You’re graduating; what’s next?

The troubling realities of finding a job for college graduates are manifested in many clich

Finding a job in the era of the Impossible is Nothing Generation is anything but a simple task. To this generation’s woe, competition is thick, and employers are not as sympathetic as the tee-ball coaches who gave out trophies for finishing in 15th place.

It’s only appropriate that the awareness of this generation was precipitated by a piece of Internet meme on YouTube. In 2006, an intrepid Ivy League student submitted a one and a half page resume, eight page writing sample, cover letter and glamour shot to a large investment bank.

As if these materials didn’t cover enough information about the applicant, he also included a seven-minute video titled “Impossible is Nothing.” Spliced between a staged interview, during which he calls himself a “model for personal development,” are shots of him downhill skiing, ballroom dancing, serving a tennis ball 140 miles per hour, karate chopping seven bricks, and bench pressing 495 pounds.

Forbes Magazine wrote an article about this gentleman titled, “How not to get a job.” Blogs published the student’s threats to take legal action if they didn’t remove links to the video. Michael Cera of “Arrested Development” fame created a parody video called “Impossible is the Opposite of Possible,” which begins with him in a red turtleneck and stripped cardigan explaining to a man fixing his microphone that, “You have to ignore the losers. You have to bring your determination, your A-game, and your drive to the field, and success will follow.”

A tragic end for the Impossible is Nothing torchbearer, yes, but a realistic portrait of just how competitive the job market is today.

Never mind the figures of slow job growth in the United States, or legislative loopholes that encourage employers to outsource jobs to lower-wage countries. Members of this generation have spent the last 25 years of their lives earning advanced degrees to distinguish themselves. In order to ensure that this was time well spent, the focus of the degrees becomes increasingly specialized, and obscure. On one hand, the individual who specializes in hormonal changes after bariatric surgery may explain to family members, “Finding a job is impossible.” While on the other hand, the individual with a background in entero-endocrine changes after gastric bypass in diabetic and nondiabetic patients celebrates their new job at a cocktail party and boasts, “Impossible is nothing.”

In the era of Impossible is Nothing, poetic justice reigns supreme. The New York Times reported last week that, “(Former U.S. Attorney General) Alberto Gonzales, like many others recently unemployed, has discovered how difficult it can be to find a new job Ö Gonzales has been unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster, Washington lawyers and his associates said in recent interviews.”

Gonzales is a bit old to be a member of our generation, but his current struggles are all too familiar. The Gonzales scenario is a perfect example of how dispensable we are in spite of credentials.

The allure of this story for our generation is that Gonzales’ corrupted memory will not be able to manifest itself for some time, which means there’s one more open position for members of our generation to fill – and a city with four law schools can contest that every opening counts. Having J.D. after your surname doesn’t stand out as brightly as it once did.

What was once considered following the crowd, or going through the motions by mindlessly enrolling in college to appease your parents, and then entering the workforce is now extended to postcollege education.

Perhaps if there were more time in the day, we could put up our feet and realize that the daily routine hasn’t changed much since we first stepped foot in a preschool. But in order to stay afloat and competitive, as a member of the Impossible is Nothing Generation, we no longer walk to school with a lunchbox, and make food trades with the guy whose mother gave him more candy bars than fruit. Instead, we eat on the fly and make trades with brokers via cell phones, or sign contracts next to our plates with future partners in business.

The troubling realities of finding a job for college graduates are manifested in many clichés. These are produced in response to that dreadful question, “You’re graduating soon, so what’s next?”

How perfect it would be to provide an honest answer. Something to the effect of, “It’s impossible to find work. U.S. employers cut 80,000 jobs last month, and outsourced the others. Alberto Gonzales can’t even find a job.” But such a response is not possible for this generation.

YouTube has shown us that the man behind the Impossible is Nothing Generation was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously did he answer it. But failure to act on ambition today will result in our generation’s white elephant: unemployment.

Jake Perron welcomes comments at [email protected]