Gettin’ paid, getting’ paid – Job hunting advice! by Matt Kasznel
05.07.10, 9:45 am
Filed under: MattK, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

For those of you who are interested, I survived junior year. I’m officially a senior at Duquesne University. You may hold your applause until the end of the blog post.

But before I get to the the thrill of graduation, the agony of senior thesis, and the human drama of secondary education (props to anyone who gets that reference), another four-month task stands in my way: the temporary workforce.

In my flurry of schoolwork, school newspaper work, work study job, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, I had little chance to search for a job or internship most of the semester.  The job I had last summer – “warehouse associate” of a company that made aluminum insulator pipes – can’t give me hours, and while my hands are very happy that they won’t be bleeding as much this summer, my wallet is not as happy.

Even internships are difficult to come by.  Journalism internships are rough because most don’t pay well, if at all.  And banks aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to give out internships with this whole “we’-re having a financial crisis and it’s all the banks’ fault” thing going on.  This means I’m doing what I’ve done for the last two summers: searching for random full and part time labor to get me through until August.

However, my suffering can be to your benefit, readers.  Frantically searching for employment has made me somewhat well-versed in the art of the summer job search.

First off, the Internet is a beautiful thing, especially if you don’t live in the area you go to school in (i.e. you go to Duquesne but live in Philadelphia like me).  Not only are online job search sites great for simply looking for jobs, but most offer a “common application,” meaning you fill out your core application once and submit that to each employer, with a couple additional questions to answer for each individual job.  This saves you an incredible amount of time; in the time it would take you to drive around town and fill out three or four applications, you can apply for twenty-five different positions online.

For jobs or internships that are related to your major in college, you need to be looking starting in January.  They’re valuable, competitive, and fill up very quickly.  A site like JobsOnline or Monster that specializes in long-term “career”-type employment would be a good place to look for these jobs.

For regular summer jobs, such as working in retail or landscaping, you can usually apply later in the semester, even up until late April, and still be okay. is a great site for this.  You may think that online applications get lost in the mess of millions of applicants, but I received two phone calls just two days after applying for jobs on SnagAJob.

Second, if you’ve applied for online jobs and haven’t heard back in about a week, drive around to the different places you applied and see what’s going on.  You can call and do this as well, but it’s much harder for someone to deny you or claim they “don’t do job applications” in person than over the phone.  Plus, while some might seem annoyed that you’re “harassing” them, most will appreciate your hustle.

Day camps are always fun too.  If you’re good with children and don’t mind (or love) being outside, being a day camp counselor is a great job, although the pay is not always the greatest.

Lastly, there’s always College Pro Painter.  A painting and window-cleaning company, College Pro Painter has been hiring exclusively college students for summer work for nearly forty years.  You’ll spend the summer “cold-calling” potential customers for estimates, painting houses, and basically working hard, but they have a very good hire rate.  Always consider them, unless you’re not a fan of manual labor or pass out at the scent of acrylic paint.

That’s the end of my guided tour of summer employment.  We hope you’ll come again soon.  The gift shop is to your right–please buy something.  As I’ve mentioned before, I could certainly use the cash.



Crossroads Mission Trip -Part II (“We Built a House!”) by Matt Kasznel

Since my last post was a lot of text, I’ll try and make this a “photo entry” of sorts.

The Boss with the bossTo the left is Kaylee, aka “Boss.” To the right is Ed, the actual boss. But since Ed’s getting long in the tooth, he picked Kaylee, a freshman who didn’t know a ton of people on the trip, to be his active helper during out first three days on the job. It was a great way for a new Crossroads member like Kaylee to get to know the group – plus, for a group of people that loves giving nicknames, the chance to call her “Boss” all week led to some very amusing exchanges.

Ryan hammeringRyan’s a man! Look at that hammering technique! Going on this trip helped all us non-carpentry folk learn some snazzy technical jargon to impress our folks when we got home.  My grandfather was very pleased that I knew how to flip trusses to support the roof, how to knock out shiners, and what a joyce is. The problem? I still don’t know how to spell “joyce.” Hey, can’t learn it all in a week, right?

