Every year about this time, I get kind of a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s the time of the year that tens of thousands of young people will be looking for their first jobs. And even though it’s been years since I was in that position, my past lingers.
Simply put, finding your first part-time job or summer job is no fun. It’s disorienting. You feel inadequate and unwanted. And, it can get frustrating working up the courage to approach business after business only to get no response.
This is no job for wimps. Or kids. This is hard work, heavy lifting that should be reserved for someone who can handle it better.
Still, the burden falls to each of us to go out and lock down that first job. There’s no escaping that. And there is no easy road map. You might work with your school counselors who can steer you in a particular direction or help you line up a paid internship. More often, though, you are left to your own devices to figure out how to get a job.
Your first step is to identify what type of work you want to do. You might not even know – and that’s fine – because this is a learning experience. Even if you do know, you might be surprised by what kind of unanticipated opportunities come your way.
To look for any job, you should have a good handle on the skills you possess. If you are a teenager looking for that first summer job, you might have very primitive and undefined skills, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a job. It just means your skills have yet to develop, and don’t be ashamed of that. Everyone goes through this.
Most people will look around them to discover what kind of jobs their friends are getting and then limit themselves to that same world. There is no reason to do this. Every business needs help, and it’s your job to sell yourself to the business to fill a certain need. But to do that, you need to assess the needs of each business. Again, that is easier said than done.
In a perfect world, employers want to hire teens who have already had jobs and proven that they can work hard and show up regularly. But we all have to begin somewhere. Employers also know this from their own experience.
In the end, your job-hunting skills might not account for much. You might get hired because you are available, willing to work, have a positive attitude and dress appropriately. But if that is the way you get in the door, don’t knock it.
It also doesn’t matter if you land a job because your uncle has a small business and needs some help. What matters is that once you land a job, you will experience the good and bad days at work. And, most of all, you will learn that you will survive them both and have a chance to do it all over tomorrow.
That’s a lesson you’ll find to be invaluable.