Essential skills hot topic for summer job

Admit it, we all came to the University to improve our life prospects. Having some sort of income is a crucial component to our happiness whether we like it or not. That said, we all know how important our summer job experiences are to our future success. Having had jobs ranging from client advocate, knife salesman and paper ripper, I feel I can speak on this subject with authority.
At this point, most people would go on and on about choosing the right jobs and filling your resume with specific skills, demonstrating your good work ethic, building your portfolio, blah, blah, blah. I won’t because it’s not true. Think about it. Everyone in your major will have a similar degree, a similar internship experience and a similar history of two-bit jobs by graduation.
The real key to a successful, stable career hinges on your personality. The ability to force others to react to you so you can get your way in terms of workplace dynamics, co-worker relations and sucking up to the boss without being sickeningly obvious is your ticket to career stability. Become the insufferable co-worker you currently despise.
Fortunately, there is no better place to practice being an overbearing, weasely, conniving, duplicitous horse’s ass than at your next summer job that means nothing to you besides beer money. It’s fun, and easy, but there are several components:
Act superior. Remember, you are too good for this crummy job. They don’t pay you enough to try hard and you don’t belong there with all the other low-class grunts.
Know your job description … Follow the responsibilities to the letter. Never do more, never do less. Just because you are capable of completing a task — and it really needs to get done — doesn’t mean you should actually do it. Taking the initiative this way does not always translate into a raise, but will certainly increase the amount of work and responsibility your boss expects from you in the future.
… But do it reluctantly. Moping about the tasks you were hired to do lets everyone know exactly how hard you are working. If you are a file clerk, whenever someone (other than the boss) asks you to file something, say “I suppose,” in a defeated tone, and act as if this is a huge annoyance and/or a big favor.
Have a short fuse. Demonstrate this early and often. If anything ever goes wrong, let’s say the copier jams up, act really pissed off and throw a fit. This makes those scoundrels you work with think twice about doing anything that may aggravate you. When done properly, given the choice of talking to you or doing extra work, i.e., your job, co-workers will frequently choose the latter.
Always be sarcastic. Make fun of anything and everything, especially your co-workers. In private, discover their personal soft spots. In public, pummel away. But stick to the facts and announce that “it’s just a joke.” Use a funny tone of voice and say innocuous stuff like “How was your date last night, Julie?” The best jokes enrage and embarrass a specific person, but elicit widespread laughter, including nervous laughs from those afraid to speak out against you for fear they’ll be next.
Drag others down to your level. Whether you enjoy inappropriate sexual innuendo, harassing others, taking long lunches or abusing the expense account, getting a few preferably popular, upstanding co-workers to partake in the offending behavior, even mildly, gives you license to take it too far. If it is part of the office culture, you cannot be held responsible, and they can’t fire everyone.
Once you make these behaviors the core of your personality, you’ll have free reign over your workplace. Co-workers will hate you, but will be forced to fake tolerance because they were stupid enough to give you the benefit of the doubt and keep their mouths shut when they first encountered your loutish behavior. Your boss will view you as an integral part of the office culture or an incredible pain in the neck, but nothing will happen to you even if it’s the latter.
So how does this actually help procure a career track job? Aren’t employers looking for “team players” who work and play well with others?
Most certainly. But interviewers will invariably ask you to discuss a time that you had trouble with a co-worker, and how you handled it. The other interviewees will proceed to describe you as the incomprehensible jerk that frustrated and annoyed them to no end and how management did nothing about it.
You, on the other hand, cannot even think of a single incident of conflict. You are a shining example of a “team player.”
Have a great summer!

Ed Day is a graduate student in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and a Daily editorial production designer.