Cam on the roofBy the second or third day of working, everyone got used to walking around on the trusses (roof supports) and sitting on the roof knowing that despite what our instincts were screaming to us, we weren’t going to fall off. Before that, though? Different story. When you and your group of friends are the ones who hammer in the supports for these big suckers, you tend to be more wary of how strong they are. We didn’t have a ton of confidence in how strong the trusses were at first, but after a while, everyone (such as Cam, shown to the left), got comfortable with working up “high.”

Sarah on the roof

As I mentioned, the roof! Here’s Sarah, hammering in the innermost protection for the roof.

Bri sawing

We also learned to use tools that we really had no business using.  How many college students does it take to operate a buzzsaw?

Hopefully, just one, or you’re probably doing it wrong.  Here’s Bri using it properly.

Weather protectionThe last stage of our house- building process (or at least what we were there for): weatherproofing the portion of roof we’d put up.  It’s a good thing it wasn’t windy, or this would’ve been really hard to do…oh wait, it was.  Hence why it took nearly every member of our team to hold this down while we hammered the tarp down.

More pics, entries to come.


Crossroads Mission Trip – Part 1 (Trekkin’ Down to FL) by Matt Kasznel

I meant what I said and I said what I meant-I will recap this Crossroads trip no matter how long it takes.

We departed from Pittsburgh on Saturday, Feb. 27 around 4:30 PM. We had 22 total people–17 current Duquesne undergrads, one grad student, two former DU students (who formed one lovely married couple), and two adult leaders. We crammed into two vans; for those who are morally opposed to math, that’s 11 people in each van for about 20 hours, with a couple stops along the way. Oh man.

The trek down started fine, but when night crept in and it was time to give the drivers some quiet to concentrate on the roads, trouble started. In case you’ve never tried, it’s quite the challenge to sleep sitting in a van with 10 other people. I got about 45 minutes of sleep, and that didn’t come until around 5 AM Sunday. By seven, we were at our breakfast destination, Waffle House.
After grub, we piled back into the vans that we had named for to make things easier (our van was the DeLorean, from “Back to the Future”–the other van, the Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars.”)  We were staying at a Girl Scout camp near our work site, but they weren’t ready for us to “check in” yet, so we spent a few hours playing frisbee at a nearby park. Amazing how long you can play frisbee for while running on less than an hour of sleep and an overload of McDonalds/Wendy’s.

When we got to the campsite and unpacked, I promptly fell asleep. Amazingly, though, I woke up feeling worse than I did before. Luckily, though, it was dinner time. We took turns making dinner during the week, and that night was spaghetti and meatballs, one of my favorites.

After dinner, we held our nightly worship session, which is where I started to think this trip was going to be more than I had expected. Our friend Pete spoke about trying to keep your life in perspective, even when you feel like you might “deserve” more than you’re getting. Afterwards, my good friend Jon played guitar and led us in worship music, my favorite part of each evening. Anytime someone begins playing a song everyone knows the words to, it can make for a great experience. But when the lyrics you all know mean more than the average love song, everything is raised to another level.

After worship, we all really hit the sack hard…except for the guys in my room. The four of us–myself, Jon, Ryan, and Cam–spent a solid hour “trying” to sleep, but actually talking about different bands and music styles. We had a couple more conversations like this during the week, and no matter how ridiculous or how serious the talks were, I felt like each one brought us closer together.

This post turned out longer than I thought it would, especially considering we haven’t actually hit the work week yet. But that part’s coming, as well as a few more pictures. Hope you’re enjoying this so far.


Crossroads Mission Trip – God, Houses, Boars, and Gator Tails by Matt Kasznel
03.10.10, 12:45 am
Filed under: events, MattK | Tags: , , , , , ,

I have a bad habit of forgetting to blog about evens that have occurred in my oh-so-important life until far after they’ve happened.  Hence, blogging about that econ conference a week after I went to it. So to recap what’s happened recently:

1. I was appointed Assistant Sports Editor at the Duke, which means I’ll be head sports editor next year. Go me.

2. I navigated a week and a half of collegiate ridiculousness, featuring tons of assignments and stories to write. (Remember what I said folks–take advantage of that three day weekend and get your relaxing done then, ’cause it ain’t happenin’ later)

3. I grew out my beard…ever so slowly.

4. I went on a mission trip with Crossroads and Habitat for Humanity during spring break that changed my life.

Since I’m not sure how much material I’ll get out of #3, I guess I’ll tell you some about my trip.

