Intellectuals: Beware of zombies

David Soler

Intellectuals have always been an important asset for society. But if nowadays you are one of them, nobody is going to hire you. Nobody! So, the faster you hide this quality (like hiding dust under the kitchen’s carpet), the better.

We are approaching a point where society’s interest revolves increasingly about being a specialist. Combined with the job interview process, these two factors are arguably the single most important key burdens your professional life will have to overcome some day.

Let’s say, if during the big interview day, you manage to successfully present yourself as a single-minded zombie committed to just the single task they want you for – bingo! Your chances to be summarily hired a la Donald Trump are considerable.

But why has having a wide range of qualities or interests become a disadvantage?

Judging from a personal experience, I was once interviewed by two unrelated committees for a doctorate fellowship in science from the Fulbright and La Caixa programs, and both of them, at some point in the interview asked me point blank: “David, what about your piano career?”

“My piano career?” I answered, distressed.

“Yes, we read in your CV that you completed middle level education in piano studies.”

Are you grasping what I’m talking about? It’s frustrating having to see how society’s mechanical ratchets try to exploit a side of your life you previously thought advantageous, against you. The rationale beyond this, is that money doesn’t like distractions and potential “intellectual” interferences when investing in you.

Come on, if they are going to pay you the big bucks for completing, let’s say, an M.D., they want you to be a physician, not an “American Idol” star as well.

Sadly, while following that doctrine, they are also pigeonholing other remarkable cases. Of course, they don’t want you to become a Harvard-physician-turned-writer Michael Crichton, a clerk-turned-genius Albert Einstein or a phone-operator-turned-movie-director Pedro Almodovar. After all, who cares about these exceptions? They are precisely that, exceptions, right? That isn’t going to happen to you and me, right?

Universities also like to brag about their students mastering a wide range of aptitudes. But (and this “but” holds rejection proprieties) be careful, because if you show them off too much on the application form or in the interview day, again, your chances for admission can jump off the deck faster than passengers on the Titanic did.

The brain’s intellect is difficult to master, and even more difficult to predict its path, but history teaches us both are key for mankind’s advancement and development. Mankind’s intellect could be stalled by the status quo of the job-seeking system.

David Soler is a biomedical sciences graduate and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].