Thursday, November 02, 2017

Second Prompt – First Job (or…”We think you’re perfect for this job”)

This is my second article in the “Prompt” Series.  The prompt for this piece is merely two words…First Job.

I am struggling with what to exactly write.  After all, my first job after college was as an assembly engineer for Mitsubishi Semiconductor out of Durham, NC.  I was sent to Japan for two years to learn my craft; so obviously, this first job is a bevy full of stories.  However, if I were to recall my FIRST job, that would be as a lifeguard at Lakewood Swim Club while in high school and college.  At least this is the first job from which I received a paycheck…minus taxes of course.  But then again, my literalist side starts to argue that my very first job was mowing lawns in the neighborhood, especially for the one house across the street as the occupants moved and “hired” me to upkeep their lawn until their house sold.  This job could certainly create a story or two as the house was atop a riverbank and I spent as much time knocking down monstrous wolf spider webs in the back yard as I did actually mowing.  This was a stressful job for someone with arachnophobia.

All scenarios are worthy of a “first job” prompt, but my gut tells me to switch things up a bit.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently unemployed.  The ride I’ve ridden the last two months while seeking employment has been rather interesting.  It’s not like I haven’t searched for a job before, but after 20 years since my previous job search, things have changed quite a bit!

When I sought out my very first job as a lawn mower (before “landscaper” was a known term), I pretty much knocked on doors.  The only competition was from other kids in the neighborhood.  Honestly, I got the one job because I used to play with the family’s oldest son who was two years younger than me.  There weren’t many in his grade in the neighborhood so I believe the family “rewarded” me with the job.

My first paying job as a lifeguard was almost a default position.  I was on the swim club’s swim team since an early age…a regular pool rat.  Nearly every summer day was spent at or in the pool unless I was mowing a lawn.  It was nearly a rite of passage for those older “15 to 18” age group swimmers on the team to work as a lifeguard once earning their Water Safety Instructor certificate.  Once you earned that WSI badge, you were pretty much guaranteed a job of whistle twirling, trash collecting, restroom scrubbing, and sun tanning.

My first “adult” job was assisted greatly by my college career counseling service.  Companies from all over the east coast would visit the university seeking out college seniors to hire after graduation.  I interviewed with a couple companies without really having to reach out by myself.  All I had to do was look at the companies listed for the next week, sign up for an interview time, and show up.  This is how I introduced myself to Mitsubishi…not all that difficult.

About 9 years into my career I was laid off and had to seek employment on my own.  It was tough.  This was before the internet, so I spent countless hours in the library reviewing classified ads and microfilms of regional newspaper ads.  I remained unemployed (except through a temp agency) for about 16 months.  Eventually I found the job that would cement my career path for the next 20+ years.

A few months ago, a series of events and decisions took place that led me to my current unemployed status.  Once again, I faced the daunting task of finding a job, only this time I had a wife and kids to worry about supporting.  Oddly, I wasn’t worried. After all, I had years of experience and respect in my position as well as plenty of business contacts.  Plus we now had the internet which opened the world up to my fingertips.  Finding a job would be easy…right?

Almost immediately upon uploading my resume onto various job boards, I received notices of potential employment in my email inbox.  “Wow,” I thought, “this will be easier than I thought!”  Then I opened the emails.

“We’ve reviewed your resume online and feel that you would fill our needs perfectly as a sales consultant for Liberty Mutual Insurance….”

“My manager has authorized me to contact you to with an employment opportunity as a franchise owner...”

“Your resume has been reviewed by our Human Resources Department and we are contacting you for employment as a gift wrapper effective immediately….”

“Uber wants you….”

I was totally surprised.  And disappointed.  Jobs related to my actual experience and skills were not as easy to come by as I had hoped, but I never expected to be inundated with the “junk” job offers I received several times a day.  The offers extended into phone calls as well.  The phone would ring and my name would be mentioned followed by an inquiry as to whether I was still seeking employment.  My heart would race with excitement until I realized it was once again an opportunity for under employment.  Apparently I was perfect for so many jobs for which I had absolutely no skill set or interest, and yet not quite right for those positions that more closely matched my experience. 

The good new s is that I have been hired for a position and I start the job in a few days.  It’s a job with a familiar company from my past but in a different position, so there’s some nerves and excitement for something new.  I might not be the perfect fit at first, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be a heck of a lot happier that I would be with one of those other “perfect” jobs.

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