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Breaking Down A Columnist’s Terrible Advice About Why Taking A Poetry Class Is Helpful In The Job Market

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Pictured: A slam poet reciting an angry poem about why she can’t find a job because she took too many poetry classes in college.

From USA Today College:

You are sitting with your academic adviser planning out your classes for senior year. She tells you that in addition to your required courses, you still have one more elective to take.

You then ask, “What film classes are available? Nothing foreign.”

She suggests Intro to Poetry.

You tell her she’s fired and demand a new adviser. She explains that that isn’t how it works and suggests you broaden your horizons. You inform her that the last time you decided to “broaden your horizons” with the poetry crowd you dropped acid at Austin City Limits and spent five hours in what you thought was a cave of dreams, but actually turned out to be a trashcan, and now you have Hepatitis C, and that if she suggests a poetry class again you’re going to spit your Hepatitis into her tupperware contained cobb salad when she isn’t looking.

Don’t blow her off just yet. She knows something you don’t.

You start working up a good loogie.

Honestly, fine, she might know something that you don’t. After all, no one knows everything. Plus she’s an adviser, there’s an almost certain chance that she has given your schedule more thought than you have, and she probably just looked at it fifteen minutes before your appointment. But still, poetry? There better be an intriguing reason for this.

What you are missing is that extra skill that will set you apart from your fellow graduates.

And that extra skill is rhyming words…

Yeah, she’s fired.

That’s an admittedly overly simplistic view of poetry on my part. There’s so much more to it than rhyming words. Take slam poetry for example, that doesn’t have to rhyme, that just has to be thoughts, shouted, and preferably disjointed. Check it out:


(*rapidly slams bongos*)


(*softly taps bongos twice*)


Sky clouds.

(*takes a moment*)

Is rain there?

(*slams bongos simultaneously*)


(*holds up picture of Rainn Wilson, aka Dwight from The Office*)

(*rapidly slams bongos*)


Hire me.


That poem, friends, will definitely get you a job…at the coffee shop you perform it at.

She has suggested poetry because she knows it is the last class you would ever choose for yourself, but she also knows it has potential to make your name stand out against the sea of biology majors who will become your competition for a job.

If someone is applying for a job in a biology related field, and after all the resumes are compared, all the job interviews had, all the evaluations poured over, and maybe even after a second round of interviews is had as well, if the candidates are so tightly competitive that something as insignificant as a (probably fake) interest in poetry can tip the scales, then you’re basically at the mercy of pure fucking luck at that point. Your fate is more likely to be decided by a coin flip or by who is more attractive than it is by an interest in poetry. So skip the poetry class and hit up church and the gym more often, both would legitimately be more useful.

Here’s way better advice: pick up a hobby or interest that someone in the field you’re trying to get into might actually have. For example, if you’re going into some sort of business/accounting field, bone up on your beer league softball skills. If you’re going into a profession where you might run into a lot of geeky people, Battlestar Galactica is on Netflix. If you’re applying to TFM, lock yourself in a basement, watch nothing but porn, and drink nothing but whiskey. Only then can you relate to us.

Do yourself a favor, and take the poetry class. It will be worth your time.

Do yourself a favor, do not take that poetry class. It will not be worth your time. You will spend two to three days a week listening to geeds talk about their feelings, try to find themes that aren’t there (like incest and everyone being gay!), and perhaps you’ll even have to listen to their own original poetry.

Let me tell you something right now. I’ve had a couple of different jobs since I’ve graduated, and no job short of being Brooklyn Decker’s muff wrangler is worth listening to someone’s original poetry.

The business world is looking for someone well-rounded. Today, networking is key.

Networking IS key in the business world. Please let me know how talking about poetry with a Goldman Sachs bro goes over, because trust me, the hiring process in the business world is frighteningly similar to this:

Not many people want to talk about work after they have clocked out.

And no one wants to talk about poetry, ever.

It’s time to show a little culture.

– “Hey, have you seen Zero Dark Thirty? Real Oscar contender.”

– “Hey, you catch the game last night?”

– “Hey, I write fan fiction for the mildly popular sci-fi film Tremors. Would you mind terribly if I gave you a dramatic reading?”

All of those are more interesting cultural questions than, “So I took a poetry class in college. Do you like poetry?”

I would SO rather talk about someone’s Tremors fan fiction than poetry. Maybe I’m not classy. Maybe I’m a big Kevin Bacon fan. Regardless, it’s true.

The rest of the article goes on to justify taking a poetry class by claiming it will help with your writing skills. The truth is that writing a lot will improve your writing skills far more than taking a miserable poetry class every will. You’re better off blogging about baseball or fashion or what sort of beasts lurk within Nancy Pelosi’s vagina (kill two birds and make it Tremors fan fiction!) on a Tumblr that no one will ever read than you are trying to romanticize each trimester you spent in the womb into three separate stanzas.

The expanding your horizons angle I agree with. It makes sense. The poetry part is a stretch, and then some. My advice, if you want to a class that will expand your horizons and improve your writing, enroll in a screenwriting class, or a creative writing class. Anything but fucking poetry. Because the only other people who will care about your poetry class are the people who also took poetry classes in college, and there aren’t many of those people hiring.

[via USA Today College]

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