If you’re a government official, it’s illegal to hire your offspring. But it still happens everyday in this country, and the trend creeps over into Corporate America so don’t think choosing business over politics will mean you get promoted on your merits.
As a young reporter covering my hometown, I learned the Asst. Police Chief also served on the City Council while his daughter served as a secretary in the Mayor’s office. The officer’s brother ran the Parks Department.
In-house, the trends were the same. The bureau chief’s wife ran the front desk. The publisher of that bureau was married to the newspaper chain owner’s daughter. And some other offspring of the owner was given a free pass to a reporting position. Who said nepotism is out of style?
After a recent job interview with a prominent technology news site, I was confident I nailed the copy-editing test, having been armed with the newest edition of The AP Style Book, a dictionary and my brain, which has been mastering the English language in every test I’ve taken and every paper I’ve written. A consummate overachiever, I outperformed my older siblings, graduated 3rd in a class of almost 800 students; bested other high school debaters; excelled in my University language courses, including the dreaded linguistics; completed three college internships, two of which were in Chemical Engineering; moved to the top ranks in my sorority and college newspaper; etc.
In short, I’m a braniac with the gift of gab. The interviewing editor must have thought so; he asked his boss to come by and introduce himself, and the bigger cheese confirmed that the interview, in fact, went well. As it should have, considering I was raised at the same time the home computer was making inroads into our schools and homes. My father was weaning me on technology and Purdue University, while the neighborhood kids were riding their bikes, fighting and building forts.
However, before you congratulate me for being this brilliant prodigal daughter, you should know that I did not get the job. I was nice, presentable, able to work independently, came backed by good work references and yet what did the interviewing editor tell me? “I didn’t look very closely at your test, but if I were to grade it, I’d give it a B.”
Prior to my taking the test, this same man said he didn’t remember how to do what I was being tested on, yet he’d give me a B? I’d like to give him an F for Failure to Communicate the Truth – they already had a friend in mind but to make it appear legal, they allowed me to interview. How gracious of them.
Meanwhile, I read recently in Inc. magazine about college students being awarded funding for starting corporate ventures in war-torn Afghanistan. The women will sew for $3 a day, and their products will be sold here for $60 to $280 a piece.
And who’s going to buy these lovely items? Certainly not the several million unemployed Americans. But wait, we aren’t friends of the Blow Up, Rebuild and Keep workers used to lower standards Administration.
Q Quips: Your parents will tell you to always tell the truth. But to get ahead, you must embellish the truth and develop sudden amnesia with regard to any mistakes you make. In short, you must think with your penis. Or pretend you have one and brush up on the law so they don’t abort you before you even have a chance to be part of their Corporate family.
• Rae Ann Rockhill is a journalist who learned that newspapers are to journalism what soap operas are to acting. Many people start there, but few want to admit it.