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The Hardest Part of a Summer Job Is Finding One

How do you get experience if no one will hire you without it?

May 24, 1997|LISA HILL | Lisa Hill is a sophomore at Calabasas High School

There is a place in limbo between school and the working world. It is called "experience necessary." I just turned 16 and started searching for a summer job, but every place that was slightly interesting required that I have experience. How do they expect someone who has been going to school with intense classes for the last 10 years to have had time to work small jobs? How was I to work these jobs in the first place if I needed experience to get them?

My dream, despite many lectures from my parents, has always been to act. That is quite possibly the most difficult job in the world to obtain. Having to contend with every other wanna-be in the world, one has to either be 18 but look 10, have a close relative as the director or have been constantly on a set since birth. I decided to put off acting for another year.

Another goal of mine was to be a reporter for a local paper. My parents suggested I try to get an internship. After all, who would turn down someone willing to work without pay? If I were running a business, I would hire as many interns as I could. I asked a neighbor who works at a newspaper about internships there. I was completely shocked when she told me they didn't hire anyone who was not 18, a college student and/or who has some newspaper experience. If a company is that selective about who delivers mail for them for free, imagine trying to get a paying job there.

The summer job situation was starting to look hopeless. I was actually starting to consider my worst fear: summer school.

A most unexpected incident rescued me from the "experience necessary" pit. I was talking to my Hebrew teacher about possible Jewish experiences over the summer when he mentioned that he knows directors of many camps. He gave me a formidable list of their numbers and I started dialing.

While being a counselor wasn't the summer I had envisioned, it did offer a chance to be outdoors instead of some stuffy restaurant or retail shop. I also realized it would be fun to spend the day sharing my love of the outdoors with children. Of course there was the ever-important possibility of making some money while I was at it. There was one nerve-wracking hurdle left: actually getting a job.

It felt as if I had called at least 50 people before finding someone willing to interview a 16-year-old. At last, a friendly voice answered one of my messages, saying he would like to set up an interview with me.

"Oh, no," I thought, "my first interview." I was seriously stressing beforehand, as I quickly whipped up a resume of everything in my life that seemed even remotely relevant. Fortunately, all that sweat seemed to do some good. He seemed very impressed that I had taken the time to write a resume. He called three days later to tell me the job was mine.

There's just one problem left: While camp counseling this summer will be great, it doesn't give me the "experience necessary" in the fields in which I'd really like to work. So next summer, it's back to pounding the pavements.

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