No job, I feel like a moron

A young letter writer is struggling to land their first job.

It sounds like you’re doing everything right, says our elder — it just takes time and luck.

Dear EWC

I’m struggling to try and get my first real job. I’m 19, and my highest level of education sadly is freshman year at a university. In high school, I was an assistant coach. I was a voluntary teacher for four years at a homeschooling co-op and while off at my school have been on the dean’s list getting pretty good grades. But I honestly can’t find a job anywhere for the life of me. I’m not being picky either. I’m totally down to work minimum wage night shifts at McDonald’s if that’s what it takes. Thankfully I have my parents who I’m staying with and if it really truly came down to it, yeah I’ll be fine if I fail to get a job this summer. I just feel like a moron who is leeching off their family. After school ended my family went on a trip for five nights. As soon as I got home, I applied online to nearly 26 jobs. I then went in person to 11 of those places yesterday, and 13 more of them today. It’s been almost two weeks since applying and I’m getting a bit frustrated watching my friends who I love and know can do their jobs, get hired making $12 an hour with no previous work experience and I’m here just like “Well, at least the bowling alley called to tell me they don’t want me.” What really killed my self-esteem was going on a Friday to have the hiring manager tell me he had a job for me. Come back tomorrow on Saturday at 4:00 to officially fill in the spot, so I come at 3:50 to be early thinking OK, he told me they had this job. It was cleaning dishes and wiping tables, but that’s fine by me. I show up. The guy I saw yesterday, who told me to show up at 4:00 today, told me, sorry they actually filled the position an hour ago. I’m trying my best to stay calm and hopeful. I’m trying to call these places a day or so afterward and I’ve gone to most of them in person to ask about my applications. I guess I’m going to just keep applying, praying, calling in and repeating until something comes up… Any advice on getting a job would be appreciated!

Folk replies

It may make you feel a little better to know that you are not alone. At one time or another, most of us have had to work just as hard as you are working now to get our first jobs. No one ever tells you that getting a job is a job in itself. One summer in fact, back when he was in college, my husband papered the walls of his bedroom with all of his rejection notices.

I know it’s discouraging to keep getting turned down, but I also know that if you hang in there, something will eventually break your way. You may have started your job hunt a little late this year. To make things easier on yourself, I suggest that you try applying earlier next summer — like when you’re home for Spring Break. That said, there are still a couple of things you can try to improve your chances of landing a job this summer:

1. Don’t give up. The positions you already applied for may all be filled right now, but people are always quitting or just not showing up, so it’s very possible that you could still wind up being hired by one of the employers who turned you down.

2. Don’t just apply to jobs that are advertised. Instead, go in person to all the businesses in your neighborhood, especially the ones that you and your family shop at. Talk to the on-site managers and let them know you (or your mom or dad) are good customers and then explain that you are looking for summer work. Be sure to let them know that you live close by and can be available on very short notice if someone calls in sick. If they say they have nothing available right then, go back in a few days and ask again. Keep on asking in a polite but persistent way.

Nothing impresses a potential employer quite as much as enthusiasm and perseverance, so show them you have both. Companies don’t hire people, after all; people do. So introduce yourself to managers, smile, shake hands firmly, maintain good eye contact, and let them know you want to work for them.

3. Use your connections — and your parents’ connections — for everything they’re worth. Ask friends and relatives if they know anyone who is hiring summer help. Most jobs are not advertised but filled through word of mouth. If you have any friends that have jobs, ask them to ask their employers if they could use any additional help.

4. Contact a temp agency and tell them you are interested in fill-in or day work. Let them know you are available immediately and that you are willing to serve catered events, clean, or do just about anything. Contact landscapers in your area and ask if they need any extra laborers for any big jobs.

5. Put up ads on bulletin boards at your local places of business advertising any services you are able to provide (like dog-walking, lawn care, garage cleaning, etc.).

6. Do volunteer work. Volunteer work can sometimes turn into paid employment, but even if it doesn’t in your case, it’s still valuable experience that can help you land another job.
I hope this helps. Try not to be so hard on yourself. It sounds to me like you are doing everything right. It just takes time and luck to get the first job is all. If you can, please write back and let me know when you land one. I will be here rooting for you.

Letter #: 441291
Category: Career

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