Wednesday, March 24, 2010

summer employment

As spring slowly wraps its way into summer, the young person's thoughts drift from the futility of finding a spring romance into the futility of finding summer employment. Summer jobs were invented to provide a counterbalance to the ego, that is, to humble and humiliate those approaching entrance to the work force.

All summer jobs can be plotted on what has famously come to be known1 as the "CP-Rorschach-Scientificissimo-Stigmatization-Salary-XW2.3 Indicator Matrix", where social standing is plotted on the y-axis, and the promised salary is plotted on the x-axis. An example of said matrix is given below, along with, what is, I assure you, an entirely random sampling of some of the jobs available to the enterprising young person.

Note that social standing is not necessarily related to promised income. There are jobs that provide very low social standing for loads o' money, and vice versa.

A few other things jump out from this Tufte-loved-and-approved scatter plot. Note the existence of jobs that provide almost no salary combined with seriously-impaired social standing. Only complete fools would take said jobs.2

For example, some may see the job title of "Scout Camp Counselor", and get an image of leading an idyllic existence in a blessed wilderness. Others, upon hearing the title, may involuntarily cringe and recall awkward moments of trying to get out of cleaning the latrine, picking a stage name that happened to be a descriptor of having no clothes,3 and crashing one's bike on the commute home, ending up in a hospital, with a week-long concussion.

That is by no means indicative of the history of anyone I know, just another one of those silly random examples I come across from time to time, which may also cause my eyes to twitch.

The tried-and-true baseball fanatic will view the job of Little League Baseball Umpire with warm and fervent ardor. How can one go wrong, watching the sport that one loves? Well, one could know next-to-nothing about baseball, and one could be bamboozled by a neighbor into putting on the mask and pretending to know something, anything about that foreign sport. One could then also be yelled at by parents for not understanding the intricacies of the "Balk" rule, and one could forevermore fear baseball with the timidity of a man just assigned latrine duty.

This graph also introduces the concept of unpaid servitude in the form of the "Internship". The unpaid internship is the biggest racket running in this town. Take a company that produces a positive cash flow. Introduce no small amount of evil. What results is a job description promising "experience" (i.e., slaving away at menial tasks) for nada. Though interns are at the top of the social ladder when they speak about their summer jobs to their colleagues at school, they are the lowest form of grunt in the company to which they are enslaved. If you are an intern: you have been pwned.

Of course, they have the last laugh when it comes to getting a real job, as they'll have some form of 'experience', instead of putting 'bank teller' on their resume, and getting laughed out of financial modeling interviews.

The alternative to this rat race exists in the form of jobs that promise high wages for taking a serious dent in your social standing. I've never done any of these things myself, as they pay too much. You could do door-to-door security or pesticide sales. Nothing wrong with any of that, as long as you're fine not getting a date for a summer, and then hiding your employment history for the rest of your life, and possibly even assuming a new name.

Or, you could take the route advertised by so many of our nation's job boards, and do task X at home, and earn CEO wages. Never mind that you have never met a single person in your life who made their fortune stuffing envelopes at home, or doing marketing for company Y at home, or any other task that is mentioned on the job ad. Please, ignore your finely-tuned sense of the common, and go to the presentation on the 90s-era phone and fax and internet device, where that strange man dances around trying to sell you on how the thing will change the world.4

And good luck finding that job.5

1. That is, I just named it after myself.
2. And even worse fools would publicly admit to having taken said jobs.
3. Don't refer to yourself as 'Buck' around 10 year old kids. Trust me.
4. It didn't.
5. Thanks to Blair for the excellent suggestion for today's topic.


jron said...

How ironic: an umpire book I had published deals not only with How to umpire but employment for teens.

It's win-win in the yard!

For an overview of the ebook, visit

Nathan said...

I know--those random occurences with scouts getting concusions. Morons.