Tag Archives: disillusionment

The graduate’s quandary

9 Jun

It’s that time again. The time for job applications, numerical and verbal tests, presentations, assessment days and interviews. I hate it.

It’s not that I don’t understand the need to demonstrate your capability for the position you’re applying for; it’s more the never-ending hoops you have to jump through to show you’re the right fit for a company, or perhaps the malleable sort so you can eventually become the right fit. It seems determination and resilience are qualities that are valued far more highly than your skillset and whether you would work well in the company you’re applying to.

I’ve come out of assessment days and job interviews feeling like I’ve literally undergone a physical and mental endurance test. I remember an assessment day for a PR job where the organisers had clearly watched far too much of The Apprentice as halfway through the day, they decided it would be a good idea to name those that weren’t quite up to scratch in front of everyone and send them home. I still cringe at the memory.

In my experience, I feel this has spawned two extremes of graduates. Those arrogant, look-at-me types with CVs as long as your arm and an air of self-assurance (or perhaps self-obsession) that follows them like a bad smell. Then you have the disillusioned types, the graduates that have come out of university realising that it’s not entirely feasible to change the world by getting that amazingly cool job working in the Philippines – maybe it’s better to be an accountant instead. After all, there are definite perks – a ‘stable’, professional job… and spreadsheets aren’t that bad.

I think it’s a result of growing up and thinking you can be anything you want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be encouraged to follow your dreams and believe in your abilities but I think a lot of my generation expect it to be handed on a plate and I’m probably no exception. And when it turns out that you might just need to work a little bit to fulfil your dream to become an astronaut, some people get furious, then depressed, and then just try and apply for a graduate scheme.

Which is harder than you might anticipate…

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Ghost World

4 Dec

Every time I watch Ghost World, I am transported straight back to being 17 years old again.  That was around the time I was studying for my A-Levels and to escape from my world of Pure Maths and memorising facts, I’d wander round the local HMV store to browse for something that could take me away from the tedium of my daily life.  During one of these browsing sessions, I came across Ghost World and I’m bloody glad I did as it spoke VOLUMES to me as a cynical, melancholic and precocious adolescent.  And let’s face it, who hasn’t been one of those?!

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The film is actually based on a comic book by Daniel Clowes and this is carried through the film with vivid, almost cartoonish imagery.  The main character, Enid (played by the underrated Thora Birch), is a cynical, pseudo-intellectual teenager and the story follows her and her best friend, Rebecca (played by a baby Scarlett Johannson before she became a Hollywood clone) the summer after they graduate from high school.  Their boredom leads to them playing a cruel trick on the unsuspecting and adorable Seymour, who is played by the amazing Steve Buscemi.  Both eccentric misfits with Seymour openly acknowledging that he ‘can’t relate to 99% of humanity’, their relationship develops into one of genuine affection and Birch and Buscemi play their parts superbly.   Enid’s witticisms and sense of superiority over the rest of society is something familiar to most teenagers, and her increasing confusion as she wrestles with the elusive  question of ‘What’s this all about?’  results in a moving, poignant conclusion.

The sense of apathy and restlessness that pervades the film is key to its beauty, along with its gorgeous cinematography and the soundtrack (which made me start listening to 60’s Bollywood music).  The script is incredibly clever and speaks volumes about how utterly alone and fearful you can feel after school, in a world that values the superficial (demonstrated hilariously by Enid’s caricature of an Art Teacher, who humiliated Enid’s drawings by dismissing them as ‘cartoons’ and praises a tampon in a cup because it contains so many “issues”).