This isn’t some motivational article that will make you feel better about your degree. That’s not what this is. This is about preparing you for the inevitable interactions you will have from the time you begin interviewing for an entry-level gig all the way through retirement. Much like an unfortunate nickname, your decision to attend Free Base University will follow you throughout your career. You must be prepared.
You’ve probably encountered this scenario in multiple job interviews: “Looks like you graduated from ________ State. Bet that was fun.” *insert failed smile and fake laughter here*
This type of interaction is inevitable.
In a perfect world, you’ve got stellar academic credentials that you can fall back on, but realistically, you probably just need to embrace it. Depending on what type of job you’re interviewing for, you can run with it and use it to your advantage. Recruiter? Embrace it. Accountant? Eh, tone it down. I’m not saying you should come right out and cite your experience teen-wolfing beers with a random girl on your shoulders, but you can say something like, “Ha, yeah. It was definitely a good time. Met some great people down there.” Odds are, the company is not only looking for a qualified person, but it wants someone who’s not going to be awkward at a client meeting. Use that degree from PBR University to your advantage.
Then there’s this one: “Oh, [insert school here]…?” *awkward pause while he nods his head and stares right at you*
Stay calm and resist the urge to suplex this person. Your instinct will be to talk up your alma mater in a desperate attempt to save face. Hold tight. You’re not going to change this elitist fuck’s mind, so there’s no need to state your case. But don’t go scorched earth with it, either. I mean, embrace the greatness of your party school, but don’t meat out on the guy and say something like, “Yeah, I bet I slayed more ass than you.” That’s exactly what he wants you to do, so don’t take the bait.
Instead, I recommend aggressively holding eye contact and just replying, “Yep,” all while nodding your head the exact same way he just did. Obviously, this will place the ball back in his court, and he can either continue this uncomfortable charade (not likely) or he can move on. You’ll encounter this situation in business, at weddings, and even family functions. Watch out for that pompous SOB cousin you’ve met twice in your life who relates everything back to his time at Yale.
Now, here’s my favorite: You’re out at a bar and your group has merged with another group through chance or by design. Being the outgoing, fun-loving, party school type, you try to make some new friends. Up until you’re about thirty-five, where you went to undergrad will come up. It’s the easiest way to break the ice and possibly establish some common ground (prepare to play the name game). Inevitably, however, you’ll become the party school guy, and that means you’ve got a stereotype to live up to. “Oh, he’ll do a shot, he went to __________ University!” Awful. Fuuuuuck. You didn’t want to do shots. That’s going to kill your Saturday, and you had planned on running errands. But that’s part of the deal. From the moment you walked across the stage in Key Bump University’s auditorium, you sealed your fate as a person who’s always down to party. Prepare to be the coworker that everybody expects to be blackout drunk at every happy hour.
Remember, where you went to college doesn’t define you as a person, but it does play a role in how you’re perceived. You can use this to your advantage though, because a lot of people set the bar pretty low for party school alums. People will be surprised that you’re able to function at all after five years of coke-fueled orgies, and if it really bothers you that much, just go blow some money and get into a prestigious grad school or something..