The Fabulous Life of Pandora: Episode 3

Where Arts students go to lose their souls…

I am both sorry and saddened to report that Pandora is experiencing a terrible sort of crisis. I am currently wandering aimlessly through the tangled forest that is my life, feeling uncomfortably unsure about my next move. It is as though I have been standing at a crossroads in my life for some time now and have only just realised the gravity of the situation. The two roads diverged in front of me are dark, uncertain, and lead to destinations unknown. If the Frost reference is at all of use, clichéd as it is, you might find it helpful to imagine that the jungle I am navigating my way through is a distinct shade of sickly yellow.

The History Department gave its Level Two students a talk about the importance of early career planning this week, you see, and I have been left feeling worried and, if I am being truly honest more than a little queasy, at the thought of graduating without a long term plan detailing my future professional life.

I revealed in my first column that I am something of a commitment phobe, and my approach to career planning is pretty similar to the way I negotiate my relationships: I cry, panic, and bury my head in the sand. As an arts student hoping to break into a more creative – and by default more exciting – career path, I realise I need to accumulate a good deal of work experience in a similarly creative and exciting field. Up until this point my chosen field was journalism, and I am pleased to redeem myself slightly with the fact that I have managed to secure a couple of rather nice internships at various media powerhouses in my time. I had not, however, given much thought to the issue of money and just how much I will actually need in order to sustain the kind of lifestyle I aspire to have by the time I turn thirty.

The aforementioned Lecture From Hell began rather cruelly at ten o’clock Friday morning, and I think it is a testament to the sheer force of my will that I managed to resist the usual temptations of the Snooze Button and hauled myself (on time no less!) all the way from the Viaduct to the Education Department. This was nothing short of a miracle, considering my track record of tardiness when it comes to cruelly timetabled lectures, and I felt pretty pleased with myself at being one of the first to arrive. This smugness, however, died a quick and painful death once I realised that this talk actually entailed a rather serious discussion regarding the urgency with which we should now be considering what path we are going to take once we – gulp – graduate next year.

It is not that I haven’t tried to think constructively about my future. As much as it pains me to acknowledge that time is passing faster than ever now, I have at least showed something of an active interest this term by checking out a few of the careers fairs at college and the DSU. To my utter disgust, the prime focus of these events was fixed on the sweaty-palmed, sinister world of accountancy and investment banking. Negotiating my way through a sea of tweed jackets and chinos fresh from the Debating Chambers of Palace Green, I was horrified to discover that the only “proper” option for History graduates is Finance, with a capital “F”.

Having thought that the final destination of the arts student would be something a tad less corporate, I left the DSU feeling shaken and completely disillusioned. It was therefore less than helpful for this same emphasis to be made in the lecture of that fateful Friday morning when I finally lost my soul.

I marched to the nearest computer and, to the horror of my housemates, declared that I had officially Sold Out and was ready to embark on a financially rewarding – but spiritually debilitating – journey and began to fill out an application for a summer internship at Goldman Sachs. I cringed inside at the smiling, soulless faces of the employees posing by the photocopier machine in the photograph on the website. Trying to picture myself as one of them was difficult, but I battled though my inner turmoil and clicked “send”. Screw art and integrity: show me the way to the nearest Citigroup!

After an entire summer spent slaving away behind the greasy counter of an equally greasy fast food “restaurant” for minimum wage, I feel that a more comfortable life of champagne, designer clothing, and exotic holidays is what I really want. It is a shame, though, that I have yet to hear from the delightful people holding the keys to my chosen destiny. Maybe I will end up living the Bohemian dream in a Shoreditch bedsit after all.

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