So You Expect A Job?


He was not a day over 35; actually, he looked younger to me; almost childlike. He rattled off everything they had brainwashed him with in the military. Yes, brainwashed.  Do you actually think young men would go into combat if they were not convinced it is fun and glorious?  Really, I do not think we have come all that far from the Romans who would say sometime early in their service “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (“It is sweet and beautiful to die for one’s country”) The hard part comes after the combat.  Maybe some painful wounds, treated by an overextended medical system, but the memorized ideology remains.  The young and impressionable repeat what they have been told so often that they believe it.

“The military teaches self-discipline.  It is a fine preparation for the working world.” Wrong.  It teaches following orders, stamping out individual ideas and initiatives like so many cockroaches who have dared to enter the kitchen.  They could appreciate if you find a faster way to process internal paperwork.  They neither encourage nor reward the kind of initiative that makes entrepreneurs, a pretty good way to rise like cream.

Veterans usually get jobs after they leave the service.” Veterans preference jobs.  Low level jobs.  There are a few programs to push people to the top, but they are more aimed at officers, who already have some education. “When I use my veterans benefits to get more education, I will definitely get a good job.” This is the worst delusion of all. In the general chaos that our society is quickly becoming, with lots of divergent interests, I am hearing too many stories of people with graduate degrees (notably, masters in business administration) going wanting and worrying. I am unaware of any graduate degrees that “assure” jobs. I am unaware of anything in life that “assures” a job. A career, maybe.  I get patients every once in a while who are “jealous” of me because they think I will always have a job, no matter what. I never have either the time or the inclination to explain to them how I reinvent myself once every few years.  I personally think a career you are in for thirty or forty years without changing for the times is the living death. That is me; other people don’t pay a lot of attention to change, so they usually avoid it until it is too late. Or maybe, with many people viewing looking for a job as if it were a career in itself, they aren’t looking very closely at the next step after landing a job, which is keeping or growing with it.

The hallmark of the current economy may not just be instability or slowness.  There are growth things starting to happen, but you can depend on news reporting (does anyone still take the television news seriously?) to be skewed according to the political agenda of the network.

But what about the people, who sometimes land in a community mental health office, who insist they did “everything right” and there is still no job.  Hello depression, low self esteem; especially for the men, who despite a political equality of the sexes, seem to hang their self esteem a lot on a “job.”

Women, less so.  I suppose it is because they have the alternative of becoming a mother of a family.  Few of them use the 21st advantages of family planning until I tell them too.  I do not want to accuse women of being lazy; they may not even think about this consciously, but I have seen a lot of women who tell me about the noble and important nature of family raising, and how they love their children, even while they are complaining of the “cage” of their lives, lack of alternatives.  Alright, so it is possible, consciously or unconsciously, to turf this responsibility to the male.

The responsibility just upped the ante.  I remember when everyone expected and received reports that the college educated earned more, and found them.  Now it is not so evident.  Of course, I did not hear from my patients about colleges that were job skill oriented, taught very specific job related skills like auto body or welding and hitched people up with jobs doing same.

I remember hearing a long time ago that more and more of the University professors were women, especially in fields like Classical Literature and Philosophy.  They were smart, and willing to accept the lower pay grades reserved for academics.

So what must a person, maybe a male and probably even a veteran, do to get a job. The one thing they do not teach you how to do in the military, ask questions.  Question authority with consistency and vigor.  Start from the top down; where do you want to work?  What kind of personnel do they want?  With what qualifications?  What do they expect their needs to be like in a couple of years, when you finish your degree?

I have never had a male, certainly a veteran, act less than surprised when I try to wedge discussion of these matters in between my usual questions about side effects and medication.

Searching for security in an uncertain world, people want to be less. They want to plug into a situation that fits them like a plaster cast fits a fracture, sit back and relax.  They need instead to become more.  More autonomous, realizing jobs never last forever. Maybe re-inventing themselves; at least, realizing that we now live in a world too often built on weak and shifting sand.

The individual can emerge victorious.  It is unlikely corporations or governmental or any kind of public entities will.

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