Orna Mulcahy: One speech I won’t make at my daughter’s graduation

Lots of job hunting advice out there for graduates but most of it is nonsense

Job-seeking is in the air as we have a graduate in the house and while not wanting to put pressure on her in any way, it would be nice all the same if she could find a job.

Job-seeking is in the air as we have a graduate in the house and while not wanting to put pressure on her in any way, it would be nice all the same if she could find a job.

 

Dear LinkedIn, thank you for updating me on colleagues and friends who have made exciting new connections and for nudging me to endorse them for their myriad skills. Please, though, can you just stop sending me new job suggestions? Sure, things are tough in the media business and, yes, it is nice to know that opportunities abound beyond my crumb-filled keyboard in Tara Street, but, frankly, your suggestions for me are a bit rubbish.

I thought big data companies were supposed to know everything about us (how else to explain the “reduce belly fat ads” that haunt my every online search) but not so, judging by the jobs that you regularly push my way. Thanks for thinking of me but a Dutch-speaking customer relations adviser in Sligo? An account strategist with Google, Swedish speaking? A Spanish market manager for Airbnb? You flatter me LinkedIn. Last month you invited me to become a senior web analyst with Vodafone, a staff nurse in an elderly care facility and a HR officer for a fruit company. G’wan, you said, throw your hat in the ring for an internship with Louis Vuitton. Why not try out for the position of business manager with Charlotte Tilbury? I do have some Charlotte Tilbury face cream and it’s a superior kind of slap, but I promise you, it’s not me they’re after.

Right messages

I appreciate that you want to keep me interested but really now, what are my qualifications for joining EY as a marketing manager? You need to sharpen your services if you want me to remember my password and actually log in to see what else is happening in the vast interconnected sea of career opportunities. Or maybe I’m just not sending out the right messages, because it seems to work for others. A neighbour is off to the Middle East in January on a contract that came out of the blue in a LinkedIn message. He’s particularly pleased that he won’t have to pay a heating bill for three months. A friend – who just a year ago was wallowing in self-doubt having given up her job – was pinged by an international firm and is now on a whooping new salary, thanks again to you, LinkedIn.

Job-seeking is in the air as we have a graduate in the house and while not wanting to put pressure on her in any way, it would be nice all the same if she could find a job. The process is being delayed, as she awaits someone called Jason, who understands CVs, to configure hers in such a way that employers will want her to report for business immediately. In the meantime, her graduation looms and we’re having to clear our diaries. Since when did graduations get so big and fancy? There will be photographs, a lunch, drinks in a city centre hotel and parents are invited to, nay expected to, take part in the full shebang. Walking through Trinity the other day I came upon a young man prancing down the steps of a building in his cap and gown and bit of rabbit fur around his neck. He had to go up and down the steps a few times for the guy videoing him. It all looked very professional as he stepped back and forth with a fixed smile. Bless him, or he’d want to cop on to himself? I wasn’t sure but I tottered into the grass verge to make way.

Plastic earrings

Cue memories of my own graduation, last millennium, on a windy rainy day in Belfield. I wore my mother’s good red dress and some red plastic earrings, of which more later. We may have gone for a bite in the Montrose afterwards but I don’t remember anything else though it’s unlikely there was champagne or speeches. I long to make one at my daughter’s graduation, giving her a torrent advice about what to expect IN LIFE, but then I think of the psychologist acquaintance who scarred me for life at a party by telling me that nobody, particularly none of my children, needs my advice, ever, on anything. But but . . . I listened to advice, all the time. For instance, when I moved to London after graduation, my landlady, a Cork woman, told me that, if I wanted to get on, I would have to get rid of my cheap red earrings. With my first pay packet she made me buy some pearl ones which, she said, would help me fit in.

No one needs that kind of advice now, but there is so much good advice to follow. Even on LinkedIn. For there, swirling around among the jobs and endorsements is Australian comedian Tim Minchin’s Nine Life Lessons – his own address to graduates that’s become a massive YouTube hit. Have a look. It’s brilliant. He tells them not to exhaust themselves with a big, monkey-on-the-back dream but to just get on and do stuff well, day after day. And to define themselves by what they love, rather than hate. “I see it all the time online, people whose idea of being part of a subculture is to hate Coldplay or football or feminists. We have a tendency to define ourselves in opposition to stuff. But try to also express your passion for things you love. Be demonstrative and generous in your praise of those you admire. Send thank-you cards and give standing ovations. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.” I like that advice very much. Just have to find a way to slip it in on graduation day.

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