My days knocking around Rome have more or less all blurred into one long interlude. The hours pass rather slowly but the weeks are pretty speedy- as if a gust of wind blew through the pages of the calendar and left me with only the spine. I graduated from the MBA three months ago and although I have learned more about life in Italy than I care to admit, news on the job-front is slim.
I was speaking to a friend of mine from ESADE and she as good as summed it up in noting that, “In this economy- the MBA is a curse. We’re overqualified and too expensive to hire.” Not to mention the fact that none of us have any savings left- due to the drainage of our accounts during the pricey MBA.
Now, I’m not speaking about everyone. Some of the fortunate (and perhaps previously a bit more ambitious and focused) ex-classmates of mine have found great jobs. Positions including: Product Manager at J&J in Sao Paolo Brazil, Senior Analyst for Yahoo! in Geneva Switzerland, Airbus engineer in France, a one-year rotational program at Whirlpool in Monterrey Mexico, Operations Manager at Amazon in Glasgow Scotland, consulting for Deloitte in Johannesburg South Africa, business development and finance at a television station in the Philippines, Consulting in London, Finance in New York, rotational program for GSK beginning in Philadelphia, etc…
I must acknowledge that I’m delighted for my friends- I not only love them all dearly, but I have an immense amount of respect for them as individuals, their capabilities and their talents. I know that wherever they are and whatever they are occupying themselves with- they are making the ESADE name, and all their former classmates, very proud.
Then, there are those of us not as lucky: a few ex-students winding away their days on the beaches of Barcelona between job searches and networking events, while some alumnus returned to their homes- or their wives- waiting for news of that scintillating “post-MBA job.” And others, like myself, are taking each day at a time- while nevertheless enjoying the much needed “down time” that the post-MBA unemployment vacuum provides.
The MBA flew by. Just yesterday- I was 27, flying into Barcelona’s El Prat airport and reading a bus map trying to find ESADE. I blinked and then it was over.
On the other hand- these hours, days, and weeks here in Rome- teetering on the edge between “my big break” and “eternal joblessness” has seemed like a lifetime.
There was a period where it rained for almost a month straight. Therefore, the sparkle of my supposed “Roman Holiday” had faded to grey. Have you noticed that when the weather is dreary, everything seems bleak? Job opportunities morphed into empty promises. My beloved walks to the gym became tedious trudges through unceasing drizzle and darkness. Going anywhere- whether to a store, restaurant or café- rendered me a drowned rat- as opposed to chic Italiana.
Then, one day, the rain stopped. The sun came out, Rome twinkled yet again and “La Dolce Vita” recommenced. This time however, a new desire and motivation was born within me- and I got moving in attempts of putting my education to work. ESADE has been, in part, characterized by its “entrepreneurial spirit.” For that reason, I’ve come to the conclusion that instead of sluggishly waiting to be discovered as a brilliant, capable and interesting MBA graduate by some successful company with multiple future opportunities and a huge salary- it is in my best interest to invent something on my own. That is, of course, if I plan to remain in Italy.
So I’ve been networking, devising, creating, brainstorming, establishing, generating, and fashioning an ideal job for myself. And in my downtime…I’ve been discovering more about the Italian mentality, about Italy and about Italians. I am confident in announcing that in my findings, my original assumptions have been confirmed- Italy is one of the most backwards countries in the world- Italians are some of the most indolent and oftentimes insincere individuals I have ever met…but they sure know how to have a good time! And amongst the masses, there are of course- the gems. A good Italian is a rare find- but if you happen to encounter one- it’s worth its weight in Bvlgari Diamonds.
I’ve also been reading. (thank you amazon.co.uk)
I read the Stieg Larsson Series: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. Entertaining but maybe a bit disappointing considering the hype. I prefer surprises.
I also read a Marion Keyes series- three books centered around three sisters and their early adulthood experiences: Angels, Rachel’s Holiday and Watermelon. The first two were great. Quintessential chick-lit but a good escape. Beach reading. The last book, Watermelon, is a waste of space on my expanding bookshelf.
And then I read a book on Kabbalah and was all in-tune with my spiritual self for a few days. I, at that point, believed that I had found the link between myself and my religion- Mysticism. But then, a few days later when I began reading another work of chick-lit fiction I thought suited me, Shoe Addicts Anonymous, I forgot most of what I read and Kabbalah became a distant memory. Besides, it was a book entitled God Wears Lipstick, so how much was I supposed to remember anyway?
And finally, I read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I have to say that this book is without a doubt, one of the most incredible, engaging and inspiring novels I have read in my entire life. It reminded me what I love about literature. It reminded me of the type of writer I have always aspired to become. And most importantly, it transported me to another place in another time but by the last page- the characters were as close to my heart as my best friends and Bombay could have been “my city.” It was one of those books that for a week straight, I stayed at home reading on the couch instead of going out. It was one of those books that made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt and at points, made me wail with tears- I couldn't wait to get back to the book during the days and at night, it invaded my dreams. It was one of those books that inexplicably connects me to everyone else in the world who has ever read it.
Shantaram warmed my soul and filled me- as a traveler, explorer and writer- a powerful desire to “do more.”
Moral of the story: read Shantaram.
Until next time….