On Ateneans, Unemployment, and that Rantbox Thread

Last night, my timeline was alive with my friends’ reactions on a topic I feel strongly about. Atenean graduates and the difficulty they have of getting a job.

For those who need an update, someone posted this into ADMU Rantbox, some anonymous confession site thing. Then a friend posted this status prompting a debate online about entitlement and jobs, with comments and perspectives coming from the Philippines’ startup scene. And somehow, this rant’s opinions on BPOs blew the topic wide open for everyone to comment on.

This topic feels timely and warranted an opinion because,

  1. a) it’s about to be the 5th month since graduation and lots of people are still unemployed
  2. b) the guy who posted this rant is part of the reason why this blog was started.

To help ignorant idiots who buy into the myth of Atenean = good job right out of graduation. To school people that life isn’t easy, but here’s a few ways to make it easier.

I’ll leave my personal opinion on all this at the end of today’s post, but before that, I had trusted friends write their takes on the issue and where do they think the conversation should be steering towards in the middle of this comment storm.

A bit of background on everyone who wrote: all Chinese-Filipino, all upper middle class, all Atenean, all employed. Nothing similar to the OP, and nothing radical like a social justice warrior. No one’s whiny, and they’re not just hard workers, they’re hella smart workers too.

Here are their opinions on this ~Atenean crisis~.

I’m not going to talk about the entitlement issue anymore because a lot has been said about that. I’ll focus more on the “lack of jobs” problem.

I feel like this is an individual concern more than anything else. Colleges don’t necessarily have to spoonfeed you to a job, and there will be people so mediocre and unremarkable that no amount of help can get them a job they think they’re qualified for but aren’t truly. There are a limited number of “nice” jobs out there, and there are hundreds of students all gunning for them. It’s more a fact of life than a problem.

I think the solution lies in reframing the mindsets of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. You can’t comfortably say that you still don’t know what you’re going to do after graduating just because you aren’t a senior yet. It’s important to start thinking about options and prospects outside, as early as you can. The reason you aren’t finding the jobs you want is because there are other people who started earlier, who made preparations beforehand, in the form of interning, competing, applying early, racking up work experience, etc.

This is where an Ateneo initiative like the LSOPCS can come in, or a personal initiative like The Border Collective, and you can drill into these undergraduates the need to start think about these things and not devote all their time to studying and orgs because that has been proven to not work as well anymore.

For those currently stuck without a job, I refuse to believe they can’t find A job. It’s just going to be a job that isn’t among their previous options. It’s really difficult at this point to fix the “problem,” and they’re just going have to swallow their pride and do something they don’t really want to do.

Where you start fresh out of college doesn’t matter, and it’s not a competition with your peers. What matters most is how far you’ve grown since graduating. You can shine, wherever you are, and you aren’t doomed to failure just because you weren’t dealt the best hand in the beginning.

– Gregory Chua, BS MGT 2017

First impression: OP is whiny as all hell.

I think the main problem Ateneans (myself included) have, is that we expect Ateneo to fill the vacuum of job security. And from its track record, the premise holds up. Ateneo does give you an edge. It’s just, is that edge still enough today?

Let’s look at this OP.

Notice how the blame is constantly pushed outward – job fairs, lack of employment options, “unhelpful” friends, lack of network, LSOPCS and Ateneo’s lack of resources. Really?

If after everything Ateneo has put you through and it still hasn’t beat the entitlement out of you after you’ve gone #DownTheHill, that is really your fault. The rigor of our core curriculum in addition to majors, required extra-curricular, org works and other opportunities have is not easy to handle – papers after papers after LTs and simultaneous deadlines of major requirements on top of oral defenses. That should be enough to tell you that the world owes you nothing by working you to exhaustion, and by that logic, nor does Ateneo. You didn’t pay Ateneo to land you a job. You paid Ateneo to develop you – your character, intelligence and grit, through education and everything else it offers.

And Ateneo does this very well.

So, maybe your takeaways from the Hill were just not enough. Maybe you decided not to try hard enough. Maybe you decided not to learn enough. Maybe you decided to rest on your laurels because of grades and cum laude and org officership and all those shiny trinkets. You just weren’t hungry enough, it seems. And it shows, because you’re still searching for employment.

