BY JEREMY BLACHMAN
I showed up too late to the job fair this past Friday. All of the stress balls were gone. They’re my all-time favorite job fair giveaway. Overall, I was pretty underwhelmed with the things the law firms had for us. I ended up with a yo-yo, a couple of highlighters (including a really cool – but fundamentally impossible to hold in one hand and actually write with – three-sided futuristic highlighter-slash-boomerang), more pens than I’ll ever use, a garbage pail full of fake-velvet pen cases (the point of which are completely and utterly unclear to me – are they saying their pens are so valuable, you need to protect them in a tiny bag or risk them getting – what – dusty?), and a tremendous block of post-it notes from the law firm of Sticky & Stickier, LLP, whatever that stands for. Lonely Law-firm Partners, perhaps? Lawyers Loot People? Less Life Probable? Long Long Projects? Let us Leave, Please.
The yo-yo I got came in an impenetrable container. I felt awfully silly standing in front of the recruiter trying to wedge open the box. “I’m not smart enough to open a metal container, but I’d like a job at your firm.” I would have felt stupider if I’d actually handed her a resume. I only gave out one, printed on plain white paper, rolled up in a ball in my pocket. I only handed it out because the woman asked for one when I reached for the velvet pen case.
“Which office do you want to work for?” she asked.
“New York,” I said, confidently.
“Oh. We don’t have a New York office.”
“I meant Washington, D.C.”
“We don’t have a Washington office.”
“Nope.” She pointed to some pile of glossy literature I hadn’t noticed, in between the mints and the chocolate bars. “Our offices are listed in here. Atlanta, Milwaukee and San Francisco.”
“I guess I’ll go with Milwaukee,” I said, hoping I wouldn’t be asked why.
“Why?” she asked.
“I hear it’s nice there,” I lied.
“Okay,” she said, pitying me and my chances of finding a job. Amazingly enough, she actually wrote “Milwaukee” on the top of my resume and put it in a pile. That pile just happened to be in the trash can. As I walked away, I saw her take the “moron” rubber stamp from her pocket, and stamp my resume three times, one for each city I didn’t know they didn’t have offices in.
Undergraduate job fairs were more fun than this one. I went to a technology job fair once, and walked away with seven t-shirts, four stress balls, a Koosh yo-yo, three cookies, a Nerf football, four daily planners and, unfortunately, an interview. Which, oddly enough, ended up being the job I took coming out of college.
“I traded my resume for a t-shirt at a career fair, and it just sort of snowballed from there,” became the line I’d use when people asked me why I chose to come work there. No one else seemed to find it amusing.
On my way out of the job fair, I passed by the ACLU table. They were giving away some kind of small metallic container with a pull-tab. It looked very much like those small cream cheese packets they have at the Hark, or on airplanes, or in the kinds of restaurants where waffles are available 24 hours a day. Cream cheese or jelly, perhaps. I was sure it was one of the two. I was assuming they had run out of bagels, and were just left with the spreads. I’m glad I didn’t ask them about the bagels, because it wasn’t cream cheese. And I’m not sure that a bagel and a condom makes for a very satisfying afternoon snack.
Seriously, why would the ACLU decide to give out condoms at a career fair? What career were they pushing? Does taking a bunch of free condoms make you a more attractive potential employee? “Hey, you taking all the condoms – looks like you’d be perfect around the office. With our Christmas party coming up and everything… can I see your resume?”
I’ve already broken the yo-yo. Oh well. I’m sure there’ll be more next year. Just a few.
[This story was posted on December 9, 2002 and did not originally appear in a printed edition of the paper. Eds.]