The hunt: free stuff

By Jan Creaser

“Good evening. Earlier this week, Dr. Brain and I ventured into the Jack Simpson Gymnasium for AIESEC’s annual Careers Day. Over 100 companies attended, filling their booths with gimmicks to attract students. As you will see when we roll the clips, thousands of eager beavers were treated to heaps of information on jobs available in the real world. For many soon-to-be-graduates, this is their first opportunity to glimpse what the future holds.”

“As you can see, folks, the Professor and I were waylaid at the door by AIESEC representatives. After accepting our donation of canned lima beans to the Food Bank, we were provided with a bundle of AIESEC documents to peruse. As usual, nobody questioned our identities as students, and once again, we were undercover.”

“We chose an experimental approach this time. As you can see, Dr. Brain is dressed in standard student attire: baggy jeans, T-shirt and sandals, while I am outfitted in a dapper suit that would dazzle in the business world.”

“Cheeky, Professor, the skirt’s a little too short for the business world.”

“That’s all right, Brain. The bottom line is that our choice of clothing made for interesting observations.”

“Exactly, Professor. I had to resort to tag team pilfering to get those free goodies. Folks, if you take a close look at the next clip you’ll see what I mean. The young misfit with me is actually a member of the school newspaper. I took on the role of a prospective graduating student, distracting reps with inane questions. She nicked as much free stuff as she could. Effective, and it proves the theory that students will swarm for anything free.”

“Especially since PriceWaterhouse Coopers was giving away Kraft Dinner. Brings back memories of grad school, doesn’t it Brain? It’s been a while since I’ve had the gritty feel of faux cheese and white-flour pasta between my teeth.”

“Yeah, and you know what, Professor? I don’t miss it.”

“No, no. It’s hard to miss, but I saw the gleam of happiness in many students’ eyes when they got their hands on that one free meal.”

“Touché, Professor.”

“Anyway, moving along. As you can see in many of the shots, I was welcomed and provided with copious information on just about every company there. My little plastic bag was overloaded and all I had to do was ask the magic question, ‘What kind of opportunities are available with your company?’ It was especially helpful when I threw in a false field of study that corresponded to that particular business.”

“Disgusting displays of judgment, don’t you think, Professor? I told one guy I was an honours student in petroleum engineering and he was still reluctant to give me any help.”

“Well, Brain, if it makes you feel any better, not all of the companies were forthcoming just because I was dressed nicely. In fact, the Calgary Police Service sneered at me, I think.”

“They liked me. Cynical, those guys.”

“Yes, well, I’m not surprised they liked you then. Still, at some booths it was like pulling teeth trying to get information. Some didn’t even point at their pamphlets to indicate where the information was. Not very polite, but I think I have an answer. Roll audio.”

Female voice 1: “None of these kids care about the merits of the company anymore! All they want to know is how much money they’ll be making!”

Female voice 2: “I know, disgusting. I heard that question so many times I wanted to throttle the next person who asked it.”

“So, as you can see, Brain, obviously the stress of answering stupid, repeated questions all day got to the company representatives. But more importantly, it poses an interesting question. Are universities producing well-rounded, open-minded, conscientious individuals or have they become job factories for spoiled money-grubbers?”

“Harsh, Professor. I think we need to dig deeper into society for that one and take a look at what it’s telling these kids about university. If all they’ve ever heard is that you need to be educated to make money, that will be the most important thing on their agenda. It’s sad, but idealism seems to have been put on the back-burner because of the rising cost of education and of life in general.”

“I know, Brain. The idealism now seems directly related to starting salaries. Now, I’m not slamming business, just the idea that wealth and happiness reside only in money. It was different when we were in school, wasn’t it, Brain?”

“A little, but we were on the cusp of the education boom-when a degree in anything could get you a decent job so you could enjoy expanding your mind in a field you loved. Times have changed. Still, you got lots of free stuff.”

“Well, so did you and your little scamp.”

“Yes, but I gave it all to her for her diligence and effort. She needed the kd more than I did. She is Fine Arts major.”

“Well done, Brain. We’re about out of time for this episode. I think we’ve raised some thought-provoking ideas about society’s view of post-secondary education and its impact on students. Please join us on future journeys as we explore this serious issues and others. Oh, Doctor, I got you something.”

Professor Allgood produces a squishy foam brain embossed with a corporate logo.

“Professor, what a brilliant souvenir!”

“I thought you’d like that. Good night, folks.”

“Good night.”

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