When we come into Ateneo, we’re thrusted into values of magis, cura personalis, men and women for others, doing things mea culpa. It’s a template of excellence that we should and do strive for. It’s an admirable ideal, but it’s a template, first and foremost. Templates are there to get you started. You’re supposed to do more. You’re supposed to do more than more.

And you’re a template student. The poster child of Ateneo excellence, maybe, but that doesn’t translate to your work opportunities, does it? It’s foolish that you expect it to. It’s foolish to expect that you’ll be handsomely rewarded for putting in all that effort. It’s foolish to take solace in the fact that hard work = great returns. You fail to recognize the possibility the primary reason for your unemployment is because you are not hungry enough. Your post sounds a lot like entitlement to me – entitlement that is afforded to you by your privilege. Maybe you should #CheckYoPrivilege.

That same template also does not contain success to just one definition. I’m a SOSS/SOSE major; I haven’t even graduated yet, but before my junior I’ve managed to create several sources of passive income. Maybe you need to re-evaluate your definition of success. You want a great job? That’s good. Health benefits for your parents – I’m happy for them. Capability to put your siblings through school – I really hope they finish. These are your goals and they don’t have to change. All I’m saying, not unlike what everyone else, is that maybe the methodology, which the template again does not account for, you’re attempting to apply to your search is what’s broken.

We have established that the mass-marketed template is highly flawed. This is a hard lesson to learn, especially for Ateneans, because yes, you’re in Ateneo, you’re smart, you can hold your own, and you have a great work ethic. You SHOULD have it easy. I understand that. But you’re still searching. This should tell you something more than being unprepared for the real world. Maybe you should try a different tactic. Acknowledge, again, that having just the template is not enough.

Find a temp job if you can’t be your own boss. Call centers may be a good opportunity for you as they provide good income and rigorously tests your grit and patience. I think you have grit down, but work on everything else. Don’t just bulldoze through interviews and settle with the first thing that sticks. Evaluate your past interviews and isolate the key factors that disabled you from landing the positions. Assess what those factors are, why they didn’t make your case, and finally operationalize the development. Work smart, dude. Use the template as your base, your skeleton, and build on it.

Ateneo taught you better than that, I’m sure.

I do genuinely hope things start looking up for you soon, but I doubt it will unless you step back, pause, take several deep breaths, and exercise introspection. Find friends who are willing to stab you in the front with love. By that I mean, face the hard truths. That worked for me, and I love my friends all the more for it.

Also, stop whining.

All the best.

– Joal Rose Lin, BS I don’t know anymore, I don’t know when she’s graduating either but for sure she makes more money than 4 Atenean graduates combined

For those of you who feel the same as the one in the rant, you can reach out to me and we could talk. No one has to go through this ordeal on their own and The Border Collective is here to help you find your way out of this mess. I’m just a contributor to Justine’s page but we’ve spent time discussing ideas and better ways to help fellow graduates. I’ve learned a lot from her and she’s an expert on helping you put your best foot forward (this is not a paid endorsement hehe) To be clear, I’m neither an EB member of an organization nor a Dean’s Lister, but I feel that I’m in an okay spot. That said, if you do really wish to reach out to me, you’re welcome to do so.

We’ve all been there, seniors.

To the current undergraduates, you’ll get there. Finding a job is hard; finding a job that perfectly fits your wants is a whole different monster altogether. I agree that the salary could be better for fresh graduates, but talking with a lot of people who have been there and done that, they usually tell me it gets better later on.

First jobs are springboards to your next opportunities and it’s what we do there that will define who we become 10 years down the road. I have always made the case that companies can reap rewards from getting fresh graduates. Yes, the job market is tough, as it always has been. I hope to do my fair share of work to alleviate that one day.

I’d like to share what my takeaways are, and what I feel is the best way looking forward in light of this.

