Worst of the web: On the prowl for internships

The fall semester is almost over, and Jordan and I are just months away from graduation. Landing the perfect job or internship seems particularly important at this moment: If we get our paws on the right gig now we could make the big time in no time. Or at least fetch coffee for an important person.

There are lots of opportunities to choose from, but not all of them lead to the “great real-world experience!!!” they winningly promise. Here is a list of the internships and jobs you should avoid.

1. The part time sex-writing gig

I stumbled upon a little gem on Craigslist today: a kind gentleman by the name of James is offering 5 to 7 dollars to writers who can crank out “informative articles on all types of sex toys, including the benefits of using sex toys, the type of sex toys available and why sex toys are useful for solo use and in relationships too.”

5 to 7 whole dollars! And you could see your byline on an internet website! The reasons you should not do this job are fairly obvious. Besides the shitty pay, writing about sex toys might tarnish your reputation as a super-serious journalist. After this editorial debut, will people ever take your earnest book about public housing projects seriously? Probably not.

Photo via

2. The ‘Great Opportunity to Learn and Grow!’

These internship listings usually contain vague descriptions of the company’s beautifully restored offices in Chelsea: “stocked with free coffee and tea and a wonderful, creative staff!”

The listings usually continue something like this: “This internship is unpaid, but it’s not about the money! Interns will grow emotionally and intellectually as they experience the real world of fast-paced office marketing management in the exciting heart of New York City. Ideal candidates should have some experience with Microsoft Word and be a cheerful team player with a minimum 2.0 GPA.”

These offers are ubiquitous and Chelsea is a nice part of town, but let’s face it: You won’t add any skills to your already stellar command of Microsoft Office if you chain yourself to a desk to work for these eternal optimists.

3. The social media internship.

I’m still in awe of the fact that this is a real position at most companies. But there it is – you can pay your college thousands of dollars to get credit for … updating someone else’s Facebook page. Don’t do it!

4. The impossible nanny job.

Caring for an infant in a ritzy Upper East Side loft might seem easy, but some of the ma’s and pa’s looking for childcare on Craigslist are probably legally insane. These neurotic types should be avoided at all costs.

For example, a charming person by the name of Nycnanny2011 is currently trolling the site for a nurturing, college-educated person with at least two years of nanny experience AND a background in childhood development. Oh and this person must be fluent in French as well. I’m not remotely qualified for this position, but if I were, hopefully I would already be employed in a high-powered career far away from Nycnanny2011.

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5. “Organic farming and educating the local people in Kenya (Volunteer in Africa)”

I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that most of us know nothing about organic farming and nothing about Kenya and are completely unqualified to educate the local people in any way. This whole thing is problematic.

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— Arielle

Give your mind to science.

It’s a jungle out there, guys. And sometimes you’ve got to be the guinea pig to survive.

That’s what college senior Amanda DeLuise would tell you. Since sophomore year, she’s been participating in psychology experiments to make money on the side. This year, after long internship hours forced her to give up her paying job, the money she makes from experiments is her only source of income.

It’s not as sketchy as you’d think.

Amanda subscribes to a listserv through the psychology department, and responds to posts that fit with her schedule. Sometimes the experiments are as simple as answering questions on a computer. At a recent gig, the experiment was like a game, where the participants  picked out points on a circle.

“I’ve probably only made like 50 bucks so far [this semester] because I hardly have time to do them. But that’s not bad,” she says. “If I did them every week consistently I’d be making probably like 20 bucks a week. Not bad for doing nothing.”

Of course, she has heard of a few sketchy experiments…

“I know my roommate did one where like, she had to watch all these really disturbing images and it was like monitoring her heart rate or some shit,” she says. “Or there was one where she’d get shocked.”

But Amanda stays clear of those, she says, and so should you!

Meanwhile, the pay is good. She says she’s seen pay days between 5 and 100 dollars, and usually walks away with at least 10 dollars. And the time commitment is minimal, from a few minutes to an hour.

So try it out, and definitely don’t do anything that involves electric shocks. Sounds like a good deal. Think about it: you’ll only need to do about 100 experiments a week to pay off your student debt!

With a little help from my friends

Well it turns out Arielle and I are not the only college seniors wringing our hands about the future.

Recently a number of friends have been talking and writing about life after graduation, and wouldn’t you know it, their thoughts are pretty insightful!

Eli Epstein’s anxieties pretty much run the gamut, from online dating to employment to workplace monotony. He wrote about it in the Washington Square News (link isn’t up yet), and sent us a copy:

At this point I don’t want to enter those dark, murky doors of The Real World, and even if I grudgingly slide in, I wont know what to do once I’m there. I liken it to the great scene from “Heat” (Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino’s only time on screen together before they made some lousy movie a few years ago) where Detective Vincent Hanna (Pacino) and bank robber Neil McCauley (DeNiro) reluctantly, and quite tragically, admit to each other that they just don’t know how to do anything else, nor do they much want to. Neil’s going to continue to take scores; Vincent’s going to continue to track down guys like Neil. Come May, I wont know how to do much else besides be a kid, nor will I much want to. I’m scared folks.

Cynthia Stewart told me that the present only lasts four seconds, and that we should only focus on what we can do now to influence the course of our lives. She also managed to mention Spongebob.

In conclusion, the reason our past cannot help our future anymore is because we are not growing up, we are starting over. We’ve been old kids for a very long time, but now we are baby adults. Still, the future is less stressful if we realize we are already accomplishing it, (i.e. my “future is now” point).

You gave advice in your blog for what to do when you’re freaking out about the future. I recommend the song  “Living in the Sunlight Loving in the Moonlight” by Tiny Tim (if you don’t know it you’ll remember it from Spongebob). I may seem carefree at times and be a yang compared to your yin-ness, but I’m just distracting myself from the same anxiety about the future.

