Laura's Lines: A job is a lot more than workThroughout my 21 years of life I’ve had a number of interesting jobs. How in the world I’ve gotten myself into some of them, I have no idea. But I’ve managed to stumble into a few situations that often provide great stories in the future – no matter how rough I thought I had it at the time.
By: Laura Sukowatey, Hudson Star-Observer
Throughout my 21 years of life I’ve had a number of interesting jobs. How in the world I’ve gotten myself into some of them, I have no idea. But I’ve managed to stumble into a few situations that often provide great stories in the future – no matter how rough I thought I had it at the time.
After I transferred to UW-Eau Claire I decided I needed anti-virus for my brand new Macintosh laptop, so I went to the campus computer Help Desk. Somehow I walked out of there with a job interview even though my computer knowledge was seriously lacking (obviously because, as those of the Mac religion probably know, anti-virus really isn’t necessary for Apples). I’ve managed to keep my job at the Help Desk for over two years now and am slowly, but surely, becoming a computer geek.
When I studied abroad in Australia I worked for a short period of time for a charismatic marketing manager named Charmagne in a shopping center about a half hour away from campus. My two friends and I learned she was desperate for someone to take this job after explaining to her we didn’t have a method of transportation to get there. She said she’d take care of it and I soon found myself, an American who has never driven on the opposite side of the road before, driving her sister’s car to work every day. That job also consisted of wearing bright orange lipstick and slicking my hair down under a white baseball hat to look more “presentable” to the five-year-olds I handed out balloons-on-a-stick to. I have the pictures to prove this actually happened...not pretty.
Then there were the “temp” jobs. As many students my age have probably discovered, employers don’t want to hire you for only three months in the summer. Two summers ago I found myself applying everywhere, but getting nowhere.
After hearing from a friend about services that actually find jobs for you, I felt there was a light at the end of my jobless tunnel.
We applied at a place called First Site Staffing in Hudson on a Friday and were offered full-time positions at a warehouse that started the following Monday.
But after being informed by the manager I would need to bring safety goggles to work, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.
My first day at the factory I learned many things: I can lift more than five pounds, dirt isn’t poisonous and I look awful in safety goggles. But it was a job and I appreciated earning $9 an hour...as opposed to earning zero dollars hanging out with my dog all day.
The weeks went by and I was moving up in the world – I could run a staple gun and became skilled at operating the “glue pod” (as we called it) which was used to hold the carpet down on the fixtures we were making for Best Buy displays.
When I told my family about new adventures I had at work, they couldn’t fully comprehend how I, a wimpy girl, was surviving.
Well that I can explain and it’s not very complicated.
I toughed it out.
I had nothing to lose and I wasn’t going to find a job anywhere else. I learned the job was what I made of it and that there are people in the world who would be happy to have that opportunity, so why shouldn’t I?
I believe this subject is relevant because this summer the job market hasn’t been great for students. After reading through various other articles on this issue, teens say they’ve spent large amounts of time applying at stores and restaurants, but can’t seem to find openings.
I was curious to find out how the economy was affecting job agencies like First Site, so I spoke to Troy Hartman, the regional manager there. Expecting him to tell me they were, too, in a slump, I was shocked when he said in May they were frantically recruiting students: hanging up fliers and put out advertisements. The job demand was high.
Troy said it has slowed down a bit since then, but they usually have a job opportunity for everyone who walks into their office.
The job market might be slower in retail and restaurants for students, but he said he hasn’t seen the problem because they don’t get as many young people coming through their doors, even though they specifically recruit for them.
About 10 years ago he estimated over one third of their work force was students; today it’s less than 10 percent. The younger generation wants to work with technology, not manufacturing.
Troy said he enjoys hiring students because they are usually great workers.
“It’s good for them, it gives them cash flow and for most part immediate employment,” he said. “It also exposes them to a lot of different industries and how things are done.”
The St. Croix County Job Center in River Falls is similar to First Site, but they aim more at training young people to prepare them for the world of work.
The job center offers free programs which includes learning how to write a resume to proper interview etiquette. They are also in contact with employers and if someone has an interest in a certain field they may be able to find them a job that fits.
“There are jobs out there,” said Sara Benedict, Education and Training Coordinator at the job center. “They might not be the most desirable, but they’re still out there.”
Kids, if you need a job I don’t think it would hurt to look into First Site or St. Croix County Job Center.
While I may lightheartedly joke about my factory jobs, I feel I truly benefited from them. For one thing, it created a true motivation to continue my education and another it opened my eyes to industries that often get overlooked.
Luckily now I have enough schooling under my belt to be qualified for this great internship, but I will never forget my days of working as a temp. Sometimes when I see people at Best Buy testing out speakers I have the urge to proudly tell them I, Laura Sukowatey, helped build those handy fixtures holding the speakers into place...with a power drill and everything! But they probably wouldn’t believe me.