Lies, lies, lies!

By the

August 30, 2001

As we begin another school year I am forced to reflect on my summer and ask myself the same thing we each ponder as a new year begins and summer draws to a close: “Will this rash ever clear up?” Only time and a certified dermatologist can answer that.

Seriously, I would like to reflect on my last summer vacation. After graduation I will no longer have the luxury of finding work for three months out of the year while devoting the remaining nine months to drinking beer and watching cable television networks owned by Ted Turner.

As I began this summer, jobless as usual, I felt that it was the perfect time to get an internship that made an impact, a job that would catapult me to the top of the stacks in the minds of interviewers this fall when I look for a real job. I wanted something a little more profound than my internship last summer at Takeout Taxi?and by internship I really mean food delivery driver.

After a few weeks of dead-end interviews where I tried to make the photocopying jobs that fill my resume sound responsibility-laden, I decided to use the tactic for success I know best: lying. Before I go into this story, I’d like to quote The Unofficial Guide to Acing the Interview, a book I bought earlier this year: “Never lie in an interview! You will most likely get caught?and even if you aren’t, you’ll have to live with the lie the rest of your career.” I should have flushed the money I used to buy that book down the toilet and saved myself some effort. Clearly, the best way to ace an interview is to pretend you are someone you are not.

Lying will get you everything in life. I lie all the time. I tell girls I like their haircuts even when they look like Carrot Top. I lie to get out of parking tickets. I deny that I went to a New Kids on the Block concert with my mom. I’m good at lying, so why not use it in job interviews?

With my newfound determination to land a job through any means, I went to an interview with a small research institute looking for a marketing intern. I may have exaggerated my marketing experience by a tad at the interview. My majors are economics and history, and I have never taken a business class, let alone a marketing class, but I made it sound as if my whole life had been devoted to nothing but marketing. Hell, the way I marketed myself that day, I could have sold a Burger Madness to Ghandi.

I was hot, I mean left and right I was describing my incredible marketing skills. So finally the boss said to me, “Pat, you sound exceptional, why don’t you tell me about one of your marketing projects so I can see how you work.” I was caught out. I had nothing, so I responded, “It’s really too complicated to explain … why don’t I bring one in for you.” You’re probably thinking this hole that I am digging for myself is getting big, but don’t worry, it’s only the competition that I am burying.

The next day I called up the boss and told him that I was terribly sorry, but that I had thrown out all my old school papers, including my phenomenal marketing projects, but I could bring in the one I used as my final exam when my professor sends it to me in a month. That would be fine he told me and, yes, I was hired.

Many friends scoffed at my situation, claiming that I would be immediately found out and fired in a most humiliating fashion. What they failed to recognize is that my con would go all the way. I displayed confidence in everything I did and was never questioned on my judgment or abilities. Confidence is the secret; it’s more impressive than any set of skills one can possess. I wound up earning the respect of everyone at the company and getting sent to Hong Kong and Singapore for a few weeks in July.

As a student of Georgetown I’d like to think that I am already grossly overqualified for nearly every internship that exists. It’s just amazing how much competition there is for these internships at the big companies where all you really do is make coffee. As proof of the pointlessness of internships I’d like to cite the Sullivan Ratio. The Sullivan Ratio was scientifically derived by my roommate, Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan discovered that at any internship in an office a student will do 15 minutes of real work for every 45 minutes of aimlessly surfing the Internet to find pictures of Mr. T and to discover how whales “do it.”

I once worked for Merrill Lynch. People are impressed when they hear that, but they shouldn’t be. I did data entry nine hours a day. It was possibly the worst job I’ve ever had. I also worked on Capitol Hill. I was pretty much on lock down in the office from 8:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. answering phones. I learned nothing about politics, but I did learn that old people like to call their representatives and complain. I heard complaints ranging from the temperature of the water in their faucets to the extreme speed limits on highways that make it hard for old people to cruise at a cool 20 mph in their Buicks.

The point is, any monkey can do these jobs, so why shouldn’t I be that monkey? Qualifications are so overrated when it comes to internships, so fudging them is really no big deal. Plus, you know you want to find out the real reason they are called humpback whales.

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