Learn to love the chase
By Kate Holden
This past weekend I found myself knee-deep in compost behind my parents’ shed searching for the lost coffee filter, for the sake of a few dollars reward money if found. Most students will, I think, identify with this. Our financial circumstances seem to be always teetering on the edge of catastrophe, keeping us watchful for opportunities to make some money at any cost.
Of course more secure employment is desired, and since the majority of Memorial students are working through their degrees, there is a demand for student employment. But like searching through the decaying remnants of a year’s table scraps, searching for a job can leave you nauseated and often empty handed. So how do you filter through the garbage and find that perfect job? What are the obstacles students face in finding employment that fits their needs?
Sometimes (and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed this) it seems that students or “youths” are all clumped together as a lazy, good-for-nothing, feces-flinging pack of baboons. It’s almost to the point that calling someone a “youth” is an insult. I actually heard a woman on the radio recently in a discussion about students say that we “lack common sense.” If that’s the case, who would ever trust a student to do anything, much less pay them?
As I have been looking for employment myself for an embarrassingly long time, I’ve been wondering what kind of effect this sentiment has on students when looking for work. I like to think that the majority of us “youths” are stand-up, hard working people; people with passion, fresh perspective and ingenuity that might be lacking in our more jaded counterparts. But for some reason that’s not what usually comes across during the interview process. The word “student” seems to set off alarm bells in the minds of most employers.
However, there is still hope. There are some businesses that seem to be perpetually hiring, eager for student employees and willing to offer attractive benefits to entice them. Isn’t that a healthy attitude? Since us “youths” not only represent a huge portion of the market, but also occupy the majority of these service-industry type jobs, why not at least make us think that we’re valued? And if we feel valued aren’t we more likely to stay at a job longer, contribute more and take pride in our work? It’s a win-win situation: students get rewarding employment that helps supplement their income and employers get dependable staff.
There are few things more disheartening than a long, drawn-out job hunt. It’s like the dating scene – sometimes no matter how low you set your standards, no one returns your calls. But rather than resolving yourself to an evening of self-loathing and Bridget Jones, it’s far more productive to prepare for the next round. The more effort you put into a job hunt, the shorter your hunt will likely last. Of course we all know the major mistakes people make: job-hunting in your pyjamas, sounding too desperate or not desperate enough, etc.
These are fumbles we’re all aware of, but there are lots of more subtle mistakes that can send the same impression without your knowing. And just like in your favourite romantic comedy, the bad guy doesn’t get the girl – or in this case the job.
Luckily there are some great resources available here at Memorial that can help us avoid the obvious and not-so-obvious deal-breakers. I’ve just recently discovered the Centre for Career Development and I’m pretty sure in so doing I’ve found what’s been missing in my life. The staff are super friendly and understanding, but also honest. They will help you with anything you can imagine to do with finding and securing that perfect job and choosing the right career path. Accessing these free resources can really give you a leg up on the competition, not just when finding a short-term job, but also when choosing the right career path.
While some of the job hunt does feel like it comes down being in the right place at the right time, remember that luck is only what happens when preparation meets with opportunity. It can be gruelling, but take solace in the fact that it’s probably preferable to be a student now during these “tough economic times.” It would be a whole lot tougher to be out there trying to start a “career.” You’re probably only looking for a fun summer fling, not the love of your life, so try and hang on to those remaining shreds of your dignity and learn to love the chase.