Hundreds of University of Pittsburgh students will officially become graduates after the last week of April. Dressed-up and lively, brimming with knowledge and ambition, these young men and women will walk out into the long-awaited “real world” to enter the workforce as clerks and assistants, as “valued staff members” with titles as vague as they are euphemistic, performing tasks fit for an eighth-grader and which have little to do with their majors or the classes they have taken. They have been preparing for this during their entire college careers; Brian Samster’s fate, however, proved more tragic.
Samster, who majored in Environmental Studies, inadvertently found a job that fits his major to a tee. “It happened at a career fair, so naturally I didn’t expect much,” Samster said. When he learned that the company, Environmental Studies Research Corporation, hired him to study the environment, “I was so depressed. I mean, why can’t I have a happy future like everybody else? I was so pumped to crunch meaningless numbers at a nondescript building for hours on end, hoping that one day, many years later, I would find a job that would justify my college education—but by that point I would’ve obviously forgotten most of what I had learned and would have to relearn in on my own. So this definitely came like a punch in the gut, for real.”
Clutching at the last straw of hope, Samster said he sent a letter to ESRC to clarify whether his getting hired was due to oversight or document error or something equally accidental. Having spent the last week in bed, Samster does not know whether a reply has arrived.