How are you gonna spend this summer? Interning at a law firm (aka stapling and filing all day)? Playing with dirt-smeared kids at a summer camp (aka practicing your skills as a totalitarian dictator)? Maybe you’re just returning to the local Pizza Hut down your street.
Well don’t despair, because Jack Wills University Outfitters might have a solution for you: the best summer job in America! That’s right—if you win this exclusive internship as a JW Seasonnaire (yup, that’s the official title), you can chuck your McDonald’s headset in the trash, pick up a pair of navy-and-pink chinos, and spend six weeks partying and “working” in Nantucket! And that’s just the beginning.
Here are some other perks:
- Free housing in JW’s Nantucket House
- A free trip to London to celebrate JW’s annual Varsity Polo.
- $20,000 college tuition (no, I’m not kidding)
If the first two perks didn’t have you scratching your head, I hope the last one did. $20,000 tuition. That’s a lot of money to be making in a single summer. Well, at least it’s going to a JW Seasonnaire—someone who will do some important service work for the needy Nantucket and London communities…
Alright, Jack Wills University Outfitters as a clothing store can be elitist to a certain extent. There are plenty of stores that sell regular V-necks for $30, and there are plenty of shoppers (sometimes me) who buy them anyway. I guess that’s just the nature of the shopping industry. And the emphasis on “University” makes clear who the target audience is—rich college kids. The underlying message, then, goes something like this: if you aren’t privileged enough to pursue higher education, don’t even bother entering this store.
But don’t lots of stores target audiences in shallow ways. Why do I find JW particularly offensive? I am brought back to the last time I was at a shopping mall: a shirtless male model stood outside of Abercrombie and Fitch, and handed out flyers to blushing pre-teen girls and their moms. I was disgusted, and a little embarrassed for everyone. But mostly I was outraged by the shamelessness of it all.
And that’s what JW is—shameless. It flagrantly embraces the hedonistic “University Kid” image. Rather than seeing the “University Kid” as a possibly obscene demonstration of excessive wealth, JW sees him/her as a fashion icon. The “University Kid” may very well be a fashion icon, but that does not mean we can ignore the obvious class dynamics at play.
JW continues its shameless streak with an utterly shallow admissions process. Here are the rules for applying:
You must be between the ages of 18 and 24.
You be enrolled in an accredited undergraduate program.
You must submit a minute long video for why you should be chosen.
Note how at no point does JW reveal what kind of “work” a Seasonnaire does. Therefore, when you apply for the job, you aren’t even expected to provide a resume. How do you qualify then? From what I can tell, all a JW Seasonnaire has to be is cool, pretty, and able to navigate WASP Country… If you master those qualities, apparently JW thinks you deserve to make $20,000. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.
I am not saying that all JW Seasonnaires are actually shallow rich kids; I know there are plenty of good people who apply for this internship. In fact, there’s a fellow Amherst student applying to be a JW Seasonnaire, and he is a genuinely wonderful person. He certainly deserves the best summer job in America. Not because he’s cool, pretty and can navigate WASP Country—though I’m sure he can—but because he’s a hard-working and nice guy. These are the kind of characteristics JW should actually be concerned with. I even voted for him—I mean, someone’s gotta win, right? It might as well be someone I trust is a good person.
Maybe going to Amherst has made me hypersensitive to rich-college-kid stereotypes—very possible. But there’s something about Jack Wills University Outfitters that doesn’t seem right.
Let me know what you think, and thanks for the read!
Doin me since 1991,