The stereotype of the eighth grader is that of a lonely, ambitious, assertive, yet insecure adolescent, struggling to find a balance between discovering an independent identity and trying to secure a place among a friend group that shares his or her interests and hobbies. Then he or she has to find their special place within that friend group, and the arduous process begins anew. Eighth grade is also a popular time for us to begin dating, and eighth graders often don’t have access to smart phones, unlimited internet data, and the professional photography services involved in maintaining a respectable online dating profile that so many of us adults (admit it!) enjoy to aid them in navigating this new social world. Needless to say, it’s a tough age, which is why it is so memorable for adults.
Still, this formative stage of life imparts academic and emotional lessons that are critical to surviving today’s job market. As an eighth grader, the goal is very often simply to make it to the ninth grade without developing severe agoraphobia, flunking out, or running out of people to date. These survivalist instincts require the honing of important social and practical skills, ranging from general (e.g. time management) to specific (e.g. statistics and acne-preventing skin care, to name a few). Many of these emotional and academic lessons learned in eighth grade can be parlayed into an impressive and marketable business profile, by those of us who survive it.
10. Census Worker
In eight grade, we learn about statistics, and how to fit numbers onto a graph. This equips us nicely for a job in the government as a census data gatherer. Most positions are entry level, and there is a relatively low educational threshold to entry compared to other state jobs. Entry level jobs generally just involve getting on the phone and asking question. Eighth graders, who are tantalizingly close to the independence afforded by a car, but yet without a license, are masters at exploiting the technological capabilities of several platforms of messaging (most notably AIM or Gchat, depending on your generation). By working for the federal government, you can get a nice pension plan by essentially just asking, ASL (Age/Sex/Location)?
9. Avon Sales Representative
Eighth grade teaches you learn how to advocate for yourself and steer an advantageous course in a social setting on your own, without the aids of teaching assistants to walk you from class to class. This passing time can become very fruitful for those of us who are willing to promote ourselves (as prom queen, class president, hall monitor, or the like), or our merchandise (weed, parents’ alcohol, etc.). This experience is useful training for a career in independent sales, whether it be software, a commercial line of skincare products, or just more expensive drugs.
8. Nursing Home Attendant
Insofar as they are living at home without a car, eighth graders fall squarely—and regrettably, to some—under their parents’ purview. This means that they are subject to replying to their parents’ tiresome questions and answering their demands. U.S. New reports that age 12 is about when kids start to understand the value of money, specifically the concept of investing for the longer term. Eighth graders love their money, and will know how to save it as well as (if not better than) adults. Since eighth graders are already used to doing things their elders ask of them in exchange for money, working in a nursing home is a natural extension of this dynamic. Given the aging Baby Boomers we always hear so much about, and assuming that elderly millennials will be as lazy in retirement as they are as members of the workforce, this vocation promises to provide a future good job security for the current middle school demographic, if they prove as willing to empty a colostomy bag as they are to shovel the driveway.
7. Waiter or Waitress
In eighth grade you have to memorize language paradigms, which involved walking from class to class, or even around the sports fields, with Latin declension endings or a conjugated Spanish verb at the ready. Even if it didn’t really make sense to you, it was capable of memorization with enough repletion. Eighth graders can surely memorize a menu, a list of specials, and complicated descriptions of wine with equal ease (and probably equal apathy). And it might be worth it, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 3% growth for this particular route in the service industry.
A distinctive feature of the eighth grade curriculum is knowledge of the planets, and many of us are familiar with the “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” mnemonic. All you need is access to a computer you can easily use online natal chart generators like the one available here to generate reliably nonspecific information about credulous clients.
N.B. While Pluto is no longer a planet, in astronomical circles, according to astrology.com, Pluto still rules (among other things), crime, kidnapping, obsession, viruses, and waste. So burgeoning astrologers are better off with “Nine Pizzas” that the “Nachos” substituted for those coming of age in today’s astronomy classes.
In the physical sciences, we learn all about photosynthesis! Hoorah! Work as a landscaper or groundskeeper has several perks: you can you work outside, exercise aesthetic creativity, you can often set your own schedule, and, with the right electronic equipment, listen to music while you work.
4. Cell Phone Salesperson
In math, eighth graders are introduced to the life-enriching slope intercept formula: y=mx+b. Despite the validity of many an eighth grader’s sneaking suspicions that the practical applications of this are in fact fewer than our overzealous teachers suggests, this is one that is especially prevalent in today’s sales sector. To determine the most economical cell phone plan, your eighth grade self can simply add the initial contract fee, product fee, etc. to the cost per month, and in this way compare plans for customers over the long term.
Of course this also works to determine things like how much a gym membership will ultimately cost, or determine your cab fare based on price per mile. You can even graph the cost of your journey as the cabbie drives you up and down the same back avenues of New York City, thus justifying your math teacher’s enthusiasm.
Eight grade is high time for learning about the Constitution. Depending on the teaching style of the history or social studies teacher, we as eighth graders often had to memorize the historical documents and contents. If we were lucky, we just had to know the Bill of Rights; however, if the teacher held you accountable for knowing the specifics of the original articles and each state of amendments, you’d make a great Republican, who knows and upholds the U.S. Constitution as a cavernous and formidable Holy Grail. Some might argue that this is not a career in the strict sense of the word; however, as real blue blood Republicans often enjoy a trust fund, live off the interest of family property or investments, or, at the very least, can expect to inherit, actual earnings is often a nonissue.
Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and Arthur Miller are common fixtures of an eighth grade curriculum. The recycled Penguin paperbacks handed down from the class above you taught you how to read a script. You read when your assigned role is featured, and responded to other players with as much emotion as you could fake. Call center representatives do just that. Sure, it can be boring to sit at a desk until 6:00 p.m. building a fortress of chewed gum around your cubicle desk, but, if Donalbain’s return for the throne of Denmark is any lesson, it’ll be worth the wait.
1. 7th Grade Teacher
Many of us adults laugh at how little we use the skills we learned from advanced degrees in things like “Medieval and Renaissance Studies” while at our current jobs. Would any junior high teacher that has put together a lesson plan the night before really argue that you just need to be one step ahead of the flock?
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