on October 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Anyway my loan deferment is ending and I need to see if I can get one more or if that was the last one I'm allowed before I just default.

I think I'm just about out of those, too. Graduated a shitty law school in 2010, yay I'm fucked forever. What can one even do when that happens? Because I sure as shit can't pay it.
posted by kafziel at 11:05 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: this garbage fire we call a society
posted by Rangi at 7:32 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


polymodus, your remarks about critical interrelation are about as wrong as wrong can be. miko, you more than accommodating by even acknowledging that ridiculously overwrought intellectualist derail about fixing the economic problems which have produced a generation of highly-educated and massively-indebted unemployed young people.

Arguments about the effectiveness of blazers, for one terrible example and which is the whole damn point of the FPP'ed short, in the context of an oversupply of labor are symptomatic. Hashing such arguments out, intergenerationally or otherwise, will do NOTHING to fix the asymmetrical power relations that affect the outcome of interactions between employers and job candidates.

For a biological analogy, taking Imodium when you've contracted cholera won't save you from dying.

A number of commenters above have mentioned not being able to find entry level jobs as service and/or retail workers. The problem is an oversupply of labor and one tactic for landing such jobs is to not appear too smart and to not reveal your overqualification. That is, employers with dead end jobs want employees with few options and they know, all too well, that college-educated staff have a sense of how things can be better and managers know such highly-educated persons will quit at the first better opportunity that presents itself and or challenge their managerial competency.

Of course, the real problem of not being able to land an "entry-level" job is that there are too many entry-level applicants, aka it's the game not the playas.

KathrynT's comment above is fantastic for a thousand reasons, one of them being that it is a glimpse into an era that no longer exists.

On the other hand, hers is also a tale about boomtimes. That is, her self-described underqualification (which if accurate was likely offset by what those who employed her recognized as her extreme suitability) may not have mattered because in addition to demonstrating capacity in a technological domain, there was an undersupply of labor. Her qualification was that she understood computers and how to interact with them.

Today, such skills are not so rare. However, the business needs for people who can work with computers to this day outstrips the availability of such people. So much so, that even the simplest jobs in the tech world cannot be staffed quickly enough.

There is an undersupply of labor in the domain of information technology.

I say this as someone who did win the academic lottery by landing a tenure-track job in English at a Carnegie Mellon R2 university who eventually abandoned his post to try his luck in the world of (software) web development.

As an Ph.D.-holding candidate, about 20-40 jobs were listed per year in my field (post-1945 American Literature and Critical Theory), and the cover letters I wrote took more than a week to craft, often requiring 20 or more revisions a piece. I'd land maybe 3 interviews in a good year.

When I went finally went looking for tech employment with a 6-month gap between abandoning my professorship and responding to Craigslist ads, I had an interview within a day and was employed within 5 (2 of those days being weekend days).

In 2011, I left that job to work for a friend's "startup" (his business plans were somewhere between shaky and nonexistent) and was laid off after 3 months. I needed a job fast so went to the recruiter of a friend. On my first interview, I landed a full-time job with benefits and overtime and matching 401(k) etc. etc.

While I have many skills, I am NOT a particularly gifted software developer. But there is a strong need for people who have ANY experience in the domain of computing.

Going into information technology is not going to work for everyone nor for every Millenial, but it is a lead. Like any kind of literacy, software development rewards the autodidactic (HELLO METAFILTER) and if that's not your thing, there are training courses (a little pricey, well worth the debt if you have the credit) that will prepare you to being working in an entry-level in the world of software. And then there are all the free-to-take MOOCs offered by MIT, Stanford, and all kinds of for-profit-and-otherwise institutions. (Yes, you will have to be immensely privileged and wealthy to even have a device and Internet-connectivity to take advantage of such resources. I wish I could provide these for you if you don't have them.)

For those with softer skills, KathrynT's pathway of customer support and QA is also another point of entry. A former student of mine (Millennial) with only a baccalaureate entered the world of software earlier than I did, and she makes 50% more than I do. She is intelligent and thoughtful but she was not a computer whiz by any measure, including her own.

So, if the problem is an oversupply of labor, one possibility is to go to a boomtown. Remember North Dakota? Yeah that boom is now bust but tech is still booming.

Here is some old-man prognostication for you: Tech is not going to go bust. It is the future of humankind. The need for software developers and people and institutions than can support information technology is only going to grow. Sure there will be ups and downs but the need will only increase.