Nicole Robert wrote on her blog about transitioning from childhood to adulthood, covering everything from an encounter at a gas station to her dad’s cross country adventures. Her message was pretty positive, actually, and ended on this hopeful note:

I was explaining to my Dad that I can’t just make something of myself when I’m working under people who are more important than me. And he said “Honey, you are an adult now. Don’t let people treat you like a child just because you are younger than them. You can be friends with someone who is 45 or 50 or 60 years old”.

And he’s 100% right. I shouldn’t let people treat me like a child. I shouldn’t wait for orders. I shouldn’t have to ask permission. I should just go out and fight and GET what I want. And I shouldn’t let people who are older than me get in the way. I shouldn’t be intimidated by them. Because hell, I could be more intelligent than them, but I’ll never know unless I take a shot at getting what I want.

The dream school, the debt school

Today the Village Voice came very close to home with an article about NYU student debt, which is the highest in the country. Is the education really worth all the interest and the headaches?

No. Unless you become a successful filmmaker/actor/creative superstar right after college, writer Nick Pinto suggests.

On the flip side, if you are like the wretched NYU grad Pinto dubs “Lyndsey,” (a subject too paranoid to be identified by her real name), you may become a  blubbering film alum living a “a blurred, twilight existence” between 70-hour work weeks that have nothing to do with the field you studied at NYU.

“It’s pretty murderous,” Lyndsey says. “There’s no time in my day to think, to breathe, to eat, to shop for groceries. Weekends I try to catch up on laundry, get groceries, cook as much as possible, and see my friends if I can.”

Still, the punishing work schedule was better than the alternatives Lyndsey sometimes considered. “I’m basically trying to avoid the more extreme ways of doing it: stripping and prostitution,” she says. “Stuff you can’t tell your parents and your friends about.”

Yikes, stripping and prostitution??

Later Pinto playfully rehashes some of the standard arguments about NYU’s soaring student debt rates: NYU is fundamentally an endowment-poor commuter school trying to buy its way into the big leagues with undergrad tuition. And the starry-eyed 18 year olds who agree to those terms are trying to buy (or borrow) a fast track to the big time as well:  A degree from Manhattan’s most powerful purple monster is supposed to look good on applications for a dream job in the big city. Assuming that dream job exists.

But I think the Village Voice is asking the wrong question.  The answer to whether NYU is worth $350,000 of debt (that’s how much Lyndsey owes after interest) is obviously a resounding UH NOOOOOO girl don’t do it!

But where do we go from here? Lyndsey is already in an enormous amount of debt, and she’s not alone: I have, as I’m sure everyone does, at least one NYU friend who is over his/her head in student loans. Plus, NYU isn’t the only university with bad financial aid: Students go into enormous debts and have trouble paying them back at increasingly unaffordable public schools too. In fact, this year marks the highest overall rates of defaults on student loans in the past decade.

— Arielle

Kids These Days

 The wealth gap between younger and older Americans has stretched to the widest on record, the AP reports.  

The typical U.S. household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35.

Meanwhile, Business Insider reports that young people are happier at their jobs than older people, but are more eager to leave those j0bs.

Maybe it’s that today’s younger workers more commonly want to try out a series of jobs before settling on a single career trajectory, or that older workers have been at it long enough to be bored and jaded.
American youth: poor, happy, restless. What a generation.
— Jordan

An Update on Mortgage Leveraging From My Dad

Well the good news is that at least one of our dads understands and appreciates Plastics. The bad news is that no one really knows what leveraging mortgages means.

How to deal with questions about your future this Thanksgiving

Happy holidays! Congrats on getting through midterms. Yes, they sucked. But look on the bright side: it’s almost time for Thanksgiving break!

Unfortunately, since this is the last Thanksgiving before you graduate from college, the experience is not going to be stress-free. In addition to enjoying great food and perhaps a sporting match, you are also going to have to face questions about your future from your relatives.

Here are some ways to deal with it:

1. Change the topic

photo by Matt McGee

Don’t want to talk about graduation? Get your relative blabbing about something else. Might be a little tricky to throw the question, but it can be done. So for example…

Uncle: So what are you going to do after you graduate?

You: Can you pass the cranberry sauce?

Uncle: Here you go. Now about graduation…

You: Can you also pass the gravy?

Uncle: Sure. Are you thinking about grad school?

You: So I heard you got an ulcer.

Uncle: Oh it’s been horrible…

2. Lie

photo by RMacDowell1

Just lie. Lie through your teeth. Lie until it goes away. You’ll have to get creative, but let’s face it, that’s pretty much all you’re good at anyway. For instance…

Aunt: So are you thinking about your plans after graduating?

You: Biomedical engineer.

Aunt: Oh I didn’t know you were into the sciences…

You: Lawyer.

Aunt: Oh that’s nice. Just like your other cousins. Can you pass the gravy?

photo by rfduck

3. Tell the truth

You can also be honest but I don’t recommend it. This can often lead to further lines of questioning, causing you to doubt yourself, hate your relative, and seriously dampen the holiday spirit. Such as…

Cousin: So what are you thinking about doing after May?

You: To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I’m really trying to focus on all my classes and my other work right now. I think it’s a little far away at this point to be making any plans.

Cousin: Really? Too soon? Wouldn’t you have to start applying to grad school right now?

You: Um…

Cousin: And what kinds of jobs would you be looking at? Journalism? That’s what you studied right?

You: Uhhh…

Cousin: And do you want to stay in New York? Or would you go somewhere else?


— Jordan