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J – Jobs

A-Z Survival Guide to Life

J – Jobs

This is the tenth installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys (now I really far behind – but not defeated – yet).

“J” kind of stumped me.  I thought of all kinds of things, “Judgement”(don’t judge others) or “Just Don’t”(don’t ever ask a woman if she is pregnant, unless the newborn is actually crowning and your volunteering to help to deliver the baby) but I didn’t want to get preachy and both of those subjects were leaning towards that.  “Jobs” seems like something really practical and useful to cover for future reference (hopefully not too far in the future).  Here are some thoughts on jobs, how to select one, how to obtain a job and how to keep a job.

It’s going to be so great having a job – It’s a funny thing, working for a living.  As a teenager, you spend your time thinking how great it would be to be out on your own, living in your own house, buying your own food, setting your own schedule.  In High School, you think nothing could be as awful as sitting in various classrooms for 6 hours out of your day listening to endless droning about topics that don’t seem applicable to your life.  But actually, that is not true.  There is something much worse.  And that is, working in a thankless job, for minimum wage with no way out.  High School is only four years.  Unless you strike it rich, you will be working most of your life.

Be creative, innovative when looking for a job – Sometimes you have to take the first job that comes along, because you need a job, but if you have time and resources, be selective in the job hunting. Think about your skill sets and see if they can be applied to a variety of different types of jobs.

A job can just be a job, or it can be an adventure – I took a temp job once through an agency during a summer break from college. My first assignment was with a real estate development company as a receptionist.  I was bored out of my mind in just under 3 minutes.  I asked the owner if there was something I could do while waiting for the telephone to ring.  He said he had tons (literally) of fill-dirt he had to dispose of, and I could spend my time trying to figure out how to get rid of it without it costing the company a boatload of money. It took me several days, but I convinced the owner of a nursery in a nearby town that he really needed it.  I was then given the job of supervising the transportation of this fill dirt from the building site to the nursery, where they had a huge gaping hope hole that needed to be filled. I hired the dump trucks and drivers.  I caught the drivers stopping at 7-Eleven, and had a few words to say to them (we were paying them by the hour).  It was great fun and in the end I was given the responsibility of coordinating all the subcontractors for the construction of the houses.  And this all came from asking for something to do to keep occupied.

Of course, the majority of jobs are going to require some type of experience, and this can become a really frustrating part of job hunting – because you can’t get experience without having a job, but you can’t have a job without experience. Talk about a Catch-22.  Hopefully you will come across an employer who is willing to take a chance on you, and provide training.  This is where the job interview comes into play.

It’s all in the interview – The job interview is where your potential employer gets to ask questions about yourself, your experience, and your future plans. Be very honest.  Here it is important to point out that you shouldn’t embellish your resume, or twist the truth during the interview, because most employers will see through that. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not.  If you do get hired, you will not be able to keep up the pretenses for long.

Be on time for a job interview. Get hired before you show them how clever you are at making up excuses for your tardiness (not that I speak from experience or anything).

When I applied for this job I presently have, it has been 10 years now – I honestly didn’t think they would call me. I had the licenses and the education but not the specialty experience.  But I applied for it anyway.  We were in Phoenix at the time. It was early summer, and the thermometer was already cresting out over 110 degrees mid-day.  You two were planning a sleep-over for that Friday night.  We had gone to the store to get ice-cream and were tickled pink that the Breyers ice cream was on sale.  We returned to the car, and with the air-conditioning straining on full blast, I received a call from the hospital where I had applied.  It was the Division Chief and he wanted to talk. I said I couldn’t talk right then, because we had just bought two gallons of ice cream on sale for a sleep-over that night.  I think I must have been delirious from the heat or perhaps on some kind of weird high from purchasing ice cream on sale.  I told him it was blazing hot, and we had to get the ice cream home before it melted (we had about a 7 minute window to do that).  After getting the ice cream home still in a somewhat solid state, I did call him back.  And the rest is history.  Several years later, my boss and I were talking about the ice cream incident, and he said because non-melted ice cream and sleepovers were a priority to me, he knew I was a perfect fit for a very special Pediatric Hospital.  And I am so glad that he saw that in me, because the job I have now, is probably one of the best I have ever had.

So as trite as this sounds, be yourself. Be who you are, because no amount of feigning and pretending to be someone else will ever triumph over the truly interesting individuals you are right now.

Do your research before you go to the interview. Find out what the company is about, what their goals are.  Interviewers like this kind of stuff.  They appreciate that you cared enough to prepare for the interview.

In some interviews, especially as you get more advanced in your career, there will be an entire group of people interviewing you, all at once.  This can be pretty nerve-shattering.  And most of these people will really fancy themselves, and think they are so much better than you are.  If you feel these people are stiflingly full of themselves – run, as fast as you can.  Because this is probably their best behavior – and it will only get so much worse after you become one of their co-workers or employees. Remember, the interview is for you to find out about the people you might potentially be working with or for.  So go with your gut instinct on this one (see Gut Instinct).

Keeping a job – This is pretty obvious. Do what is expected of you, plus more. Go home from a day of work, knowing that you did the very best you could.  Don’t be a slacker.  Don’t expect others to do your job.  Avoid office politics.  Avoid the people that like to start stuff, the toxic people who like to talk behind people’s backs, pitting co-workers against one another.  And the less people know about your personal business, the less information they are able to use against you (My Mum told me that years ago, and boy, was she right – again).  It sounds kind of paranoid, but trust me on this one.

Sometimes it really sucks having to get up and go to work every single day, day in and day out. There are no summer vacations to look forward to, no Christmas breaks, pretty much no breaks at all.  But doing something you love to do will help. Even in the best job, there is monotony – but you have to have the valleys to have the hills, and it sure beats the hell out of not having a job at all.

Oh and remember – even if you are self-employed, you will still have a boss of some kind, unless you are a shepherd, with goats – I don’t think goats are too demanding, except maybe they like one grassy plain over another.  I don’t know.

Someday, this will all make sense (or maybe not).

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