A few days ago, Astarte ripped apart the classist assertion that poor people do it to themselves (they ascribe to “a culture that eschews education and hard work”… right) in her post The Hurricane of Caring. She said many things in the post, but this one struck a chord with me [emphasis mine]:
Iâ€™ve been working since I was eleven. We werenâ€™t dirt poor, but poor enough that I knew if I ever wanted anything, I was going to have to get it myself. I picked strawberries for $.11 a pound (think about that when you buy a pound of Strawberries next time). I sold office supplies for $5.60 an hour, made pizzas for $4.95 an hour, and made burgers for $5.20 an hourâ€¦ all while going to High School. When I was done there, I took portraits for $6.00 an hour. My first tech job didnâ€™t come as a result of working hard. My first tech job, which landslided into many others, came because I knew someone who knew someone who got me the job.
When I saw that, I thought to myself, “holy fuck, that is so true.” Now, I’m coming from the opposite position of Astarte, I’m one of the lazy rich kids who doesn’t know the true meaning of “hard work”. I’m 23 years old and I’ve never had a real job. Heck, I just graduated University and instead of going into the work force (of course, what I would use my Asian Studies degree for I have no idea), I’ve taken a year off to get my life taken care of before I go off to Japan to do language school (two years of learning the language to become fluent). Instead of the crippling debt that my friends have (well, less crippling for my Canadian friends than for my American ones, but still sizeable), I have money in the bank to use as I see fit. When I decide to start my own company, a dream of mine I have no doubt will be fulfilled, I’ll have the not only the financial support of my family but total access to their social network as well. And if anyone tries to tell you that the social network isn’t important, or isn’t as important as “hard work”, I say from personal experience that they’re lying their asses off or just plain ignorant.
I was talking to my uncle about a month ago about my elder sister who just went to law school. He turned to me and did to me what my dad is smart enough not to: he said I should go. After he listed off his reasons, I laughed at him (in a mostly nice way) and said that his points were valid but I’m just not interested. Apparently, me going to Japan and wanting to work in the video game industry is a waste of my time. Right. He then said that he had a friend in LA who runs an agent firm and that I should go get a job there.
side note: Okay, in what world do I look like the kind of person who would be able to smooze with celebrities? Seriously, I don’t know why he thought it would be a good idea to unleash me, the girl who speaks her mind 99% of the time and fuck the consequences, on a group of people who belong to a culture I consider to be vapid, boring, and part of the problem our society has with the evil -ism’s of all kinds.
Key point: Based on nothing more than a family connection and a hypothetical ability to do the job, I would be able to begin a career with a good salary and a lot of potential for upward movement.
Which brings me to the final straw that sparked this post: today I got a letter from UBC (my alma mater) that was an invitation to join the “Golden Key International Honour Society”. Well, UBC was obviously very excited because they sent me two copies (hopefully on recycled paper, otherwise whole forests of trees will mourn the loss). Somehow I managed to be in the top 15% of my faculty (apparently they don’t count my F from failing calculus, but even so I had a 77.7% average, which is on the top end of a B+ average for you non-Canadians) which qualified me.
I’m all for making my resume look good, but the first thing I noticed was an $80 membership fee. Honour societies already evoke the whole idea of elitist organizations that are primarily about furthering the careers of their wealthy members’ children, but it made me wary to see such an obvious way for discouraging the non-wealthy prospective members from joining. Perhaps I’m being too cynical – $80 may be a large amount of money, but many people may see it as an acceptable trade off for all the services that are available by becoming a member. In addition to the advertised scholarship programs, I did notice that once you became a member there was information on student loan debt reduction. Still, it sounds more like excuses to my ears than anything else.
In the end, I did become a member (I called my dad to talk to him about it, got my sister instead and she said “do it” without hesitation; she’s a member, too). I’m probably a big hypocrite for doing it, but if I have an opportunity to help my chances of getting the job I want in the future than I’m going to take it.