Mamma mia! Finally hired!

The placement story told through musicals!

You’d think that your pending alumnus status from one of the country’s topmost universities guarantees you a relatively hassle-free job procurement.

Noooooooooooooooooot really.

There are stories of instant success, yes. But sometimes you have to go the whole nine yards and more (like me) before you can finally say that college education has not been wasted on you. This story is pretty droll and probably sad in places, but music makes every thing better.

Cherish musicals for they have a song for every thing life throws at you.

Congratulations! You’ve made it to your final year in one piece! Good job, you! But you’re going to face your biggest and toughest examination – placements. I don’t have to tell you how important it is, not to mention life-changing. You can’t wait to be a tax-paying citizen (you’ll come to detest that three letter word soon enough). It’s exciting, yes, but you’re nervous as well.

Could be!
Who knows?
There’s something due any day,
I will know right away
Soon as it shows!

Could it be? Yes, it could!
Something’s coming, something good
If I can wait!
Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is
But it is
Gonna be great!

– Something’s Coming, West Side Story

And you have to be ready for it. Not only will you be tested on what you’ve been trained for by the curriculum, you need to learn the ropes of making your way around the corporate circuit. Practise that easy smile, a confident manner et al because it takes more than good grades to succeed.

How to — apply for a job
How to — advance from the mailroom
How to — sit down at a desk
How to — dictate memorandums
How to — develop executive style
How to commute
In a three button suit
With that weary executive smile
This book is all that I need
How to — How to — Succeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed

– How To Succeed, How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

You’re either supremely confident that you have it in the bag and that companies will be clamouring to take you on.

The name on everybody’s lips is gonna be
The lady raking in the chips is gonna be

And who in case she doesn’t hang
Can say she started with a bang!
Roxie Hart!

– Roxie, Chicago

Or you’re a nervous wreck who possibly needs to be sedated

Boy, boy, crazy boy!
Stay loose, boy!
Breeze it, buzz it, easy does it
Turn off the juice, boy!
Go man, go!
But not like a yo-yo schoolboy
Just play it cool, boy
Real cool

– Cool, West Side Story

Companies will come, armed to the brim, with lurid promises of hefty pay packages and corporate perks. They’ll set up a neat little Powerpoint presentation for you and tell you how much they’re looking forward to taking you on because you’re simply the best (squeee!)

You better shape up
‘Cause I need a man
And my heart is set on you
You’re the one that I want!

– You’re The One That I Want, Grease

You look at the faces all around you. You recognise no friend, only competitors. And they’re all out for the same thing you want. So you swell with self-importance and a possible disdain for them.

Anything you can be, I can be greater
Sooner or later
I’m greater than you!
(No, you’re not!)
Yes, I am!
(No, you’re not!)
Yes, I am!
(No, you’re not!)
Yes, I am! Yes, I aaaaaaaammmmmmmm!!!

– Anything You Can Do, Annie Get Your Gun

First question in the interview – “Why don’t you tell me something about yourself?”

Open-ended, very open-ended. What do you say? You’re not sure if you’re supposed to launch into what sounds like a voice-recording of your resume or get personal and tell them about how that one time, as a kid, you left the gate open and your dog ran away and as a consequence, you are unfazed by adversities because everything falls short of being as tragic as the loss of a pet. Don’t forget to squeeze in a mention of your hobbies, fancies, fetishes etc.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favourite things

– My Favourite Things, Sound Of Music

You would’ve surely spent at least one summer as an intern. You’ll be asked to elaborate.

Summer lovin’, had me a blast
Summer lovin’, happened so fast
I met a girl, crazy for me
I met a boy, cute as can be
Summer days drifting away
To (aah, aah) those summer nights

– Summer Nights, Grease

Okay, it may not have been serious. But your 6 month long internship sure was. Right?

The Lord above gave man an arm of iron
So he could do his job and never shirk
The Lord above gave man an arm of iron
With a little bit o’luck, with a little bit o’luck
Someone else’ll do the blinkin’ work!
With a little bit, with a little bit,
With a little bit of luck, you’ll never work!

– With A Little Bit O’Luck, My Fair Lady

You’re given a problem to solve. Let’s name it Maria.


