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Job Quest Success

by Nadya AgrawalUCLA

As a follow-up to an article I wrote before regarding summer jobs, I just wanted to share with you a few things I have learned since:

So, summer has officially started.  I got back from UCLA on June 8th, and by the following Tuesday I had secured two internships.  Let me tell you how.

Initially, I spent my entire Spring Break roaming around the tri-city area looking for a low-level job.  I picked up, filled out, and dropped off over three dozen applications without much response (with the exception of American Eagle Outfitters, who rejected me only a little after, and Forever 21, who did not call back after my stellar interview).  I signed up for a dozen internship websites and I shipped my resume off to company after company.  Still I got no response.  I felt completely horrible, undervalued, and useless.  I then wrote that lovely frustrated article.   Everyone I gave my application to, I conveniently forgot until recently, said I was applying earlier than they were used to and all the interviewers who interrogated me said they would have to hold on to my application till summer.  They would call me then, they assured me.

Well, I still cannot believe I fell for that.  I felt so confident that I was applying early, obviously showing off how on-the-ball I was.  Surely, I thought, employers would put a gold star on my application.  Wrong.  I was so wrong.  Employers rarely want to line up their summer workers in March, and promising to hold on to your application was just in case they could find NO ONE for summer.  It is also their only way to reassure you (so you do not break down crying in the middle of Forever 21).  So, be wary of that interviewer statement – it is equivalent to “I’m just not in a good place right now.”  Remember, to a summer employer, you are a safety net.

So, when I finished off March and moved into April showers and May midterms, I was still waiting for an actual and concrete job offer.  Blegh.  It was like waiting for a guy to call back – such a pathetic feeling.  Conveniently, I blocked out the sense of rejection with finals and before I knew it the quarter was done and I was home, still, with no job.  That is when I went into overdrive: I started emailing and Facebook messaging relatives and family friends who owned local businesses, asking if they needed help with ANYTHING AT ALL.  I started pouring over Craigslist want ads, feeling kinda skanky and definitely un-humored.  I sent my resume out over and over again to anything that looked interesting.  Surprisingly, a friend of my mother who owned a small business nearby offered me a marketing internship and a law firm from my Craigslisting marathon called me for an interview.  I subsequently landed that job as well.  So, here I am, home and comfortable with two lovely internships and a nice long summer ahead of me.

And that is my story.  Let me break it down for you:

1)      There is no real need to start applying more than a month before summer when looking for a summer job – odds are most employers will not be impressed if you are just looking for a seasonal position and they most likely will not be ready to start hiring for summer.

2)      If you want a particular low-level job (by which I mean sales associate at a clothing or department store, barista, etc.) call a month ahead of time and see if you can set up an interview for as soon as you get back from school.  Also, do not tell them you are seasonal.  This might make you uncomfortable, but there is no real harm in being a little vague about when you intend to stop working.  And it is not really lying – who knows what your financial situation will be come September?

3)      If you are looking for an internship, I strongly encourage you to ask around – ask family friends, ask family, ask friends, ask teachers, ask previous coworkers.  Do what you gotta do.  Internships are not easy to come by and the job market is hyper-saturated with out-of-work college graduates who are ready to take on low-paying or even unpaid positions in order to promote future careers.  Your competition for a given internship is high, so do not think of it as nepotism, think of it as an opportunity.

4)      USE CRAIGSLIST.  I promise you, it is so much more effective than the millions of internship websites out there.  You do not have to pay for it and the people who post job offers and ads on there are a tad bit more desperate to fill a position than whatever an internship website can dredge up.  Craigslist is very easy to search through for particular types of jobs and internships.  And it is also super simple to just work your way down a list of email addresses when you send out your resume and cover letters.  It is no skin off your back, believe me, for the level of response you get back.