From a proud Kungsholmen graduate, to a busboy at O’Learys

By on May 30, 2013 in Columns

What justice? What education? What Ivy League? What kind of world are we living in? From a proud Kungsholmen graduate, to a busboy at O’Learys.

“One ribs for me, and a pasta Bolognese for my kid.”

Thank you sir, would you like to have anything for appetizer?

Yes, this is me, once a proud IB student at Kungsholmens Gymnasium, once a teacher’s favorite, once a proud Yale graduate, once an exchange student at the prestigious Cambridge University, once an intern at The White House. Now I am here, at O’Learys, with a big smile on my face, serving ribs and pasta to people. No, I am not happy, I don’t think this is fair.

On a hot summer day during 2007, a 19 year old boy rushing out from the school building, welcomed with champagne and flowers by my parents. That was me. I graduated from Kungsholmens Gymnasium 6 years ago. At that time I thought my future would be just as clear as the sky on my graduation day. I got perfect scores on each and every subject except English, where I got a 5. My teacher used my graduation thesis (The Extended Essay) as an example, to demonstrate what a solid A essay looks like. That wasn’t enough: while my classmates were out and enjoying their senior year, partying, I was out doing social services and helping people.

All that studying, all that working, all that blood and sweat, finally paid off. I got into Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University. My family wasn’t wealthy, but that didn’t matter. I got a 70% scholarship and 30% loan. I didn’t care about the loan at all. An Ivy League graduate like me would of course earn more than 6 digits a year, and easily pay off the debt! Right?

In Yale, I continued working hard, I worked even harder than when I was in high school. That paid off as well, I got selected to be an intern at the White House.

I received a first-class degree from Yale, my professors absolutely loved me, and I easily got into a graduate program in Princeton to continue my studies. I graduated about 1 year ago, and now, I am unemployed, or underemployed.

It’s not that I haven’t looked for a job, or that I have too high ambitions. After 11 months of searching for a job eight hours a day, every day, I cannot even pay the rent.

I recently moved back to Sweden, since here I at least have social benefits such as social allowance. I was at a job interview 3 days ago for an administrative job at Nordea Bank. I was turned down since “this job only requires a high school degree; you are way too qualified, and your poor skills in Swedish would be a problem for us.”

I cried after the HR manager called me, I seriously cried. Looking at my Facebook friends, and all my high school classmates, I cried even more. Student A, B, C were my best friends during my high school years, they were all top students who were simply beloved by the teachers; they were all over-achievers. Our classmates used to call us the “big four”, referring to us as successful examples. Students A and B both went to Duke to study psychology and Student C went to UCL to study geography. Look at us now: Student A and B became freelance writers for some newspaper, which can barely pay their bills. Student C is doing better; he was forced to do a PhD degree in Geography, since there are simply no jobs in that field.

Student D, E, F, G were absolutely the worst students at that time; they didn’t do anything meaningful during their high school time. I remember that they all failed the IB. I used to laugh at them, I laughed so hard at them, I laughed at them as they had to spend more years in Komvux (community adult schools). Now? D and E both have their own companies, I checked their addresses recently: Vasastan and Lidingö. F is even doing better, analyst at some fancy investment bank in London, earning big money. G is just doing the best, he graduated from Gothenburg and now is a management consultant. Look at his Facebook pictures! He has a fancy apartment and his girlfriend is a model.

During my time in high school, those people use to come to me, and argued that I should enjoy more of my life rather than focusing everything on the school. I laughed and walked away.

How is the world shaped? How is our society shaped? How can all this be possible? I have a student reunion to attend in a few months, and I am not going, I am simply ashamed. “Oh, I just chilled in university, and got a job at McKinsey & Co. What is your occupation?” “Yeah I just worked my ass off, finally I became a waiter at O’Learys!”

I wrote this article not to make you guys feel sorry for me, but to criticise society. I am applying to Lärarhögskolan this summer, and in a few years I am going to be a kindergarten teacher. At least they have plenty of jobs there.

When your kids grow up, you are very welcome to come to my kindergarten. Let them enjoy the great teaching from a former Ivy League graduate.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that this article has been written by an anonymous author. As we have been unable to verify the authenticity of the author, we cannot vouch for the content of the article.