Saturday, April 17, 2010

The College Student Job Search

Why is it so hard to get a job? Rationalization and Suggestions from a College Kid

I'll be honest here: I haven't been in the working world very long. I mean, what do you expect? I'm 20. I worked for 2 1/2 years in a clothing store from the time I was 16 until I was 18. During that time I took on two separate jobs, one at an ice cream place and one at a dry cleaners. I returned to the dry cleaners last summer when I came home from college.

So, do I have a lot of experience in trying to get a job? No, not really. A pretty good amount for someone my age, but not a lot as far as the general American goes.

But I know one thing: it's freakin' hard to find work right now. I managed to have two jobs just a few years ago, and now I'd be lucky if I could find one. Which I can't. I've interviewed, sent out applications, looked on Craig's list, and so far... nada. To top it off, I'm looking for jobs in two different states because I could stay up at school or go back home. Still, nothing.

I applied to a coffee shop recently that said they were having "call backs" for interviews. They had so many people applying, they had to do call backs.

The economy is supposedly getting better, so what the heck is going on?

First of all, I think it's necessary to address the fact that we aren't really a production based economy anymore, we've made the transition into being a service economy. I know my mom worked in a factory during her summers in college, but there aren't really that many factories around in USA. We all know outsourcing exists and a lot of people here are suffering from it, and I think we all know that it isn't going to change. Unless the people who own the companies that do outsourcing decide they want to give up the cheaper labor for more expensive labor, we're stuck with the situation.

Second of all even though the economy is getting better, it doesn't take away the fact that a lot of people lost their jobs only a little over a year ago and now there's a whole lot of people competing for a small number of positions.

So what does it mean for us, the college students looking for summer work? Based off my not-so-scholarly experience of applying for places and not getting hired, I'd say we're kinda screwed.

What do we do? I can sit here and point fingers all day at outsourcing and the change to a service economy and the economic crisis, but that's not helping me. If you're looking for a summer job, here are my suggestions if the typical retail or waitressing job isn't panning out for you:

1. Summer Camps: Cannot stress this enough. I'm considering applying to one on Monday if my continued job search over this weekend proves fruitless. These jobs are good because they're seasonal yet steady for the season. Also, they want young people. They want college students. You can work in the dining services, with the kids, with the administration, etc. etc.

2. Babysitting: It's under the table, and even though the economy stinks parents still need to escape their children. If you get a nanny-type position you're set for the whole summer.

3. Tutoring: Good money for short amount of your time. Try posting an add on Craig's List. If you did well on your SATs this is a good place to start. Also, if you're in a major that's a subject in grade school (English, history, science, math) then you might be pretty set.

4. Census Bureau: Look to see if they're hiring in your area. The pay is great ($13-$15/hour!). I'm not totally sure what the work entails, but click here for more information.

5. Swimming Pools: If you're a lifeguard or have the capacity to be a lifeguard, these are also seasonal jobs that like to hire college kids. Unfortunately, I can't swim well at all.

6. Amusement Parks: If you can stand the crowds these have tons of different types of jobs. Everything from being a mascot character to operating rides to life-guarding the water parks.

7. Farms: The pay isn't always great, but low pay is better than no pay!

8. Odd Jobs: Offer to mow people's lawns. Seriously. And you get to be outside!

9. Ice Cream Places: Work goes fast in these places for the summer, but if you can snag one of these jobs you do really well in tips. Also, from what I know, the turnaround rate with ice cream can be kind of high sometimes, so it might be worth it to periodically check with your local ice cream place over the summer if you're still jobless.

PS: Have a suggestion for a summer job? Leave a comment and I'll update the list!

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