Like many other MIT students, I’m looking for real work experience, because, let’s be realistic here, my undergrad degree in media studies isn’t going to put me at a competitive advantage in today’s world. So, when I heard about the MasterCard internship I was intrigued to say the least. Until I realized what I had to do to apply and how the selection process was going to work.
The application process requires you to come up with an idea for a cashless future (which is impossible, but that’s a whole different topic). After that you share your idea with MasterCard through LinkedIn along with a copy of your resumé. Sounds pretty normal, right? Wrong. Before you submit your idea and resumé you are encouraged to share said idea throughout your social platforms. Why? Because, “The more likes and retweets you get, the better your chances of getting noticed. Don’t forget to use the #InternsWanted hashtag so we can find you.” Oh, and don’t forget to follow MasterCard on Twitter, because if you are selected for an interview, you’ll be notified via direct message on April 15th. Wait a minute, this sounds a lot like a classic social media contest… Should I submit my Klout score, too?
“You want some advice? Impress someone.
Pick up the phone and put yourself out there.”
For those of you unfamiliar with MasterCard’s #InternsWanted campaign, it is a ‘social interview’ that’s in it’s third year. It’s called a ‘social interview’ because it’s not a job search; it’s a popularity contest. Seriously, it’s a fucking contest. Check it out.
What’s wrong with this, you ask? Everything! I would expect that you, my fellow MIT colleagues, would be able to see how idiotic this ‘job search’ really is. We learn about this shit every day. It’s drilled into our brains from professors like Alison Hearn, Matt Stahl, Warren Steele, and Jonathan Burston—the world is out to fuck us, yet all those who applied to this job seem to have the wool pulled over their eyes.
Don’t you see what kind of threat this poses to the job industry? Can’t you see that it’s behaviour like this that is naturalizing the competitive nature in today’s job market? Your likely response: “But the job industry has always been like this.” No it hasn’t. What you mean to say is, “The job industry has always been competitive,” but it’s usually a competition based on relative skills, not because Steve is more popular than Dylan.
To really examine how awful this process is, let’s go back in time, like, 4 or 5 years when you were getting your first job. Maybe you were applying to work at Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s. You had no experience. This was the first time you put yourself out there. The first time you really took a leap of faith. The first time you were really vulnerable. Now imagine your surprise if you were to hand in a resume and hear the manager say, “Okay great. Now just go home, ‘like’ us on Facebook, share your job application, and whomever get’s the most ‘likes’ gets the job. Hope you’re popular!” You would be pretty bummed out to say the least.
The best part about this whole thing, though, was when our beloved faculty, who teaches us to be cautious of how terrible society is, sent out an email encouraging all of us to apply! Fuck yeah, MIT! It’s a depressing corner of our curriculum, because, what MIT is really saying is, “Hey, we’re gonna teach you to be ‘anti-establishment,’ but at the end of the day, if you want a job, you better man up and compete like everybody else.” MasterCard’s ‘social interview,’ #InternsWanted, social media campaign is the fucking antithesis of MIT.
“I would expect that you, my fellow MIT colleagues, would be able to see how idiotic this job search really is.”
Am I applying for this MasterCard internship? Absolutely not. Over 350 people have applied for this job. There are 5 positions. If this social media contest isn’t the most effective way to sift through that many resumes, then I don’t know what is. Bonne chance to all those who applied, though. God knows you probably need it.
You want some advice? Impress someone. Pick up the phone (funny how that’s impressive these days) and put yourself out there. Yes, today’s job market is extremely competitive, and yes, it’s more who you know than what you know, but it’s a double-edged sword, my friend. If you have a skill and you do it well, someone will one day be like, “Woah, you’re pretty good, eh?” But then again, you need to know someone who’s actually going to say that, and chances are it’s not going to be the person you’re sucking corporate dick for over the summer at your unpaid internship.
Say, for example, you’re a whiz at designing websites and you find a website that’s poorly designed, has a lot of bugs, and generally sucks. Send them an email, tell them why their site sucks, explain your qualifications, and tell them why they should hire you and fire the other guy. Just because there’s a goalie in the net doesn’t mean you can’t score. No business is going to be pissed because you called them out on their professionalism. Remember, they’re most interested in their public image and how they spend their money, and if they’re wasting money paying some lazy dude, you should jump on the opportunity.
With the economy in such rough shape the job market is fierce. Competing for a job can be acceptable, but not in the way that MasterCard—and many other institutions—present it. A social competition? I always hated reality television. Can we change it? Probably not. So do we just accept this new social competitive job model? Hell no. I urge you to do whatever it takes to get someone to notice your skills or talent. Don’t get me wrong, you can learn a lot of useful things from an internship, most importantly real life job experience, but just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you can’t amount to more. If you see an opportunity, take it. Introduce yourself to everyone, act the part for whatever job you want, because at the end of the day, if you know the right people, it could make the difference between an unpaid internship and a salary with benefits.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this ‘social interview’ is the way of the future, to weed out the candidates with weak social skills. What do I know—I’m just some asshole in second-year MIT who wears a Hawaiian shirt all year long. I could probably talk some more shit about you, MIT, MasterCard, or society in general, but my quesadillas are getting cold.