Putting Yourself Out There

As a twenty-one-year old with one year left in college, I feel like all I ever hear about is people complaining about jobs. Whether they’re complaining about not being able to find one, bitching about the one they already have, or worrying they’ll never find a ‘real’ one – someone’s always talking about it.

Well, to the person my age complaining about their unemployment: let me be the first to shut you up. I understand there is so much pressure to find the perfect internship or the impressive undergrad job, trust me. However, if you’re completely unemployed and all you’re doing about it is sitting and home and whining, then my advice to you is to get a grip, and put yourself out there.

As an only child, I’d always feared the ‘spoiled’ stereotype, so I got my act together and started applying for after-school jobs when I was fifteen. I must have applied everywhere I could thing of: multiple grocery stores, pharmacies, retail stores, and so on. My first interview ever was with CVS. I had no idea how I was going to get there if I did get the job, because it was pretty far away from my house and I couldn’t even drive yet. My aunt drove me to the interview, which was held in a literal closet, and I don’t remember a single thing they asked me. I didn’t get the job, anyway. But that didn’t stop me, because I was determined, and I knew I had to keep trying. My next interview was at Walmart, where I ended up working as a cashier for four years. However, at first, there was a small hiccup in my hiring process. The woman who interviewed me had overlooked my birth date, and called me back in the middle of the school day after she had hired me (I’d done my drug test already and everything) to tell me that Walmart didn’t hire anyone under eighteen. I explained to her (in the bathroom, during homeroom) that she couldn’t hire then un-hire me, especially after I had taken my drug test and filled out all my forms. Later that day, she called me back and told me that I could still work there, just with a few restrictions (such as not being able to work past a certain time of night, not being able to sell cigarettes, etc). Before I knew it, I had become the youngest Walmart employee in New England. My friends still make fun of me to this day for working there, likely because I referred to myself as the “Face of Walmart” (something you’re told when you’re training to be a cashier there), but that job was the foundation of my independence.

A year later, at sixteen, I was chosen out of a group of high school aged finance students to work as a summer intern at a credit union, which quickly advanced to my position there as a full-time teller. I worked there for three years. Then, last summer, I was hired as an intern for a law firm. I had applied the previous year for a summer job at this firm, but they couldn’t offer me a paid position at that time, so I had to continue working at the bank instead. As you may have read in a previous post of mine, this job wasn’t exactly ideal. In fact, working in the basement of that law firm still haunts me to this day. It had nothing to do with the firm itself, because when I got to go upstairs (very infrequently, I might add) I enjoyed the time I spent there and felt that the attorneys and staff were actually quite welcoming. However, the majority of the time I spent at the firm was in a dusty, dirty, old, leaking, rodent-infested basement removing staples from files from the 1940s before throwing them into a bin to be shredded. But, if I had never had this job, then I would not have been able to get to where I am now.

During my last week of work at my old firm, I was finally able to spend some time upstairs (and out of the disgusting basement). I realized that I did like working in an environment like that, and that I didn’t want to go back to working anywhere but a law firm. So, I Googled “big law firms in Hartford” and started searching. By the time that week was over, I had sent my resume to over twenty-five firms in Connecticut, in an email entitled something like possible intern/secretary position. None of these firms had posted job openings, so I just searched for whoever was listed as human resources on their staff page, and sent my resume their way.

The first week I was back in Hartford, I already had an interview. The firm was only five minutes from my school, located in the tallest building in Connecticut, on the top floor. As soon as I walked in, I had to talk myself out of being intimidated. The office was beautiful. I was interviewed by two women, one was not much older than me, and the other was seemingly her boss. The older woman directed the younger one, Olivia (who I later became good friends with), to take me to a conference room and wait for her. The first thing she said to me was that she had only been working there for a week, and she didn’t even know where that room was. I immediately felt so much better. Once the other woman returned, she told me that she received my email the morning after she had been telling her own daughter to put herself out there and do exactly what I did: send emails to random people in hopes that they respond and want to hire you. I was offered the position on the spot, was told that I started the following Monday, and that I would be paid almost double the amount I had previously made at my other jobs. As I walked out of the building, I couldn’t have been happier with my new job, and it hadn’t even begun yet. Even months later, when I was still sitting at work two hours past the time I normally left because one of my attorneys had a closing the next morning, I was still happy with my job.

A few months later, I was looking for an internship, so I headed to the Internet to search again: legal internships in Connecticut. The first link that popped up was to the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s website, where I found a huge listing of possible internships. I sent my application, was invited for an interview, and was hired on the spot again for a position with Support Enforcement Services. I sat in on court hearings twice a week and helped noncustodial parents learn how to deal with their child support issues. Because I put myself out there and found this internship, I am now able to refer to three different Connecticut Magistrates as friends of mine.

I am confident that everyone who is complaining about not being able to get a job is simply too lazy, too picky, or lying about trying. All it took me was a Google search, literally. A friend of mine knows a boy who is unemployed at the age of twenty-four, with no car, and no license. I was shocked by this, because he had told her he wanted a job, so I told her to send me his address and I would find him one. With one search, I found twenty open positions in an area that he could walk to from his house, all requiring no prior experience. These jobs were at places like Panera Bread and Home Depot, so he instantly rejected all of them. Now, in my opinion, these jobs are much more highly regarded than working as a Walmart cashier (or standing by the door while handing out stickers and asking if customers wanted to apply for a Walmart credit card). To me, making money on your own is much better than sitting at home and complaining about it, no matter which unfavorable establishment you’re working for, so I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t even give it a chance.

When he rejected the help I wanted to offer him, I was pretty annoyed. How can you complain about not having a job, and then have someone find you twenty open positions, and not even apply to a single one? No one is too good to start somewhere. And, also, no one is going to go from unemployment directly to a stellar high-paying job that you’re obsessed with. You have to put in some sort of effort.

I completely understand that it is rare to be hired during an interview, and that the experience I have had with this doesn’t happen for everyone. But this past May, someone close to me was looking for a real-life job after graduation, and was having trouble building his resume and starting his job search. So, while I was bored at work one day, I made him a resume, found a few positions in the field that he was interested in, and sent it to about six employers. By the time I was out of work, he had already received two calls from human resource managers looking to set up an interview. He was so surprised, because he didn’t have any previous experience  in this field, and therefore wasn’t expecting these employers to give him the time of day. This shows that if you put yourself out there, good things can come of it.




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