As the economic recession continues, many jobless people, myself included, are desperate for a job and are flooding job fairs, open houses, and any opportunity to apply for a job, no matter how miserable that job may be.
I attended the May 19 Idealist.org nonprofit career fair at Roosevelt University. I had attended one of their career fairs several years ago and was expecting a decent job fair with some socially conscious employers.
I was greatly disappointed. The fair was overcrowded. There must have been four times as many people at this fair as there were the one I attended previously. There was hardly room to move from table to table.
The most frustrating part of this supposed 'career fair' was that there were no actual jobs at it. Every table I stopped at was offering unpaid internships.
Well, gee thanks, that helps pay our rents. That helps me when my COBRA insurance runs out in a few months. I'll just tell my landlord that I'll pay him with what I make from my 'unpaid internship.' I'm sure my credit card collector will understand.
Furthermore, what was the Steppenwolf theater doing at this career fair? They are a theater company, not a group committed to social change. They perform plays, they don't organize mass movements.
Two weeks later I attended the 'just in time' career fair at DePaul University. It was open to DePaul students and alumni, but closed to other job seekers. This did not prevent other jobless people from attempting to get in. I felt bad for them, but it made the job fair less crowded, and gave attendees an actual opportunity to speak with employers.
There were actual jobs available at this fair. There were corporate, non-profit, and government tables. While there were a few unpaid internship type deals, there were other tables that were interested in actual employees.
However some of those jobs were scams. For example, Apartment Finders employees hardly qualify as such as it is a commission only pay. So if you are unable to sell enough shitty condemned apartment buildings to dirt poor people who can't afford them, you are not making any money. Plus, if it's commission pay, then your hours are likely to be more than full time, with no benefits and less pay than many part time jobs.
Also, I was curious why the US Army was at the career fair. Many people join the army in the hope that they can one day attend college. Here the US Army was attempting to recruit college graduates! Isn't the point of getting a college degree to avoid having to lose a limb for George Bush's imperialist war in Iraq? It sickens me that military recruiters are allowed any where near our schools.
Then some tables, had no real purpose in being at the job fair other than to advertise themselves. For example, Hilton Hotels and the City of Chicago refused to accept resumes. They would tell job seekers to go apply online.
For those of you who have never filled out an online application for a job, let me fill you in on what you have been missing. It is essentially a way for hiring managers to never have to look a desperate job seeker in the eye. It is a way for them to sleep like a baby in their condo while job seekers struggle to stay out of the gutter. Online applications prevent a candidate with little experience but lots of personality and determination from meeting a live person and making an impresion. Actually, online applications give family, friends and lovers of hiring managers an advantage over all other job candidates. Think about it, if you were corporate sleaze with a business management degree, would you hire some stranger who you have never met, or would you hire the person you have been fucking? With online applications, you never even have to meet the people who you deny the job to.
All of this makes you wonder how much that college degree is worth. In Marc Bousquet's How the University Works the university's true function in a capitalist society is laid bare. It is not about educating the masses, or training intellect workers, or about helping you find a career. The university wants your money. So don't sign up for college thinking that you are going to get a sweet job when you graduate. I can almost garuntee you, that the only thing that awaits you is unpaid internships.
It will continue to be this way, until we organize the working class and fight for a cooperative economy. As long as we buy into the ideological construct of corporate America, we will continue to get the short end of the stick. Which is why we must organize.