Exit, pursued by a bear
Cartoon contributed by Panopticon on Facebook.
Like a young bird leaving the nest of academia, just to be shot down by the hunter of reality and run over by the bus of unemployment, I am about to graduate and enter the real world. Maybe. Depending on how that car crash of a macroeconomics exam went.
But operating on the assumption that I did scrape a pass, I would love to tell you, dear reader, that I’m in a state of euphoria. That feelings of accomplishment and preparedness are gushing through my being. That I’m confident I’ve been equipped with the life skills to face ‘the real world.’ But in all honesty, I feel just like I did at the end of last year and the year before that. Like a guinea pig that has successfully demonstrated its ability to mindlessly exercise in its running wheel on command. ‘Look employers, I can succumb to authority and produce reasonable work. Hire me!’
Sorry, is that too edgy for you? Better rein it in. Wouldn't want to seem overly cynical. Everyone knows that employers want students that are 'passionate about accounting/retail/marketing' or whatever other bollocks people pretend to be interested in to land jobs at companies that will provide them with financial stability and respectfulness. Because it’s not enough for companies to hire the best candidate for the job. That candidate better have lived his or her whole fucking life with the express purpose of landing that particular job at that particular company.
Wanna be a banker? You better have read The Economist when you were 5. Starting a blog to talk about how much you love financial regulation is an absolute must. Brushing shoulders with the elite in your preferred sector by the time you reach university is also important. And don’t forget joining the finance society at university. Oh and 5 internships, preferably all before the age of 15. And you better have a damn good story as to why you chose ‘OUR’ company over theirs. Please, I applied to your company because there was a reasonably paid job going. Get over yourselves.
You know, I applied to a consulting company a few months ago and they made me do a personality test. A fucking personality test. I mean where is this shit going to end. From a 15 minute test, they managed to deduce that I had trust issues when it came to working with groups of people. Well working on group projects at university does that to you. And relying on fellow editors at a student paper to carry out their responsibilities.
But anyway, enough about the real world. Let's talk about some of the things I've picked up during my time here. I've learned that 2 weeks of last minute vision (not revision) can equate to a year of sustained learning. I've learned that URY eat, sleep and bathe in their branded merchandise. I've learned that size matters; the size of your reference list that is. I've learned that coming up with an entirely new theory of morality in a first year philosophy exam is not actually conducive to getting a good grade.
I've learned that free speech is a sacred institution at this university. That is, if you're not criticizing YUSU, hurting people’s feelings, making statements that challenge the norm or writing jokey articles about how useless Sabbs are. I've learned that the NUS is not as bad as people are saying. It's much worse. I've learned that I'm not nearly as clever as I think I am. I've learned that taking an economics core module by choice is one of the stupidest things I've ever done, and I've done some stupid shit. I've learned that 2 cheese onion with chutney is the objectively the best sandwich in YUSU shop's meal deal and that the brilliant chefs at the courtyard can cook a curry within 8 minutes of an order. Finally, in the infamous words of my macroeconomics lecturer, I've learned that 'in developing models, economists are not concerned with reality.'
Wow. I really have learned a lot at this institution. Definitely worth the 27 grand I (my parents) have paid to keep me at this university. And that doesn’t even include the bonus piece of paper that tells employers that ‘I’m pretty good, K?’
Ok fine. I’m overdoing it. The truth is, dear reader, that these have definitely been the best three years of my life. My assumptions have been challenged, I’ve met some incredible people and I have absolutely loved my degree. I’m gonna miss it. The late night strolls in the Harry Fairhurst, the fine drinking holes around York, the dinners with friends. The fact that there is a place for you somewhere in York, however strange your passions are. Chances are, there’s someone with them too.
What I won’t be missing are the endless stream of emails from my department. Or the highbrow and condescending emails from LinkedIn (I recently unsubscribed). Apparently ‘If you’re boring, you won’t make it in business.’ Well thanks for that insightful comment LinkedIn. Let’s see the hilariously self-indulgent articles you’ve attached this week. What’s this? An article about how a forty something year old millionaire learned important life skills by constructing and painting model train sets? Why I should drop everything and volunteer in a sub-Saharan country to make myself more interesting for employers? Hundreds of articles and not a single one about the value of modesty. Just a bunch of aging and admittedly, extraordinarily wealthy individuals that probably aren’t paying their taxes while lecturing me on business ethics.
And here I am, judging those infinitely more successful than me from behind my computer monitor. I’ve read Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan twice you know. Can’t you see that I have the authority to comment on the socio-economic conditions of our society? But it isn’t really university if you can’t tell the establishment to go fuck itself with a veneer of self-righteousness, is it?
But the curtain is closing. The lights are dimming. Here is some advice from your friendly neighborhood columnist for the last time. Vote to leave the NUS but not the EU. Stop using jokes about ducks as a crutch for social interaction with casual acquaintances. Vision is better than Nouse. Question unsupported statements of fact. Being yourself is overrated and will not get you hired (or a girlfriend for that matter). Don't get a 2:2.
University of York, it’s been a pleasure.