Senior combats rampant ageism in shrinking job market

Pictured above is the CEO of Google. Damn Boomers. Courtesy of Flickr..

As the CDO reminds us incessantly, graduating from college means finding The Hottest Job in your career field. Seniors must buckle down, search for their dream job and settle for nothing less—because at this point if you aren’t completely and undeniably sure about what you want in your life, what have you even been doing this whole time? Having fun? Making room for growth and change? All entirely useless without a job that will make your friends, family and enemies say, “Wow, good for them.”

Emma Auguste ’20, a double major in Econ and Theater, has been doing just that.

“I started my job search my senior year of high school. As soon as I got into Vassar, I started looking into opportunities I could pursue once I finished college. You can never be prepared too far in advance,” Auguste said.

In spite of this ruthless, go-getter attitude that will surely take her far in any career, most jobs simply do not accept applications four years in advance. Auguste had to be patient and wait until her senior year to start applying to the jobs she had carefully mapped out four years prior.

“In my ideal world, I’d run my own theater company. But running your own theater company takes time to build, so I figured I’d start small by running someone else’s,” August explained.

But what Auguste found when sending out applications, however, shook her to her core.

“I knew the economy would be a factor in finding opportunities, but I didn’t realize how intense the demand for young people in these roles is,” Auguste said. “I thought it would work in my favor because I’m 22 but I just didn’t understand how young ‘young’ is. I mean, every major theater company is run by someone 16 or younger.”

In her job research, Auguste consistently came up against the wall of companies looking for faster, younger, more productive employees and leaders. At the advanced age of 22, everyone hiring assumed she could no longer keep up.

“I guess it’s a good press angle to have someone young and edgy run your company. People are more impressed by successful young people than successful adults or something. I got laughed out of one interview for still using TikTok. I thought TikTok was cool,” Auguste shared.

Auguste, unable to find fruitful employment as the director of a theater company due to our society’s fetishization of youth, turned to her fallback plans: lead soprano for world famous opera houses and venture capital firm partner.

“I thought I’d be a shoo-in for my audition for the Met because I was up against a four-year-old. But I guess we value being a toddler YouTube sensation over training and capability. And I had a seven-year-old offer me a VC internship working as his assistant for the summer,” Auguste said, “but he asked if he could ‘level with me’ then went on to say that once they hired someone full time for that position, it’ll probably be his friend’s little brother. I guess he’s the tallest kid in his grade and that makes him a more desirable candidate for some reason.”

Auguste continued, “I wouldn’t want to work for that VC firm anyways. It’s literally a boys’ club over there.”

Auguste isn’t the only senior who’s noticed our society’s youth culture going to this extreme. Alyssa Nimm ’20 recently applied for grad school programs in climate research but got rejected from every program.

“I found out all the spots in Cornell’s program got filled by people under the age of 18. One of them figured out how to solve differential equations when she was eight. I guess if I’d spent less time arguing with my friends about Tamagotchi and feeling bad for not owning any gaucho pants when I was eight I’d be in grad school right now,” said Nimm.

One senior applied for a small business loan only to be told the bank only considered applications from enterprising Girl Scout troops and middle school-aged software engineers.

“We always have a lot to learn from the next generation,” the senior commented, “and I guess it’s more important for them
to start schooling us than for them to have a childhood.” Following her rejections, Auguste has made plans to return to her parents’ house. She’s swallowed her pride and taken a job working for her younger sister’s tech start up.

“It’s not what I want to do long term,” Auguste said, “but I’m grateful she had room for a full-time employee and at this point I’ll take whatever I can get.”

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