Crossroads is a Christian fellowship group on campus. While Duquesne is indeed a Catholic university, Crossroads does not restrict itself to one sect of Christianity, instead accepting all who believe in God, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I’ve been a member for a year and a half since my better half convinced me to go in Fall of ’08.

This year, Crossroads’ annual spring break mission trip was originally scheduled for New Orleans, but because the sponsor group in NO folded, Crossroads changed its plans to go to work with Habitat for Humanity in Sumter County, FL.

The idea of paying $500 to give up my week of freedom during what I call “Winter Break II” (because any break that starts in February is not a spring break in my book) to build houses for 6-8 hours a day was not high on my list of favorite things, whether it was in Indiana, Florida, or outer space.
But my friend Dan convinced me to go and told me how to raise money for the trip. Plus, my better half had gone on the mission trip the year prior (to a deaf village in Jamaica) and said it was an incredible experience. After a while, I decided at the very least, I’d have a few stories to tell from the trip, so I agreed to go.

As it turned out, the trip was everything I could have asked for, with plenty more than I expected.

I don’t talk candidly about my religion very much, but suffice to say, my faith truly changed over the course of break. This happened not only because of the type of work we were doing, but because of our nightly worship sessions, which featured a member of our group speaking on a particular subject followed by about a half hour of worship music.
All the while, I met a ton of new people, and truly bonded with those that I knew before the trip. I hate to sound cheesy, but this is definitely something that I won’t forget.

Because of how long this trip was and what kind of impact it had on me, I don’t think I can sufficiently recap it in one blog. I’ll break this up into a few entires that I’ll supply over the course of the next week. For now, enjoy a couple pictures from the trip


Worksite Image 1

Worksite 2

“USA! USA! USA!…Oh wait, I hate that guy.” by Matt Kasznel

As first reported on this blog, Pittsburgh likes hockey a lot. So when the Winter Olympics roll around every four years, the city doesn’t mourn the two-week break from the NHL; they embrace the wonderful hockey that ensues.

Russia v. Czech Republic. Sweden v. Finland. Slovakia v. Latvia. And of course, tonight’s marquee matchup, USA v. Canada. As my housemate and hockey buff Yogin puts it, “This is like watching the All-Star game, except the players actually care.”

Here’s the bizarre part, though. In my house there are six people. Five of us are Flyers fans, the sixth a Penguins fan. 90% of the year, we hate our opposing hockey teams. We haven’t watched a Flyers-Pens game together since freshman year, when a group viewing with the six of us plus a few of our floor-mates turned particularly contentious. (Near the end of the game, my Flyers fan buddy Matt’s comment, “Malkin? More like terrible!” rubbed the Pens fans, particularly Yogin, the wrong way even though the Pens were winning)

And yet, tonight, we’re all assembled in the living room to watch the USA-Canada game. What gives?

Team Canada features some premier Flyers (Mike Richards, Chris Pronger) and Penguins (some punk named Crosby). Yet, we’re all cheering against them. Penguin winger Brooks Orpik plays for Team USA, but even us Flyer fans are pulling for him. Huh?

In the end, even though hockey is not my favorite sport, I can appreciate a really great game of puck, which is what USA v. Canada has provided through the first two periods. For two weeks, Pens-Flyers means nothing save for an interesting backstory. It’s about pride in your country, and while it may only show for two weeks in the world of hockey, we’re all Americans 24/7. (Well, except for you international students. Didn’t mean to push you guys aside)

So in conclusion…USA! USA! USA! See you guys in a week, where I’ll return with my “Let’s Go Flyers!” chant.


Exploring Liberty…and the Super Bowl by Matt Kasznel
02.04.10, 9:54 am
Filed under: events, MattK

I’ll be glad to be through with this hellish week of school, as this weekend lines up to be a pretty good one for yours truly. Saturday, I’m performing at a Haiti benefit party with a few friends (I’ll be the one telling the bad jokes and playing the bad songs); and on Sunday, I’m hosting a Super Bowl party at my house that should hopefully be pretty awesome.

It’s crazy to think that, just two weeks ago, I spent my entire weekend with a group of people who were more interested in talking Keynes and Mill than Brees and Manning.

