I awake to a bird chirping musically outside my window. The sun shines through my ajar blinds, causing me to shield my freshly aired eyes. Another beautiful morning! I throw off my blanket and sit at the edge of my bed, attempting to remember what class I have first today. What is it again?… is it Personal Finance? No, I had that already this week. I sigh in relief — I dislike Personal Finance the most of all my Practical Economics classes. But all things considered, it’s a good thing I’m learning it now.
Looking down from my window, across the disheveled yard, I see my friends gathered around the old car. I need to get ready to go! I don’t want to miss my ride. The 45-minute drive is always a pain, but being with friends helps the time pass quickly. I throw on some clothes, grab my backpack, and rush down the stairs. I start walking towards the car, and notice that my friends aren’t dressed at all appropriately for class; they are wearing business casual. I ask them what’s up, and they give me the update: they’re cutting class in order to go looking for jobs, and they really need the car, so I need to walk to school.
I’ve argued with them about this endlessly — I firmly believe that getting a good degree is the most effective way to start off a good career. But they are never convinced. Sporadically they try different strategies, sometimes leaving me to take the bus to school. I think that Friend1 and Friend2 are in the same morning Chemistry class, and they’ve definitely missed more than the 30 allowed absences. So maybe they’ve finally decided to just drop it. Ah, that’s right! This morning I have Psychology. But now that I have to take the bus, I’m definitely not going to make it. Oh well. There’s only around five weeks left in the semester though, so it was probably going to be another exam prep day. I’ll ask Friend3 for their notes when I see them in Interviews.
I didn’t make it to Psychology, but now here I am in Interviews. I managed to get into one of the smaller sections, so there’s only about 500 people enrolled. Today is practice day, so we’ve got a good turnout of something like 300 — including Friend3! I ask them about Psychology this morning, and they give me the link to the professor’s online slides. Looks like the url is from GoodSchool1! That’s great, I’ll probably do well then.
Today’s practice day is for “One-on-One Job Interviews”. I’ve been looking forward to this because I want to look for a better job this summer after I graduate. Right now I’m a dishwasher at Restaurant1, which I just managed to get because they knew I’d be graduating so soon. I wait patiently for 20 minutes as the teaching-assistants finish passing out the instruction sheets to the entire lecture hall. The professor lists the best strategies for a good one-on-one job interview:
- be confident
- bring a copy of your resume, CV, and transcript for reference
- mention you took PFIN 376 - Honors Job Interviews
- list your extracurriculars
- list your best previous job experience
Fortunately the professor is reciting the same material from the instruction sheet, so I can easily reference them during the practice. Now it’s time to start; I decide to be the interviewer first. I ask Friend3 some questions from the instruction sheet, and they answer. Everything goes really well! Then we switch positions and repeat the exercise. We almost got through all 10 questions before the class ended, so we had an especially productive session today.
Now the fun is over though. I hesitantly walk to my next class: Personal Finance. At least I didn’t have to start my day with it. I sit down in the slightly-larger lecture hall with 700 other bustling students. The lecturer today is a visiting financialist, who’s making the rounds to public universities in the state. Maybe this will be something interesting and new. At the very least, it’s delaying our Deductibles exam.
It turns out the financialist’s lecture is on how to use automated tax-filing systems! I’m glad we’re learning something so practical — what a treat! The financialist introduces us to a variety of systems, including TurboTax, Zoho Books, and Credit Karma. Then they explain all the pros and cons of each system, and which is the best for small business owners. Like we could be someday. Finally, they demonstrate how the automated-tax-filing process works, using TurboTax. The lecture is very enlightening, and I feel much more prepared for a new job this summer. I think I’ll use TurboTax. As us students file out of the lecture hall, we are pass out certificates indicating our attendance, as is usual for Personal Finance lectures.
Finally, my last class of the day is Well-roundedness. As everyone knows, there are crucial benefits to a well-rounded liberal arts education. My school is not exclusively liberal arts of course, since students need to gain practical skills for everyday life, but well-roundedness is certainly one of those skills that are eagerly sought after by employers.
The homework due today was to have read the Iliad and Odyssey — central classics of the ancient greek tradition. The professor only gave us the weekend to read both, but of course they didn’t expect us to read it in depth anyway. The point is to get an exposure to a broad curriculum, so we don’t have much time to spend on any one text or subject. We’ve got to be well-rounded! I meet with my conference of 24 students and one teaching assistant, and we discuss the texts. The conference is only an hour and a half long, but it feels much longer. We really cover a lot, even though only a few people contribute. I’m guessing they probably read it before, but that’s fine. I appreciate their descriptions, and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the ancient stories by the end.
It’s been a long day of practical learning, but I still have one last thing to do here at school. I sit in the waiting room for 30 minutes, and then get a chance to knock on the Career Advisor’s door. They say they’ll be available in a few minutes. 20 minutes later, I am invited in.
The advisor conjures up my academic profile on their computer, and skims it for a moment. Then they turn to me and we discuss my prospects. I explain my aspiration to move up from my dishwashing position to be a cashier. My advisor glances back at my profile, and recommends a graduate accounting degree before I attempt applying for something like that. And if I wanted to rise higher than that, I should enroll in an over-graduate business degree while working my cashier job. That’s all very good advice, I realize I obviously didn’t really know what I was getting into. Most of the cashiers I knew have graduate accounting degrees, so I should have guessed. I thank the advisor for their time, leave their office, and tell the next student in the long line that it’s their turn.
After a relaxing bus-ride, I walk up the path to my house and notice the car back in the driveway. My friends must be home already. I meet them sitting in the living room, where they are watching TV and eating popcorn. I pour myself a bowl and ask how the job-search went. No luck, it turns out. They recall how most of the places they talked to had a prerequisite of a university degree. Maybe they’re finally coming over to my side of the argument!
Given their results, they’ve decided to stop searching. They still don’t seem too excited to go to classes, but maybe they’ll get so bored hanging out here that they’ll go anyway. They reason that the worst that could happen is that they get a C in some classes, if they miss most of them, but that’s still passing. I point out that the material is actually pretty useful and is worth learning, and they believe me, but are still not motivated. Well, I’ve tried. At least things will work out for me.