When did educational institutions find that they must look at and guide their students intimately from the time they enroll to the time they are about to graduate? Five years have passed when I transferred to La Salle. Everything from their culture to the curriculum shocked me. Freshmen were automatically enlisted to the “introductory load” of subjects, and one of those subjects was very peculiar, at least for me. It was supposed to function as an introduction, not only to the school’s system, but also to non-tangible aspects of it like culture and activities; the very ethos of the school. Now I’m in my final term, and since it is a requirement for graduating students, I enlisted to the “closing” course.

These introductory and closing courses require students to partake in three different talks, exhibitions, events around the campus. Complete them all, you’re clear of the subject.

At the first activity I attended, I was not expecting that our speaker for that webinar was a salaryman-turned-ordained priest. Here was a man who had a cavalcade of twists and turns, problems and travesties that mired his career after graduation, and there was his audience who had not even an iota of what they would do post-graduation. That’s what I’d say a perfect combination.

“Lasallian Spirituality in the Workplace” the activity was entitled. It soon surfaced that the priest was just as confused as we were about what to do and prioritize once we are granted enormous freedom after graduation. He detailed what he used to do; coupled it with questions that made his audience think what mattered for them and what they would want to do that would not only benefit themselves but the society as well. After a solid group picture, the webinar ended and we went our ways.

“Graduates’ survival guide for a winning career” was the second webinar I signed up for. The speaker was so eloquent; her way of speaking, her lighting, her internet connection, and the best of all, her commitment to answering the questions the participants laid in front of her. She discussed key details about an effective resume; what to answer to an interview question; and how to gain confidence before an interview.

The priest made me further believed that having a one-track path to success is boring. Although I believe that taking opportunities once they appear is important, more often than not, these same opportunities present a path that is largely different from what we believe we should take. A practice of vigilance is necessary here, because some opportunities disguise themselves as threats. After the priest detailed what sort of jobs he had done, he ended with his ordination, and although it took him time, resources, and years of wasted energy, he still managed to show a smile after all those years of contending with life. I believe that that experience made him happier, and wiser. I also recognize that not all people can spend such resources due to economic restraints and as a result end up underemployed, if not totally unemployed, and I believe that why we discuss work and what it means to people also includes those marginalized by the system and what the society should collectively do to solve the unequal access to opportunities.

Another contemplation of mine is what sort of forces and when did these forces change the nature of the job interview throughout the course of history to make it seem like more of a test rather than just a plain, old, “getting-to-know-someone-who-might-work-for-me” conversation. It seems like there is this proclivity among employers to make the interview a right-or-wrong test rather than just a conversational piece. Gravity is given to the answers of that applicant who at least managed to get the correct answer in the question “Why should we not hire you?” rather than giving it to “What can you do or what sort of things do you specialize on?”. I do think that if this phenomenon is to be properly labeled and discussed among the public, then part of the anxiety that applicants normally experience might disappear. A friend of mine brought up this point when we were talking over beers. He has been stuck with his first job and has been planning on applying to a better one. One thing making the transferal hard is his anxiety of the interview. I recognize that people can just as easily dismiss my friend’s problems as just a lack of skill, but I’ve known him as a lucid, confident public speaker. One just cannot help thinking that there might be some other sort of factors among employers at play here.

Anyway, although I have registered for the third webinar, the notice for it in the portal disappeared and the registrants are in a doldrum right now. I conclude by saying that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry because of so many people trying to prescribe their brand of “what-to-do” or what kind of wellness one should foster in one’s life. Frankly speaking, although I am thankful for these persons, they offer more confusion as to what I should put first before the other. So many processes for the life we are about to live, not figure out.