You see, two weeks ago Duquesne played host to a weekend-long Institute for Humane Studies seminar, entitled “Exploring Liberty.” As an economics major here at DU, I, like my colleagues in the program, was invited, nay, demanded to attend the seminar by our very libertarian professor, Dr. Antony Davies. (I believe his exact quote in November was “You are all invitied….well, actually, you’re more than invited. If you’re not there, I will be very concerned, considering what major you are all in.”)

Even as an economics major who gets along with most of the people in the program, this was a whole different ballgame for me. My regular group of friends is full of plenty of smart people, but our primary sources of conversation stem from football, The Office, Sporkle web quizzes, and video games. We saw this type of discussion about philosophy and economics as good for academia, so good that it should stay with academia. Now, by going to a seminar full of students who talk about philosophy, human rights, and economics as part of their entertainment, I was drifting into uncharted waters.

The seminar began Friday afternoon with some opening remarks from Dr. Davies, then two presentations on values and rights presented by Dr. Howard Baetjer and Dr. Aeon Skoble. Dr. Baetjer spoke about how we reassign our values depending on the issue at hand, such as pollution or crime. Dr. Skoble spoke on positive and negative rights–negative being rights we are born with, and positive being rights that others are obligated to fulfill for us.
Saturday’s marathon of lectures included two on America’s founding by Prof. Robert McDonald, more from Baetjer and Skoble, and a particularly entertaining lecture/exercise from Dr. Davies that I’ve been part of before, but never get tired of.  In the activity, Davies assigns some people to be firms and others to be laborers, and then sets us off on a frenzy of buying and selling labor at various prices for our own benefit

Labor Supply and Demand.

That’s yours truly in the row second furthest from the back in the teal t-shirt. Sadly (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), my buddy Brandon’s hand is blocking my face. I was one of the firms, wheeling and dealing while trying to figure out which ratio of skilled and unskilled workers would give me the most profit.  Brandon, one of the workers, is displaying the price (wage) he’s willing to sell an hour of his labor for.

Things were fine and dandy–the firms were making profit, the laborers were making decent money and selling all their labor.  But when Davies instituted a minimum wage, there was a very different result.

You see this, folks?  This is what we in the biz like to call a “labor surplus.” This is where all the workers have labor to sell, but no one’s buying because it’s so expensive.  (Due to my poor vision, I did get duped a few times by people on the opposite side of the room from me. I would think I saw $6 and point to them to buy their labor, only to have them tell me they were actually holding an $8. Curse you, eyes)
The whole point of the exercise was to show that the minimum wage hurts more than it helps.  Davies talked more about examples of data contradicting conventional wisdom, and if you’re intrigued at all, you can check out more of his stuff here-

At the end of each day, there were “breakout” group discussions followed by a social.  The group discussions were held in groups of about eight students, each mediated by one professor.  And incredibly, even after a full day of nothing but debate over rights and liberty, students were still ready to go at each other’s throats over certain issues.  It was incredible.  This was like my philosophy/current events club in high school, except if the meeting lasted for 25 hours.  Personally, I loved it.  I love debate in general, and this was a forum to express my views like few I’ve seen.  You had people from all different faiths and political mindsets, making the arguments very spirited.  But at the end, it was like two tennis players going at it, then shaking hands at the end and going, “Great match, man. Let’s go get a beer!”

And we did.  After the evening breakout discussion, there was a social every night.  A chance for the economists, philosophers, and historians to unwind a little?  Au contraire!  Here, the students and staff tossed out political and economic theories and applied them to everyday life–every so often was an entertaining non-sequitur about the student’s classes or the professor’s kids, and plenty of career advice from the professors to the students.

Here’s a good example: my friend Giuseppe talking with one of the staff members over a Blue Moon.  That’s what kind of environment this was: very laid back and informal.  You didn’t have to force students to be comfortable and keep telling them, “I know that we’re professors, but we’re really like your friends!” or some nonsense like that.  It was so comfortable already that all that wasn’t necessary.  (Of course, they carded at these events, so no underage drinking for the economists)

On Sunday, we wrapped things up with a few free books (I’m a fan of anything with the word “free” in front of it) and some closing comments from the professors where we asked them a couple more questions about libertarianism, human rights, and the free market.  To the right are the key speakers. From left to right: Prof. McDonald, Dr. Skoble, Dr. Davies, and Dr. Baetjer.