If you have two neurons to rub together, can work through uncertainty (i.e. teach yourself new techniques with Google-fu) and see projects through to completion, and you think you might be able to work all day in front of computer, consider learning how to code, how to evaluate code, manipulate user interfaces, whatever. I do no advise specializing in UX (User eXperience) because designers are still overabundant and so poorly compensated.

Tech is not a panacea. Some shops engage in death marches. There is the abuse of exempt status. There is stack ranking and other forms of bad managerial practice. But these things exist outside of boomtowns, too.

The difference is that in boomtown, rather than pounding pavement looking for jobs, strangers, friends, and former coworkers contact you by email, phone, and text with job offers every day of the week.

And to be clear, I am not a particularly fantastic coder. My colleagues come from varied backgrounds. My first post-academic boss did not have a college degree.

Oh, another piece of advice: move to where the action is. I mean, you *could* find remote (once known as "telecommuting") work outside a tech hub, but being where the action is (Bay Area, NYC, Chicago, Seattle, LA, Portland, etc.) provides more opportunities as well as faster enculturation.
posted by mistersquid at 9:33 AM on October 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I can't get enough credible applicants for my federal service jobs. I have "hire until we tell you to stop" authority and last year managed to get 152.

I understand all too well that it's not glamorous, nobody's getting rich, the starting pay is low (but advancement well-defined, non-arbitrary, and works up to a pretty generous pay/benefits combo). We get snubbed by recent grads all the time who want to be engineers making six figures, and want it right away.

I don't know what that says, but from all the talk in this thread and others similar to it in the past, I'd think it wouldn't be so hard.
posted by ctmf at 9:39 AM on October 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I mean, we've pretty much given up on avoiding hiring family members. It's not like they're taking jobs someone else wants.
posted by ctmf at 9:41 AM on October 10, 2015


I finally shut my mother up about not wearing a necktie to work, when I explained the simple correlation:

"I don't wear a tie to work because I don't wear a nametag at work."

She shook her head and moaned about how people should dress nicely but never pressed the issue again.

Of course, I only realised this was true when I went to an interview in a blazer and everyone mistook me for security.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 11:25 AM on October 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


This thread had made my attitude towards self-employment go from 'well at least I like what I do and I'm not completely broke' to 'holy shit I have dodged a veritable hailstorm of bullets.'

Thanks?

(it has, at least, been over a year since my mother last tried to convince me to get a job 'you know, temping, or as a receptionist somewhere. It wouldn't be hard!' My job skills consist of: being able to ID the decade of manufacture of any garment from the last 200 years; creative writing; some Photoshop experience. Also good with children.)
posted by nonasuch at 11:26 AM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The bitch of it is, I was a really good support agent. I was a MUCH better support agent than I was a QA engineer. Angry customers, frustrated customers, ignorant customers, customers who didn't know anywhere near as much as they thought they did, customers who called in yelling about how their Microsoft was broken and nothing they did made any difference -- I was great with all of them. I found the job extremely satisfying, and went home every day feeling like I had helped the world become a better place in some tiny and incremental way. If there was a way to do end-user technical support that wasn't subject to dehumanizing management practices and poverty wages, I would go back to that field in a heartbeat.
posted by KathrynT at 1:06 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


My bacon has been saved so many times by intelligent, kind, patient support agents that I agree it should be a well-remunerated career.

It's a good example of how careers that provide services that we need and value the most don't always pay commensurately higher wages. I've read about this phenomenon, but don't remember the economics argument, but it's something to do with how wage rates are determined more by how much capital is in the industry rather than by the value of a service on a personal or societal outcomes level. I reacll reading in depth about this in relation to the finance industry argument you heard a lot around the time of the economic crash, about how banking salaries had to be so insanely high to attract the "best and brightest," but that talent had nothing much to do with it. In an industry where people who have figured out how to earn thousands of a penny on a single trade transaction and can do that by aggregating millions of such transactions , there builds up an obscene pile of capital that has to be spent out, and offering obnoxiously high salaries, justified by some claptrap about talent, is one way that happens - even though many sectors of the finance industry are delivering almost nothing of value.

Our society has a lot of work that needs doing at a high level of professionalism, but draws few sources of capital to fund it because it cannot be made to return those dividend rates.
posted by Miko at 1:31 PM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


KathrynT, well-remunerated support does happen in the context of b2b and the professional distance between end user and client support is not so large.

I think the former student I mentioned may have started her support career with end users, though I'm not sure. (My reason for mentioning her in the first place was that she started and continues to be in support, which I didn't explicitly mention in my comment.)

