First jobs

“You’re only job is to be a student”

These were the words from my Mom that still echo today and Dad supported it. It would be the answer I’d get every time I wanted to get a job after school when I was in high school. Getting good marks and going to university was the mantra for their parenting. Given how we look at things these days and our present financial reality, it does seem dated.

I didn’t know what I’d do for a job; we lived in a small community so maybe packing groceries or something? Who knows? I didn’t have a plan. Now, I wasn’t destitute. There were periodic opportunities to babysit or catch turkeys but there was nothing steady or predictable. Except for my marks – they were pretty good!

This past Saturday, I went to a triple-header football event. Mic Mac Park,. with its two football fields, where the grandkids normally play was closed because Windsor was doing drive-through voting so we were to be re-routed to St. Clair College. That fell through because the football field had been transformed into a baseball diamond for a championship so we ended up at Tecumseh Vista School with its beautiful single field and limited parking. So, instead of playing 2-2-2, it was 1-1-1-1-1-1 for the games. We were in the 2nd, 4th, and 6th games. I brought a lawn chair and set it up for the duration.

It was about 10 degrees and windy. By the end of the first game, it was cold so I grabbed one of the football players to go with me to Tim Horton’s for a coffee. I don’t know Tecumseh well but I know that there’s just about one of everything at Manning Road and County Road 22. So did everyone else apparently with the long traffic line, so we parked and walked in to get our coffee. Right behind us, there was a young lady who had incredibly nice dreadlocks dyed alternatively red and purple. I probably wouldn’t have noticed her otherwise. She was holding a folder which seemed different for it not being a school day, but hey. I didn’t notice much else except the counter on the wall ticking away for each customer at the drive-through window and remember thinking that someone does a time and motion study as a job and the results impact performance at the store.

As we were about to leave, I noticed a Kentucky Fried Chicken store and decided to up my bid for grandfather of the year. “Do you guys like KFC?| “Heck yeah!”

So, we drove over and went in. In a couple of seconds, the young lady appeared again. I said to her “are you following us?” and got a nice smile. This time, in the small store, we were waiting for our order and I noticed her step to the counter after us and say “I’d like to drop off an application”. Ah, that explains the folder.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

We didn’t intentionally eavesdrop but they were right beside us. The guy at the counter was pretty good about it.

  • “I’m not the manager but I’ll take some more information,” he said as he looked at the mostly blank sheet of paper resume/application. He’d obviously been prepped on how to handle a walk-in applicant
  • “You don’t have any experience” and she replied confidently, “This would be my first job”
  • “When are you available?” and she replied, “4 until 11 during the week and anytime on weekends.” My Mom would have gasped. I was impressed thinking that she must have looked at the hours posted on the window as she came in

Our order came and we missed the rest of the conversation which was actually comforting because it was a little creepy being that close to them conducting business.

Driving back, I had one of those “you’re such a teacher” moments as I quizzed the football player.

  • “Do you have a resume?” – no
  • “Where would you go to apply for a job?” – I dunno
  • “When are you going to look for a job?” – I dunno, maybe next summer

Thankfully, he was not old enough to seriously look for a job yet but I couldn’t let the moment pass.

As I drove back to the game(s), I also thought about that young lady and kids in general.

  • She had the gumption to walk in and apply for a job unannounced. I’m not sure that I could have done that at her age or maybe even at my current age. I was impressed
  • She wanted money and this was the way to get some
  • With the economy being what it is these days, could a family even afford to let their child just be a student?
  • There are so many traditional approaches to applying for a job that just seem so outdated and yet it will be those who went the traditional route that will do the hiring
  • How do you get things together for that first resume and first job application?
  • How do you prepare for that first job interview when you’ve never done this before – I know that we did mock interviews in the Grade 9 Business class but do kids even take Business anymore? Hopefully, in the Careers course
  • I’m sure that there were a lot of applications in that folder and she was trying to hit all the places in the hopes of getting a job – here was a young lady with motivation and not waiting for the world to come to her – I made sure the football player noticed

It’s funny how that little moment got all kinds of things rolling around in my mind. It also made me realize that so many things are so different for job seekers now. There are so many jobs supposedly open and not enough people to fill them. Just based on her initiative and determination walking from store to store, I sincerely hope that she fits whatever someone is looking for.

I know that McDonald’s takes great pride in being successful in that first job for students. Read the story and you’ll see all kinds of positive takeaways. I hope that all businesses feel the same way.

It undoubtedly reads better on a resume than catching turkeys.


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