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The Politically Incorrect Guide

For some RCs it is the end of the Great Internship Hunt, while for others that great wave of relief and exhaustion is still elusive. Thanks to the Great Recession this year, it appears “hunt” is a rather apt word for the elaborate courtship that HBS students perform each year. But don’t despair, especially if you are one of those for whom the chase is not yet over. Why waste a good crisis? Perhaps it is just the right time for some flexibility and deep introspection on life, the universe and career options. This guide is all you need. That, and a good English foxhound.

A brief guide to some less popular career options.

A brief guide to being a muse:
First, find a sufficiently impoverished artist. If this is not possible, a poverty-stricken writer or director or, if truly desperate, a poet will do. A typical example of this specimen has long, unkempt hair that is usually a nesting ground for various insects, small birds and – in one recorded instance in 1874 – a very frightened kangaroo. His face tends to be typically oval-shaped, unless it is round or perhaps square in which case it is not, in fact, oval. He is also conspicuous by a look of perpetual failure and a general state of sulkiness.

Second, strive to look as muse-like as possible. Try to be genetically-endowed with impossibly long legs, an exquisitely small curvy waist, voluptuous hips and goddess breasts. Remember to exhibit at all times a perpetually pained expression not unlike that of one who’s just walked past an open sewer. One is advised to grow to be a staggering 6 feet.

Refuse to wear clothes as a mark of protest against society’s obscene fascination with materialistic possessions. As one will soon learn, this stance will stand you in good stead when one realizes that a poverty-stricken artist will usually not be able to afford Prada. Gucci maybe, but not Prada.

Do not talk. Ever. Merely grunt when spoken to. When one desires a ridiculously expensive object of no functional value whatsoever – as a muse, being unreasonable is a way of life and a deep philosophical principle – a light tip of the head 1/8th of an inch in the general direction of the desired object will fetch instant results.

Strive to be as volatile as possible. In fact, the more explosive your mood swings, the better a muse you’ll make. It helps slightly to break a small but expensive object from time to time. As your inspired artist/poet/writer/struggling dentist will typically be monetarily-challenged, this may not always be possible after a certain point in time. In which case, one may try breaking windows, doorknobs, body-parts and an egg occasionally.

As a muse, you will be required to do something sufficiently inspiring from time to time. This being the arrangement, in exchange for free food, housing, various shiny objects and the undying adoration of a struggling albeit genius-before-his-time-on-the-brink-of-stupendous-success artist. Or if not an artist, at the very least, a mildly disillusioned plumber who feels he was destined for greater things like, say, Picasso.

But not to worry, evoking inspiration is effortless for a muse of great talent. The easiest thing to do is to drop one’s clothes and stand poised in a state of heightened rapture, one’s face glowing with the borrowed radiance of the rising sun. Of course, it is easier to exude a quality of heartbreaking beauty if one is not an overweight hag with a rather conspicuous mustache. If this is unfortunately the case, consider instead living in absolute darkness and finding a sufficiently disillusioned dentist to inspire.

A brief guide to being an intellect:
Intellects are those strange creatures whose sole aim in life is to one day have an entire closet full of tweed jackets with leather elbow patches and 7 pairs of horn-rimmed glasses. An intensely annoying high-pitched nasal voice is highly desirable. If one is doubly blessed with a lisp, then this may be the perfect profession for you.

When you invite friends over, make sure to have none but the most boring people in the history of mankind invade your abode. Serve only shredded duck in oyster sauce canapés and foie gras with fig and orange blossom chutney carefully fashioned into exquisite mickey mouse shapes. Always serve wine to your guests. Remember to announce that it is only the best fleufdelablooblahbleh, made with grapes hand-pressed by Louis the XIV himself.

As an intellect, you are expected to be well-read. Take pains to pepper your home with books. Playboy does not count. The more incomprehensible, the better. If you can, always surround yourself with books by French authors. It helps if it’s the original language. It also helps if one actually knows French.

A good reply to the question, have you read (insert book title here) would be: Not recently. This absolves one of resorting to mendacity.

Have highly-opinionated opinions on everything, particularly life, philosophy and the universe in general. For reference, try Kierkegaard and Nietzsche for Dummies, 2nd edition. Whenever anyone objects to your opinion, invoke the double-core induction theorem. Hence proved.

Never enunciate and always speak with a drawl, as if it is too much effort to discipline one’s tongue to frame a coherent sentence. In fact, the less understandable you are, the greater your intellectual standing among your peers. When faced with a particularly difficult philosophical question, remember that the square root of negative 73 is always a good answer.

Invent your own philosophy. If you can, invent your own system of ethics. Do not, however, invent your own language. That’s just plain stupid. If somebody objects to your system of ethics on grounds of fundamental flaws and blatant moral relativism, invoke the double-core induction theorem. You will soon realize it’s a good theorem to know.

Hence proved.

A brief guide to being an insufferable snob:
To paraphrase a famous green furry.er person: Be or be not. There is no try. In the same vein, one cannot become a snob. One is either born with the gift, or isn’t.

Never call anyone by their names. Snap your fingers instead. If you can, avoid any sort of tedious labor like snapping fingers. You will find a barely perceptible flick of your fingers in the general direction of the hired help should be sufficient to elicit response. If one is forced to use words, choice vocabulary includes: garcon, slave and minion. While talking to entities of lower bearing, make sure to scrunch up your nose like you’re in the vicinity of a dead animal in the advanced stage of putrefaction.

Refuse to drink any water except a particularly obscure brand of water bottled at the foothills of the glaciers of Ukraine. When it comes to clothes, only wear obscenely expensive brand labels. And no, Made in China does not qualify as a brand label.

Ostentatious display of jewelry is considered tacky. Instead, request your local cosmetic surgeon to inject your cheekbones with 200 carat Belgium-grade A diamonds set in gold. You may die, but it’s a small price to pay for a noble cause.

When you die, leave your house, cars, diamonds, and all your money to your dog. To not seem like a heartless wretch, remember to leave 64 cents and a wad of used chewing-gum to your illegitimate son.

Of course, it helps greatly if in addition to these traits one also possesses a truck-load of money. Preferably old (read: inherited) money and a “name” – not the ones they call you behind your back. It’s always a good sign if one can trace one’s ancestry all the way back to one’s own father. If one finds oneself insufficiently endowed in this regard, fret not. Simply find a decrepit old person and get married immediately in the presence of a lawyer and two witnesses. A Russian oil-baron is always a good choice.

Happy hunting.

AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHY
Lavanya Nalli is an RC student at HBS (Section G), where she reads cases, makes ugly-looking Excel models and sharpens pencils. When she’s not doing any of those things, she blogs, sketches, obsesses over xkcd and occasionally frightens squirrels.

April 12, 2010
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