Went to a job fair yesterday at American University– oh, wait, I’m sorry: TheAmerican University. Maybe they’re part of The Ohio State University franchise.

Either way, as far as I could tell from most of the “interviews” I conducted, they might have added the gratuitous “the” because it would be another word that AU students could be reasonably assumed to know how to spell correctly. They were not an impressive bunch. A typical conversation went like this:

Student: So……uh……is this, like, training for teachers?

Us: No, we’re opening an elementary school. Are you interested in teaching?

Student: Hmmmmmm…..I guess that could be interesting.

Us: Right. So will you be certified?

Student: Certified, like, for what?

Other than being pretty well underprepared and inarticulate, the students seemed to not know how to dress for the event. About half had on suits or suit equivalents, and the other half ran the gamut from Styles Section-Tieless to Polo/Docksiders Chic to Neo-Gym Clothes. Apparently sloppy is the new gray. We had one person — a graduate student, no less — who sidled on over in those “big pants” that they kids are so fond of. Another seemed to be cutting through the room on his way back from track practice.

The bigger draws – who really wants to teach, anyway? – were the temporary staffing firm next to us and the CIA, which was giving out little foam stress-release squeezie things shaped like globes. A fitting metaphor for our military might, to be sure: Feeling bad? Join us, and we’ll go take it out on everyone else around the world. The CIA recruiters sort of made me jealous, because, you know, the CIA, but the temporary staffers just made me a little sad. All those 22-year olds in their shiny new suits (or torn jeans, but still, they were in metaphorical new suits) stuttering while handing over their resumes, all for a temp job as an accounting clerk. The staffing firm gave away pencils but nothing designed to relieve stress.

Though the fair ran from 1-5, around 3:00 it became clear to some employers that AU promised pretty slim pickin’s in the employable grown-up department, and so people started packing up to leave. No, just kidding! They abandoned their posts by signs for Enterprise Rent-a-Car and the like and wandered from booth to booth collecting pens, foam crap, and other assorted swag that seemed entirely unlikely to convince someone to work in your office. People seem to respond to, you know, interesting work and money, not necessarily in that order. I tried to tell someone from United Airlines (hiring only flight attendants and ground crew. You need a college degree for…what, exactly?) that she absolutely could not have a free Lighthouse Academies pen, but she thought I was kidding, traded me a pair of wings, and swooped off to get more loot. It is not likely that they will hire me to be a flight attendant.

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