For this post, we can thank Mammalingo for the inspiration. She is the master at finding insight and wisdom in the quotidian aspects of life. Last week, she reminded us what is best about this time of year: Graduation speeches.
So naturally, I have been thinking about what I would say to the graduating class of 2012. While it’s unlikely that the University of Chicago is going to be scrambling for a speaker in the next few weeks, you never know. I want to be prepared, because what happens if Jenny McCarthy gets tied up doing her autism outreach work and bails on her speech? Maybe they will try to get Cindy Crawford’s mom from Dekalb, Illinois to come and tell everyone how to parlay a mole on your cheek into a modeling fortune. Or maybe they will call me.
So, here’s my speech.
I am going to tell it to you straight. You are probably not going to get a job any time soon. I am not an economist, nor do I read the magazine (or is it a newspaper?) by the same name. But I do read headlines on my Yahoo page, and it doesn’t look good for you, dear Millennials. I don’t know what to say about that, except, with all of your free time maybe you could write a letter of disapproval to Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan. It can’t hurt to practice writing a professional letter, and he’s a perfectly decent object of rage.
When you are sitting in your old bedroom at your parents’ house, surrounded by your homecoming mum from 2007 and wondering what will become of you, it’s going to be important to do something productive with your time. Do yourself a favor: stay off Pinterest. If you do nothing else with the next six years of your life, please just do not spend your time lusting after your friends’ pins, which depict beautiful houses and flawless stiletto heels and glorious vacation destinations. When you stare at Pinterest images of mono-chromatic kitchens and floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and then look around your parents’ outdated kitchen and your mom’s collection of praying monk statues, you are going to be depressed. Maybe suicidal. And you probably won’t be going on a faboo vacation for a decade or more, so why torture yourself with idealized images of Bora Bora or remote temples in Vietnam? Step away from the Pinterest and follow your doctor’s prescription for your antidepressants.
But, what should you do with your time until you land that cushy free internship with your dad’s best friend who runs a paper packaging plant that is best known for OSHA violations and severed limbs?
Surely each of you knows families with young children, right? Maybe your neighbors or your siblings or your favorite librarian has some small children who still need adult supervision. Why don’t you hone your babysitting skills? Make yourself useful. If you can’t think of anyone you know that has children, go to your nearest park and befriend some parents who look really tired. Tell them you are a college graduate and are looking for some experience babysitting. If you are really bored take a CPR class at your local CPR class provider. Learn to change a diaper. Educate yourself on the importance of BPA-free products and organic baby food. You have nothing but time and parents with small children may be willing to pay you for it. You should know that the going rate is about $6.00 (fn1) per hour (regardless of the number of children), and you might enjoy it so much that you could offer to do it for free.
You will have plenty of time to get a “real job,” and then have your own children, at which point, you too will be scrambling around to find someone else to take care of them
all the time on occasion. Until then, try to shake off that image that you are all a bunch of entitled D-bags by babysitting the children of Generation X. Make Tom Brokow regret that he didn’t save The Greatest Generation title for his book about you.
fn 1: Of course babysitters charge exponentially more than this, but if graduates don’t do their research to learn the true market rate, they don’t deserve to earn it. Just saying.