I couldn’t help but notice that the #OccupyJobFair is starting to trend among Ateneans. The first time I saw the hashtag be used by a schoolmate, I ignored it. I didn’t want to get involved and I had no idea that the “campaign” was growing fast. Some even say that the issue had been brought up years ago, but it is only our batch who made such a big fuss about it. Students who are for and against the issue are posting their (very long, I must say) opinions on Facebook, which I guess is one of the reasons why people are starting to take sides.
From the bottom of my heart, I have nothing against the students who have been complaining about the SOM-centrism of the Job Fair in Ateneo because it is so damn true–and this is coming from a SOM-student. Anyone can easily notice that most companies that are present in the week-long event have management-related openings. If we are to divide the space used by the Job Fair into four (assuming that we’re giving all schools equal spaces), then it could be established that job fair is really unfair with the way they’re prioritizing SOM. Most non-SOM students have been raising issues about SOM graduates are getting more exposure and gaining more benefits from this project compared to the rest of the schools. But if you look at the Job Fair in a different perspective and try to see how the logistics and decisions really went, I think the Ateneo Placement Office (APO) had done a pretty good job with the preparations.
In my almost four years of stay in Ateneo, non-SOM students have always raised their concerns regarding the said issue. From SOM-centrism of job fairs to the university’s favoritism towards SOM, there are a lot to talk about. I guess my say on this issue won’t really matter because I am part of SOM and people will definitely think that everything I’ll say is biased. But, when I saw the tweets and notes on Facebook regarding the silent protest, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed so I started typing down my thoughts. A silent protest during the job fair might give the company representatives a wrong impression about the students. I mean, obviously their protest will not only affect the SOM students, but also themselves. I wasn’t there to witness the protest itself, but I saw this picture from The Guidon:
Really? I think (this is just what I think) that companies don’t only hire Ateneans because they are smart and well-trained, but also because of the environment and culture we’ve grown into. We are known to be classy and well-mannered, which are good characteristics for managerial positions. Companies who participated didn’t have a clue what was going on. This whole thing could be misunderstood as something else. Some of them might have heard that the protest was for the APO, which is a bad thing because it is the office that they contact when it comes to hiring fresh graduates. They are visitors, after all. Imagine ruining Ateneo’s reputation because of all these. I hope we settled the issue in our own way, not the UP way (protesting through rallies). I have nothing against UP. I have lots of friends from there and they are all awesome, but I don’t think that their way works with us. This is not how we do it in Ateneo.
Once again, people have jumped to conclusions. Before researching the process behind the selection of companies that participate in the job fair, disgruntled students assumed that everything was just in favor of SOM. I’m not affiliated with the Ateneo Placement Office in any way, but I know some people there because they have helped me prepare myself in looking for job opportunities and presenting myself well in the real world. I don’t think they did it because I’m a SOM student; they did it because it is their job to give Ateneans a more convenient way of searching for the right job for them.
From what I’ve heard, the APO tried their best to contact the biggest companies in every field under the different programs offered by the university to be able to cater to the needs of the students. What the students don’t know is that, despite APO inviting different kinds of companies, it is the big corporations who had the money to afford the limited space in this year’s Job Fair. When this was brought up, students started to complain about the issue of NGOs and small companies not wanting to pay for the slots because they didn’t have the money. In order to address this problem, the APO actually made a rule that only the corporations were required to pay for the slots, while the rest were given for free. Unfortunately, NGOs and small companies still turned down the offer because they couldn’t afford to send staff to the job fair. That was not APO’s fault, was it?
Yes, the job fair is SOM-centered, but the APO isn’t. It is the real world’s fault why there are more companies hiring SOM students, not the APO’s. I think there’s a difference.
I guess because of rage and bias, some students failed to recognize that at least one-fourth of the companies present in the job fair are only interested in IT students. The funny thing about this is that, there are only three courses in Ateneo which are greatly related to IT: MIS, CS, and ECE. I’m a hundred percent sure that students from these three courses don’t make up one-fourth of the whole batch. Why am I not hearing about the IT-centrism of job fair? Since the issue about job fair’s SOM-centrism is pretty old, APO tried to make up from last year. They organized networking events that is open to any student from the Loyola Schools, yet, through attendance, they found out that most of the participants were from SOM. In short, students don’t complain that SOM students are spoon-fed because it is unfair, they complain because they are not spoon-fed like SOM students.
I think we grew up in a sheltered school that’s why we’re reacting towards the issue this way. Whether we like it or not, to a certain extent, the companies that participated during the job fair are already a representation of what we can expect of the real world. Each one of the programs offered in Ateneo are all equal in terms of value to the humanity, yet we all know that some are just more in demand. Don’t take it against the APO or SOM students. It is not their fault that the real world is as harsh as it is. At the end of the day, we’re just all students with no experiences with work yet. I’m sure that we’ll all have a hard time in the future, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a future. We are expected to be resourceful and creative when it comes to this kind of things. Let me remind you: job fair is not the only way to find a job. Yes, it is more accessible and convenient for all of us, but the sad truth is not all of us will be able to get a job from it.
We should always remember that APO is one of the offices that tries to create a good reputation of the school so that Ateneans will find it easier to get hired. This is one benefit that we get and students from other universities don’t get. We should be grateful even just for that. The issue is not anyone’s fault, but the manner of bringing it up was wrong. Like what I said, truth hurts. Not all kinds of job have openings for everyone and you won’t be able to please every company. These facts needed to be accepted by students who have been whining about inequality and other things because I wouldn’t be surprised if next year, the APO decides not to hold a job fair anymore and let the students do the work to make them realize how hard it really is to find an employment opportunity.
Seniors, I think it’s time to grow up.