  1. Never, ever look down upon anything just because you are an Atenean.I understand that there is a tendency to fall to this temptation; that you deserve better. But I urge you to continue to have a humble outlook on life. Your starting job will not define your career path 10 years down the road.As Justine would place it, our courses in our university are designed to help us beyond the challenge of finding the right job. Whether you are cum laude, EB, both, or not, remember to see the value of the individuals around you. Once you enter the workforce, you will be engaged with brilliant individuals who you are unfamiliar with.As an Atenean, I hope you take pride in your school without looking down upon others. The best and most respected people are those who show empathy in their actions and in words.
  2. Embody the best kind of character and place yourself in the shoes of your employer.If you were the one conducting an interview, what are the qualities you would want in someone joining your team? Getting to the interview stage means you’re qualified on paper. But remember this, you’re entering a company and you are expected to build and foster relationships with the people in it. It is not simply about getting like-minded people, but rather, assessing your fit with the company.Always put your best self forward and always remember to not act as if you will be the boss of everyone. When you do get in and get the job, always remember that you are not the best thing that has happened to the company. Well, not yet; you’ll get there eventually.
  3. Seek to learn at every moment; seize the opportunities that can continually make you better. Build your network, and build your career.This is the harsh truth: we know nothing about building our success at this point in our lives. We may have our ‘why’, but the ‘how’ is still in development. This is why seeking learning is a critical aspect of building your success. In academics, and in org work, you will learn a lot.Hold on dear to the skills you learn from there especially the soft skills such as building relationships and empathy. You can also seek learning from opportunities outside; go on that JTA, study abroad for a summer, or learn something new. Attend talks and take every opportunity to learn. There is something to learn wherever you are; the people you might be looking down upon can do certain things better than you. Learn from them.At the same time, build your connections and take advantage of every chance you get to network with companies, leaders etc. Networking is a skill, and I can share some tips with you in the future. (Justine, possibly an article I can do in the future? Hehe) [J: Noted, pls inform me when you’re free to write again.]

You do not have to be in the most prestigious company to be assured of a life of success. In the same way, coming from the most prestigious universities doesn’t guarantee it either. Remember that there is a 100% chance that you will fail at something in life. Be okay with it, and make failure a part of your success journey. I wish you all the best, future leader, and feel free to reach out to me if there is any way I can help you. 🙂

– Theodore Co, BS MGT 2017

*From here on out, I will refer to OP as this idiot.

I made my initial opinions known in this FB post, but overall I think

a) This was a rant post, like 11 paragraphs of desperation and anger, so being nitpicky about this idiot’s comments is useless because he seems to be on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

b) This is a really common reaction honestly. I’ve been holding a lot of life consultations in the last 2 weeks with batchmates who realized they’re not the hot shit they thought they were, and now they don’t know what to do with their lives.

A lot of people are as deluded as this idiot. That means that this isn’t a one-off problem; this is an actual dilemma a whole group of people are facing. Being fed the lie that Ateneo = good job after graduation is a common experience across the board.

And the people consulting with me aren’t idiots. Almost all of them fit this idiot’s profile: cum laude, org officers, normally good people who are having a nervous breakdown because of unemployment.

c) I think this might be a systemic problem now, and it’s so weird that a lot of people are being judge-y about it? This seems so commonplace to me, that people are struggling with job hunting because it doesn’t have a system, there isn’t a right way to do it but there are a lot of wrong ways. There’s no contextualized advice for the Philippines’ job hunting scene (outside of the blog, but even then, it’s not laid out properly with an outline).

I get it, this idiot was whiny as hell. But he brings up a lot of points that ring true. If you don’t seek an outside opinion from your Ateneo bubble, especially when it comes to what do you do once you’re finished with Ateneo, you’re in for a really hard time. If you’re ‘complacent’, thinking that studying hard + working hard in an org will get you far, then you’re just buying into the myth Ateneans perpetuate. And that’s ok, that’s such a normal occurrence here.

Nobody’s trying to burst that bubble because orgs don’t prioritize having a strong alumni knowledge base. Nobody’s telling current college students, “Hey, I was sec-gen of our org, but it took me 3 months to get a job that didn’t pay 12k. And it wasn’t being sec-gen that sold me to my company.” We’re all just living happily in this bubble. And that’s ok. For now.

But honestly, I pity this idiot. I doubt he wanted to start a debate. He just wanted to rant out his private feelings on a public forum. Which he’s possibly regretting now.

Since this post came out, around 20+ people (both friends and strangers) have privately messaged me asking for help, advice, and my opinion on their future prospects. They’re scared too. This post struck a chord in a lot of people. And everyone criticizing the post, that’s scaring them even further. There’s too much talking and not enough action taking happening.

That’s not a good thing.

I hope somehow someway, this debate leads to reform somewhere.

And if you want to take action (especially for your org) but don’t know how, then my inbox is open. Let’s work something concrete out.

Related: 14.5 Things You Didn’t Know Had Resume Value

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