Tag Archives: career

Dear Students, Please Get a Job

No, this is not rant against “dirty hippies” or a blind ignoring of the miserable economy; this is the best advice I have to offer college students today. Because I keep meeting students who don’t know this simple piece of wisdom: to get a career, it helps to have had job experience.

I don’t have children, but I mentor teens and college students on career choices. One of the most surprising extensions of teen-dom I come across is meeting new college grads and college students who have never once held a paying job. Not because the economy is awful, but because their parents insisted they not work for a penny while in school.

I feel for those kids. They have never had a single workplace experience or had to pay a bill on their own. And their resume’ is useless when it comes to applying for a job. When I’ve been on teams hiring students, we always pick the C student with great job references from McDonald’s over the straight A’s who’ve never worked. Every time.

Here’s why.

We do not need to hire someone who is good at writing papers or taking tests. We need to hire someone who will show up in a timely fashion, who has worked well with others, who has had a supervisor and demonstrated the ability to get along with a supervisor, and who can support the required workload. All of the Harvard course credits in the world may show that you are smart, but they don’t tell me anything about your job skills – the day-to-day ins and outs of interacting in a workplace.

Before you explain to me that no one will hire you around your class schedule for the kind of job that fulfills your inner spirit animal, please note: it doesn’t matter if the job is in your “field.” Or rather, it doesn’t matter much. Yes, it would be wonderful if you had years of part-time experience doing whatever you do when you apply to do it full-time. But it’s not necessary. You want to be a lobbyist, but you’ve only worked retail? Fine. You’re bringing to the table working for long hours, the ability to discuss other people’s concerns and complaints, multi-tasking skills. These are all useful wherever you go.

Your skills, from job to job, all go into your toolbox. Believe me. I know. I have had, at last count, at least 52 jobs. Why? Because I worked as many part-time jobs and internships as I could while in high school and college (initially because I liked having my own money to spend, and eventually, because I needed the money). One job leads to another, leads to the next.

As some of my friends start parenting older children and teenagers, I see them struggling with whether to “let them” get jobs. Parents, you are only preventing them from getting where they want to be. Even if you can afford to pay all of their bills, a job for spending money is not out of the question. It may be the extra piece their resume’ needs to get them out of your basement one day.

(steps off high horse).

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Filed under Working for a Living

One Down, 97 Million to Go

In the grand struggle to decide what I want to be when I grow up, I think I have considered just about every field. But with a new project at work as a recruiter, my time to investigate new jobs has gotten pretty limited. Luckily, jobs come to me.

Part of my duties involve fielding calls from the various advertising groups and temp agencies who want my employer to hire them. They “check in” once a week to see if we need anything, come by in person to drop off materials, and in general make themselves slaves to anyone who might be able to get them that elusive commission check.

This much I know- commission sales and cold calls are not for me. They all seem pretty content when I meet with them, but I would go nuts having to beg for business. My sister’s husband sells medical supplies and sits around watching DVD’s on sales strategies and goal setting for fun.

Fun? No thanks. One job ruled out. Willing to consider all other options….

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Filed under Daily Life, Working for a Living

Coulda, shoulda, woulda

When I was three, I wanted to be a ballerina. Later, I wanted to be a nurse, an architect, a college professor, a lawyer, an actress, a writer, a theatre manager, a journalist, a lobbyist, a Congressional aide, a Constitutional rights activist, a feminist scholar, a full-time mom, a missionary Bible translator, a theatre historian, a burlesque star, and probably a few I can’t remember right now.

My sisters were easier. The Hippie has wanted to be a daycare teacher since age 5. She is. The Yuppie wanted to be a makeup artist (or as she put it in second grade, a cosmopolitician). She is a financial analyst of some variety and intends to do so indefinitely.

I, however, keep changing my mind. I always worry, what if there is a dream career out there that I haven’t found yet? What if I could look forward to going to work every morning? What if I am not as happy as I could be, and I’m just too lazy to try for something bigger? I am 31 and still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve been thinking about all of those “coulda beens” a lot lately. According to this article from the New York Times, I am focused on “lost possible selves.” If I had kept up with dance, if I had spent more time on my creative writing, if I hadn’t gone to law school, if I hadn’t changed my major…. all those coulda, shoulda, wouldas out there hanging out in the back of my brain. The article claims the best way to handle this is to think about the positives- what I gained by not following those courses.

The issue? Well, I’m starting to feel a little old to still be looking for a career. So many people around me seem so sure that they have made the right choices, that they will have to work to get to the top, but at least they know they love their field, or employer, or can live with it for the life it provides. Me? I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin sitting in my office. I think that might be a sign I need to move on, yes?

I went to “I Made It Mine,” a local funky craft show, this afternoon and walked around looking at all the booths, talking to people who made jewelry, stationary, letterpress cookbooks, screenprinted tees, scarves, pottery, and at one booth- crocheted eyeballs filled with catnip. It reminded me of a woman I met last year. She taught a writing workshop one weekend and talked about paying her bills as a bellydancing instructor, creative writer, novelist, journal maker, and writing teacher. And I was green- how would it feel to get up an do something different when the mood struck? To have that many parts of yourself to explore and the time to do it?

I still think about it. What if I just did it? What if I saved up for six months, traded in some of my stocks, and created a life I could live with? Freelance writing would be a big part of it. But what else? Maybe working in a small store- I actually miss retail sometimes. Finishing a masters degree so I could teach at the local community college. Crocheting, and journal-making, and collaging, and glass etching. Working with children in some way.

It sounds dreamy. It sounds like sleeping in until 10 am, and staying up late at night. Tapping away in the coffeehouse on my next masterpiece. Making things by hand. It also sounds terrifying- no regular salary, no health insurance, no guarantee of anything. But along with those guarantees, I am also guaranteed that caged animal feeling.

My fellowship is up in September. I need to figure out whether I want to stay. Seven months to decide which direction my life will take from this point forward. It’s scary. But all the woulda, coulda, shouldas don’t help. In the meantime, maybe I’ll give it all up and go back to the original plan.

Do you think 31 is too late to start my ballet career?

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Filed under Links, Soul Searching, Working for a Living, Writing