Operation Job Search

Art by Jeremiah Worley
Photo By: Jeremiah Worley
Vang Thao
After having a hard time finding a job, Vang Thao decided to join YWCA IMPACT, an organization that helps teens develop their skills and reach their full potential, which helped her get hired at YouthCARE Community Stars.
"Should I be picky about what I apply to, or is having a job I don't like better than no job at all?"

Is any job better than no job at all?

“Knock, knock!”
“Who’s there?”
“Orange who?”
“Orange you going to get a job?”

With summer just two months away, the dilemma of getting a job is at my doorsteps. But why am I interested in getting a job? To me, a job is all about gaining experience and learning new skills while earning money. Having a job means having money that I can use for many things, including saving it for college, going on family vacations in the summer, or helping my parents pay the bills.

Maintaining good grades in school and doing well at work are equally difficult. We have to show our teachers, employers and customers our ability to act maturely and responsibly. Having job experiences while in high school would put me more at an advantage for getting jobs when I’m in college because I would have something solid on my resume to show potential employers.

Just wishing for it is, unfortunately, not enough to get me a job. When I first started my job search, I did not have any professional help from teachers or advisers. Because of that, my chance of getting a job was really slim. Add that to the fact that most entry-level jobs have an age requirement of 16, and I am only 15, and that the positions are competitive, my chances of getting hired went down to almost zero.

Realizing that searching for a job without help wouldn’t work out, I joined YWCA IMPACT, an organization that helps teens develop their skills and reach their full potential. Because of that, I was able to build the materials necessary to get a job, such as creating a resume, cover letter and reference list. This helped me get accepted into a short-term job with YouthCARE Community Stars, where I gained more work-readiness skills and volunteered at important events.

I initially avoided applying to any jobs that involved the outdoors, like recreational or park jobs. Personally, I prefer the indoor jobs, like office jobs or any job that’s literature related, like working at the bookstore or library. But then, a question popped into my head: Should I be picky about what I apply to, or is having a job I don’t like better than no job at all?

I remembered a conversation I had with an older tutor from YWCA IMPACT. When I heard her reminiscing about her first job, I became curious. Why does it seem like it was easier for older people to get jobs when they were our age, but today, getting a job is a challenge for teens?

She replied that the economy was more stable when she was a teenager so there were more jobs available. But because the economy is kind of shaky now, older people are losing their jobs and taking the entry-level jobs. That means there are fewer positions and more competition. She also pointed out that people in her generation are retiring later, meaning that there are fewer jobs for people who just got out of college. These college graduates are also competing for the entry-level jobs I’m looking at.

I finally decided to apply to YouthCARE Community Stars, even though it mentioned working outdoors. I thought: Well Vang, here’s an opportunity to get out of your shell, try something different and add something to your resume. To top it all off, you get money.

During the interview, my crew leader asked if I would be willing to work outdoors. I mentally sighed. This was the question that I was stuck with. I decided to answer as truthfully as possible, even if it meant I probably wouldn’t get the job if they didn’t like my answer. My answer was something like, “I would prefer not to, but I think this is an opportunity for me to try something new and gain experience.”

The crew leader chuckled at my answer and said he probably wouldn’t schedule any work outdoors. I was relieved! Days later, I received a call from him and was accepted for the job.

At YouthCARE, I worked with other youth and learned job preparatory skills, such as time management, cultural awareness, budgeting and creating resumes.

On the weekends, we went to volunteer at places such as The Simpson
Housing (a shelter), where we packed lunches and the Blood Center, where
we placed letters into envelopes.

My job session with YouthCare is now over, but I’m continuing with YWCA IMPACT and applying for summer jobs through them.

Having this job experience and a resume were my first steps in entering the workforce. Getting professional help from YWCA IMPACT will also increase my chances of finding future jobs because I have all the things I need in hand. I am now more familiar with all the paperwork and trained in mock interviews.