The weekend accomplished a few things for me.  It really forced me to think, it got me to see seemingly one-sided issues from plenty of different perspectives, and it was a great way to get to know the people in my major even better.

But there was one other benefit to this weekend.  Despite how much fun I had and how enlightening the entire weekend was, it also made me very happy to go home and talk about football again for a few hours while watching the Saints-Vikings game.  Sometimes, absence makes the heart grow fonder; there were maybe two or three people at this event willing to talk sports for an extended period of time, unless it was about how the revenue-sharing salary cap in the NFL was akin to socialism.

So let’s end this on a lighthearted note–I’ve got Saints 37, Colts 35.  And if you want my full breakdown of the game, here it is in this week’s “Duke Debates” portion of the Duquesne Duke.

Peace, everyone.


Thinking Out Loud – 12/3 by Matt Kasznel

Hi folks–this is my last column for the Duquesne Duke this semester, because this week’s issue is ALSO the last one of the semester.  We’ll resume our regular shenanigans in early/mid January following winter break.  If you’d like to check out the entire newspaper, including archives of our previous issues this semester, check out Enjoy!
Cowabunga! The 80’s Are Back, Legit

I recently discovered the heavy metal band Steel Panther. As usual, however, I am a few years late to the party. The best mock rock band since Spinal Tap, Steel Panther has been churning out ’80s heavy metal riffs combined with over-the-top, ridiculously sexual, ’80s heavy metal lyrics for the better part of this decade. As overblown as their ’80s rock image is, it still accurately portrays that culture of music. (99 percent of these lyrics aren’t allowed in the average college newspaper, so I won’t even try.)

The 1980s – especially its music – falls right behind “scandalous political figures” as the easiest target for comedians and humorists, and for good reason. Take a look at any music video starring Van Halen front-man David Lee Roth. Back then, these videos were considered funny, wild and crazy. These days it’s hard enough to look at any singer from the era and accurately identify their gender on the first guess, let alone take them seriously.

But I have a warning for you Dukes. You may take shots at the music, movies and fashion of the “Molly Ringwald Era,” but take heed, because the ’80s are back.

First, let’s analyze what made ’80s music so appealing. Music videos were much more relevant to the songs of the ’80s than any videos are today. Two of the top singers from the era, George Michael of Wham! and Madonna, were stylish and sexy, and their music videos went a long way to promote that image. Also, remember that MTV actually played music videos during this time; the regular rotation of videos did more to promote the music than it ever would today.

Dance music has always been “sexy” because dancing was generally associated with … yeah, you get it. But ’80s rock music was overtly sexual. You might be thinking, “Duh. Rock music is typically sexual. And the sky is blue, too.” Recall that in the ’90s, however, rock music was primarily infused with brooding, emotionally distraught messages.

The heavy metal group Pantera tried their best to be KISS-revivalists for the entire Reagan administration and ditched the leather pants and glitzy showmanship for angry modern metal, come the new decade. Grunge music was officially in, and outlandish glam rock was out.

But now, the look and style of ’80s music is making a “triumphant” return, depending on your opinion of the time period. It may not seem obvious to you now, but think about some of today’s most popular artists.

Lady Gaga, a dance-floor phenomenon, coats herself in layers of makeup the way farmers shroud their crops in pounds of fertilizer. She’s a modern-day Madonna, unashamed to make music that likely will be mocked in 10 years.

Music by Nickelback, one of the most polarizing rock bands of the new millennium, has been described as everything from “the scourge of music history” to “kind of OK.” The band recently teamed with producer Mutt Lange, the man who helped to sculpt titanic rock albums from AC/DC, Def Leppard and Foreigner. The resulting album is chock-full of party anthems and cheesy “heart-on-sleeve” ballads that follow the same pattern as many ’80s glam rock albums.

But the most evident proof is American Idol darling Adam Lambert. If you’re near a computer, take a minute to search for a cover image of his new album, For Your Entertainment. I’ll wait … OK. Done? It’s crazy, isn’t it? Combine the image with a shrill singing voice that would make Freddie Mercury proud and his passé attitude toward his recent awards-show backlash (blaming parents for letting their children stay up to see his antics), and you have yourself a modern mixture of Roth and Michael.

But, for the moment, he’s still considered trendy. I rest my case. Eighties music is back, and whether you like it or not, chances are … you’re going to like it.