I Applied To 16 Summer Jobs, and Here's What I Learned

Through the end of high school into the beginning of college, finding a summer job was really simple. I spent several summers as a camp counselor at the same day camp I went to throughout my childhood. Once I felt I had gotten too old for that job, I worked a summer at my favorite frozen yogurt store about five minutes from my house. I entered this summer thinking that finding a summer job is easy (at least from my experience).

News flash: it's harder than ever before.

How hard exactly? I had to travel to 16 places to work including the same place I worked last summer, four ice cream shops, three pizzerias, two salad places, two bakeries, one food store, one smoothie bowl joint, one Mexican fast food restaurant, and one waitressing position at a restaurant before I actually got hired. I filled up my tank of gas and used half of it in one day.

Yet many miles driven (and gallons of gas) later, it's safe to say I got something out of the experience because it gave me a taste of the job market. No, these jobs are not in the corporate world that I'm entering post-graduation, but they provided a model of the reality of the job market.

First of all, persistence is extremely important.

If I didn't score a job, I wasn't going to have spending money for the semester, which would include the expenses of having my own apartment. So if I didn't get 5 of the jobs I applied to, or 10, or 15, I was going to have to continue my search. This ordeal was frustrating (to say the least), but I learned the importance of the "try try again" mentality. Persistence doesn't only apply to these smaller jobs. In fact, more than ever, it'll matter in the bigger job market which is far more competitive.

Also, the world is changing (and maybe not for the better).

The world is becoming much more electronic and not necessarily for the better for us who just want a little money from the summer. With the rise of GrubHub and DoorDash, there is less of a need for people working in food service. Most stores have online shopping that keeps us from having to go out--but also can keep many of us from landing a job in retail. The world is becoming almost completely digital which is benefitting those of us who want to work in technology after college, but not benefitting those of us who aren't at that point in our lives.

But, most importantly, not getting a job is not a negative reflection on any of us.

This statement is true for these little summer jobs but even truer when we're searching for a permanent career. I had experience working a very similar job to the ones I applied for, my applications indicated I was a good student, my availability was extremely flexible, but it wasn't enough. Some places wanted full-time, permanent employees. Some places wanted only applicants who had previously worked there. Some places just weren't hiring.

And when we're in the corporate world with our many marketable qualities--from great grades to experience in the field to campus involvement, we will still sometimes be told "no." We may be told "no" many times for numerous different reasons. In fact, I wasn't hired for an internship this summer because I was "too qualified." So we should stop believing we aren't enough because in many cases we're not. The job market is tough, but we are tougher.

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