JobMine is a job board that used by students in the co-op program at the University of Waterloo to find work placements.

I have gone through the JobMine process three times and it’s always the same:

  • Apply to up to 50 jobs
  • Drive yourself mad writing resumes and cover letters
  • Brag about the interviews you got and skip a bunch of classes to attend them.
  • Brag about the awesome work places you’ve applied to and got “rejected” by (even through you didn’t even make it to the interview round)
  • Once rankings come out, your faith is restored in the JobMine glitch (you can figure out which companies ranked you and/or gave you an offer based on the number of active applications and applications left)
  • Celebrate that you were matched with a job in the first round OR complain that you have to go to the continuous round (OR say all the jobs in the first round sucked so the continuous round is desired)

Anyways, all this drama got me thinking how the co-op program is pretty much high school, but with business-casual clothes and CVs. When I say high school, I’m referring to the insecure aspect of it. You know, when people are trying to assert how cool, successful, [insert adjective here] they are. People want to talk to you if you got an interview at a Fortune 500 company. But when you are interviewing or are interested in a smaller or lesser known work place, no one gives a shit. AND BAM! Your self-esteem sinks down to the level of your pre-pubescent self.

A conversation with co-op students becomes a game to out-assert one another.

Person #1: Ermahgerd guys, I have so many interviews this week.
Person #2: Oh cool, I already so many the week before! I had one in my sleep with Microsoft. Sooo intense.
Person #3: Guise, I’ve missed the last class because of mine. Can I borrow anyone’s notes?
Person #1: Oh?! Microsoft had interviews already? Oh well, no one uses Windows anymore.
Person #3: DID ANYONE HEAR ME? I NEED TO BORROW YO NOTES! (I imagine this in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice)
Person #2: Um, I don’t take notes.
Person #1: Me neither, I can spit out thousands of lines of runtime compiled C++ out of my ass with rainbow fairy dust and convert it to Haskell so it’s just one line.
Person #3: Yo fuck you guys.

Yeah, so I’m clearly exaggerating the level of self-absorption in such a conversation. Nonetheless, this type of I need to “out-compete” you attitude is completely present in the co-op program at my school (and elsewhere as I would imagine). This brings me to my next point: there a fine line between being an overachiever and being an asshole. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating great news like getting THE job or ranting about the system. But when you bring other people down along the way (through arrogance), then that is inexcusable. You are just being a poor representation of co-op education as a whole. You are supposed to be sharing experiences, not ruining the experiences of others.

On a more positive note, good luck to everyone (not only co-op students) looking for employment. As a co-op student, you really take for granted how lucky you are to be able to have access to decent employers. People are struggling everyday to find jobs; even people who are a lot more deserving. Remember when you were in high school and adults kept telling you there are so many more great things to look forward to outside of high school? Yeah, it still applies.

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