She finds her job very fulfilling, if that makes any difference to your considering a role in client support.
posted by mistersquid at 4:22 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I heard someone say once that there are only four growing industries in the US: tech, finance, government, and medicine. Obviously that's a massive oversimplification but it's an interesting lens to look through when you're looking at successful and unsuccessful career paths.
posted by miyabo at 9:24 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tech is not going to go bust. It is the future of humankind. The need for software developers and people and institutions than can support information technology is only going to grow. Sure there will be ups and downs but the need will only increase.

If you have two neurons to rub together, can work through uncertainty (i.e. teach yourself new techniques with Google-fu) and see projects through to completion, and you think you might be able to work all day in front of computer, consider learning how to code, how to evaluate code, manipulate user interfaces, whatever. I do no advise specializing in UX (User eXperience) because designers are still overabundant and so poorly compensated.

Tech is not a panacea.


Your writing is full of contradictions and incomplete reasoning, why should I even bother to reply when you call me "wrong as can be" and rely on spurious labels to attack the ideas I have read about and have been thinking over?

There is an undersupply of labor in the domain of information technology.

IEEE Spectrum already wrote a series about this issue (and I think it was posted to Metafilter last year) addressing this very topic. Your thesis come across as ignorant and ill-informed.

Yes, so I do have doctorate-level training at a top-10 engineering department. Just because we disagree doesn't mean you get away with having a conversation this way. I've disagreed on politics with my fellow students and it's never been like this. I'm offended both by the way you've chosen to engage with me in this space, and by the quality of your rebuttal which tries to come off as having the right answers.
posted by polymodus at 3:53 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Additionally, one of the problems I see is people with the misconception that "programming" is easy to pick up and earn a living with. Since they haven't actually studied computer science in a university setting, they aren't exposed to the social and cultural issues involved in the engineering fields. At UC Berkeley, all CS first-years learn about ethics through the Therac 25 incident, for instance. In parallel, no practicing low-skill programmer is ever given the chance to study fundamental theoretical computer science, whereas all American university students get some significant exposure at the second-year level. Many walk away from these courses discovering that the pragmatic computing they did in high school (if any!) is nothing at all like what computing is all about. These educational differences—despite the academic institutional setting i.e. for better or worse—do shape programmer's worldviews, views on what's important about technology, economics, policy, and so on.
posted by polymodus at 4:19 PM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


polymodus, your first comment in this thread, in my opinion, is nonsense. My reaction was strong because the content of your response is self-serving. I mean listen to yourself:
Now I am going back to studying Capital, Volume I and these kinds of discussions reminds me to recommend that more people - exploited and exploiter alike - should at least try to look at some political theory so as not to repeat the same problematic arguments that experts have already written down. Oh wait, but privilege.
Who are you accusing of having privilege? You practically invite disrespect with such a condescending tone.

Furthermore, the two sentences of mine you emphasize are not contradictory, not that I worry about contradicting myself. That is, the future of humankind is not a panacea. I really don't see a problem with that.

I will not try to evade your charges of ignorance because I know my ignorance to be vast and and deep and it seems, to me, to increase with every new thing I learn.

That said, if you would like to further call me out for offending you, let's take it to memail. I'm sure we will have a much more entertaining conversation one on one.
posted by mistersquid at 4:40 PM on October 11, 2015


Who are you accusing of having privilege?

Me. I was actually referring to myself.

So it appears your strong reaction was because you misread, or misinterpreted.
posted by polymodus at 1:57 AM on October 12, 2015


Furthermore, the two sentences of mine you emphasize are not contradictory, not that I worry about contradicting myself. That is, the future of humankind is not a panacea. I really don't see a problem with that.

I see a problem with it, and moreover for the record I saw 5 distinct examples of contradiction in your lengthy remarks. But at this point I will assume your various written hostility was due to the initial misreading. Hopefully this exchange can be left at that.

For final clarification I'll add that my first comment was meant for Miko's remark specifically, and not my own invention but primarily paraphrasing material from a podcast lecture I have been learning from.
posted by polymodus at 2:00 AM on October 12, 2015


Roger.
posted by mistersquid at 9:10 AM on October 12, 2015


Metafilter: YOU NEED BLOG?

Yes.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

*Invoice for $5.00.*
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:20 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, polymodus, I did misread your meaning and now regret being so disrespectful in my characterization of your arguments.

I apologize and will be more careful in the future.
posted by mistersquid at 5:18 PM on October 12, 2015


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