Pound the keys, not the pavement

Summer job hunting sure has changed since the last century

I haven’t been a teenager looking for summer work for a very long time, so it makes sense that any advice I recently gave my 16-year-old as she embarked on a search for employment would be charmingly old-fashioned.

Spoiler alert — it was. Only substitute “charmingly old-fashioned” with “the completely out-of-touch ramblings of a simpleton” and you know where this is all headed.

I drove her to the grocery store and told her to go in and ask to fill out an application. I lectured her about speaking up and I fired some hypothetical interview questions at her so she’d be prepared. I pointed her at the customer service desk and watched from a distance as she parroted back what I grilled her to say.

I may as well have been advising her on how to change the tyre on her penny farthing, chum, because the kid behind the counter looked confused by her anachronistic request. Evidently, all the applications are processed online now. It became clear that any advice I had given her would’ve been good if this was, say, 1985.

Next we tried stopping at an ice cream shop across town. When we pulled in to the lot, we spotted a help wanted sign in the window. Jackpot.

“Go ahead in,” I told her. “I’ll wait here.”

She came back out two minutes later with a big smile on her face and two scoops of chocolate with jimmies. No job, though.

“They said to apply online,” she said.

Of course I meant well, but I’ve been out of the dishwasher/grocery bagger game so long that it’s not like I could’ve helped much. If you ask me for job hunting advice, this is what you’re going to get:

  • “Make sure your piano key skinny tie is straight.”
  • “Here’s a quarter so you can play Defender on your lunch break.”
  • “Lock up your Kuwahara BMX when you get there.”
  • “Eat all your Super Sugar Crisp — you need a complete breakfast to get through your shift.”

My first job was washing dishes at a breakfast restaurant in Seabrook. I’d like to say it instilled a good work ethic, but it was run by horrible people and I just learned how to not treat people and to make awesome omelets.

Time has passed me by. Apparently it’s not efficient to hit the pavement and knock on doors, and even the simplest jobs start with an online application.

OK, future robot manager down at the laser factory, we’ll play by your rules.

Bill Burke, the uncrowned Omelet King of the Northeast, is a writer who lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife and teenage daughter — who he hopes will have a job by the time this hits newsstands. He is also managing editor of custom publications at McLean Communications.

Categories: Dad on Board