I’ll never stop saying Maria!
The most beautiful sound I ever heard

– Maria, West Side Story


How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertigibbet! A will-o’-the-wisp! A clown!

– Maria, Sound Of Music

When you see all the high-paying firms lined up in the beginning, you concoct grandiose plans for your earnings when you land the job.

I want it all!
I want it, want it, want it!
I gotta have my star on the door!
I want the world, nothing less
All the glam and the press!

– I Want It All, High School Musical 3

But as you blow one chance after the other and the subsequent companies offer you only half of what you expected, your plans begin to take on a semblance of humility.

All I want is a room somewhere
Far away from the cold night air
With one enormous chair
Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly?

– Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, My Fair Lady

Doubt begins to creep in. Why are you not able to get a job? What if you’re not cut out for a job? What if you never get a job? Do you even want that sort of a job?

Baby, get moving
Why keep your feeble hopes alive?
What are you proving?
You’ve got the dream but not the drive
If you go for your diploma, you can join a steno pool
Wipe off that angle face and go back to high school

– Beauty School Dropout, Grease

People around you are getting placed. The ones who aren’t probably have plum admits from foreign universities and they’ve managed to delay this sordid ordeal of interviews for two more years. And they couldn’t be happier. Who doesn’t love to travel?

I like to be in America
Okay by me in America
Everything free in America
For a small fee in America

– America, West Side Story

It’s too late for you to apply anywhere. You probably didn’t even write GRE. You figure, why not continue here for two more years. Your alma mater will look after you, won’t it? Surely it owes you that much?

It doesn’t (Shady workings, don’t ask)

You gather the remnants of your dignity and reject their rejection. You were getting too old for the place anyway.

You’ve been saving all those souvenirs
Faded photographs from our foolish years
We made plans but they’re wearing thin
And they won’t work out ’cause I don’t fit in!
I am not the boy next door
I don’t belong like I did before
Nothing ever seems like it used to be
You can have your dreams but you can’t have me
I can’t go back there anymore
‘Cause I’m not the boy next door

– Not The Boy Next Door, The Boy From Oz

Aaaaand the semester’s done. And you’re still unemployed. You realise that you’re no longer under the aegis of your “mighty” university and you have to luck it out in job hunts, just like the rest of the plebeian population. You will receive no support or guidance (unsolicited advice maybe) Understand that you’ll be completely alone. If you weren’t a shoo-in on campus, fat chance you’ll be one off-campus. Things might be better, you surmise. No dirty politics or insider shenanigans. But you have no way of knowing. So you decide to suck it up and be brave. Chin up, little soldier. Winter is coming.

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing
By the rules of someone else’s game
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It’s time to try defying gravity
And you won’t bring me down

– Defying Gravity, Wicked

Job portals don’t seem to be working out so you sound people out for referrals. And you wait for the interview calls. And you wait. And you wait. And you wait…

Mr. Cellophane
Shoulda been my name
Mr. Cellophane
‘Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I’m there

– Mr. Cellophane, Chicago

And you do get a call! And you turn up, all prim and proper, dressed to impressed. And then you realise something.

You ranted about how graduating from a “premier” college did squat for your job prospects, remember? I’ll let you in on a secret – cash in your university’s reputation when away from the university. Because on-campus, you’re no different from the guy next to you. You’re a part of the herd. But off-campus, you bear a brand that’s been carefully constructed over a span of years – a watermark of quality. And recruiters will ooh and aah about that.

Congratulations! You’ve been hired!!!

Hired, mind you, not placed. Because “placed” would imply that the Placement Division had something to do with it. And it didn’t. Don’t take credit away from yourself!

You’re giddy with relief and mostly ecstatic! You’re so happy you’re practically illegible!

Ramma lamma lamma ka dingity ding da dong
Shoo bop shoo wadda wadda yippity boom da boom
Chang chang changity chang shoo bop
Dip da dip da dip do wop da dooby do
Boogy boogy boogy boogy shooby sho wap sho wap
Sha na na na na na na na yippity dip da do

– We Go Together, Grease

Sayonee Ghosh Roy


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