May 16th, 2009

New Look

Thoughts of Graduation and Life's Passages

Here we are again, at Commencement time, as my thoughts hearken back to those that walk down The Hill in Lawrence this coming Sunday, as thousands of fellow Jayhawks make the painful transition from student to unemployed, as I did eighteen years ago.

The Pomp and Circumstance, the feeling of getting to walk down that hill with everyone cheering for you as you climb up into Memorial Stadium with your cap and gown and get to walk up on the stage on the football field, was a life experience. I had already known for a long time I was a Jayhawk forever, but that part sealed the deal.

But graduation didn't solve the problem. Just because you had a degree, even a tech degree, didn't mean there were any jobs, as we all struggled to find work in a terrible Bush recession and a recent war. Despite my CS degree, I had to file papers and do data entry in temp jobs just to get by-- and dear friends of mine eked out meager existences working at such wonderful places like Corporate Burger Death and Wal-Mart. But still we hung on, and did our best to stick together. We were the guys that went to all the Jayhawk basketball (and even football) games together, drank at the Free State brewery together, or stayed up all night building Linux servers together. I miss those guys.

Back when I hung around Lawrence, I would go to the graduations of my friends after I graduated, and then the graduations of my friends' younger siblings. Then it got to the point where I didn't know anyone that was still a student any more, and now I try not to think about how the current graduates were in preschool when I graduated!

We all graduated thinking that the courses we learned in college were going to prepare us for real life, but they were scant preparation for much of the real-world rough and tumble of careers, jobs, and life kicking you in the ass. So just for all the recent college graduates out there, here's my Top 12 list of classes that they SHOULD have taught us when we were in college, but didn't.

12. M&A 212 - So your company just got acquired -- what happens next and how to get out before then
11. Office politics 101 - How to talk the talk and play the game in the working world
10. This is not my beautiful life! How to cope with being a working stiff when your friends are still having fun being students
9 . Theater and Film 212 - Intro to the Interview Song and Dance!
8 . Finance 313 - Figuring out how the hell you're supposed to buy a house on your salary
7 . Stunt Driving 212 - How to deal with a nasty commute and jobs in dangerous neighborhoods
6 . Psych 540 - So Your Boss is a Psycho - Coping and psychological mitigation strategies to help you bail before you lose your fricken' mind
5 . Business 635 - How to tell when your workplace is going to hell in a bucket, and when to get out before it implodes
4 . Psych 804 - Introduction to Relationships II - How to not end up sleeping on the couch
3 . So you've been laid off-- How to pack up your crap, get your final paperwork, and reinvent yourself for the next gig so you can keep eating
2 . Directed readings 899 - Coping strategies on How to deal with your mid-life crisis!
1 . Health 405 - Preventing the "post-graduation 20", when you can finally afford food and put on 20+ lbs in your first year out of school!

Congrats to everyone graduating this next month or so, whatever school it may be!