The second semester of my senior year at the University is officially underway and, like so many other hapless undergrads, I find myself entering the throes of a pre-graduation freak-out. In such dire circumstances, it’s only customary to gnash one’s teeth, wail maniacally at the heavens and place sacrificial offerings at an altar to the hungry job-gods. Human sacrifice was eventually ruled out. Unfortunately, I fear that my efforts to please these deities may prove too little too late, for I have already incurred their wrath through my useless degrees in Political Science and Latin American Studies. Oh, they’re angry, and they’re looking for blood.
Coming from the hyper-anal bastion of east-coast neuroticism known as Boston, I arrived at the University expecting some kind of reprieve from the academic nuttiness that characterized my high school. I mean, come on, this is the Midwest – where people are kinder, more polite and don’t whip out the middle finger because you drive less than 90 miles per hour in the fast lane. But as experience has taught me, this ain’t Michigan, it’s Ann Arbor, a place where tensions are high, future careers are scarce and the pungent aroma of post-college freedom elicits temporary insanity in its graduating seniors. In the months prior to graduation, these poor souls can be seen wandering across the Diag, eyes glazed and hair gone white with grief, pontificating wildly on the worthlessness of their triple majors in English, pottery-making and Jack Daniels-consuming.
Remember that amazing rush of excitement that hit when you realized high school had officially ended and you were about to enter a world rife with sex, alcohol and maybe even some interesting academic endeavors? Well, now you’re leaving that world and entering the real world. And guess what? The real world wants to eat you whole. Your academic indecision and lack of real-world training will soon come to haunt you. Armed with killer credentials and resumes, white-collar ruffians will leave you in the dust. Before you know it, poverty and desperation will leave you fighting for the meager scraps of your over-qualified peers, eagerly chomping down upon whatever morsels they toss you.
Seeing the inevitability of this moment, certain students are engaging in what some would call “preparing” for the “real world.” They butter up their resumes with eloquent life-changing tales from their semester spent abroad. They fine-tune their dreaded law school application and LSAT prep skills in Saturday-night study sessions at the grad library. Hell, some even seem to be attempting to acquire what, according to my calculations, appear to be real jobs, with real salaries and actual work to do.
I, fortunately, will be taking part in none of this aimless buffoonery, choosing instead to prepare for doomsday (the day after graduation) through less traditional means.
The first step, as any properly paranoid graduating senior should know, is an assessment of the situation. Comfortable as you may be now, in the warm, sleepy haze of 9 a.m. economics class, you will not feel so self-assured in five months when hordes of graduated seniors/manic-jobless zombies descend upon the night streets of Ann Arbor.
That’s right, zombies.
After receiving their cute paper diplomas and then realizing their worthlessness, these previously cheery undergraduates will immediately transform into employment-hungry ghouls, lurching around campus in search of blood and positive job qualifications. Underclassmen, especially those with high grade point averages and innocent, beady little eyes, should consider themselves highly vulnerable and act accordingly.
The second and most important phase of my preparation is the development of a high-tech weaponry system and refinement of my zombie-fighting skills. If I hope to truly stand a chance in the vicious anarchy of post-college life, then logic assumes that I must adapt accordingly and learn how to survive with a kill-or-be-killed mentality. My training in this period will include knife throwing, kickboxing and a self-help course on killing a man with a cover letter in six seconds. While acquiring these skills may not eliminate the risk of being defeated at the hands of former classmates converted into drooling, maniacal job-seekers, they will better prepare me for their arrival.
So to all you poor, unenlightened souls, taking in your precious last few months at the University with bittersweet sentimentality, I say go ahead. Gulp down those final, tasteful beers with your merry cohorts at your favorite local drinking establishment. Send off that perfectly worded essay to that law school you’ve always talked about applying to. But when the apocalyptic post-graduation wasteland is laid bare and the undead rise up to consume your soul, don’t come crying to me for help. It’s a vicious world out there – you can bet I’ll be ready for it.
Bielak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.