The Mom of No: Get a job


The Mom of No

The Teenager has decided it is time to get a part time job. Part of this is probably due to her fondness for hanging out at Starbucks with her friends to study. All that hot chocolate and all those snacks cost money, and her allowance isn’t going as far as it used to. I am the Mom of Frugal, and it seems like my entire paycheck goes to buying shoes and groceries, so no raise will be forthcoming from the Bank of Mom and Dad.

The other night, she sat down at the kitchen table to start filling out job applications. When I was a teenager looking for a job, I went to the mall and visited all my favorite stores, asking who was hiring and could I have a job application, please. Evidently now it’s all done online. Not being particularly extroverted, I would have much preferred the online method myself, but obviously that wasn’t available back in the 1980’s.

As she worked her way through the job applications, she started asking me the questions they were asking her, hoping for some great mom advice on the perfect answers to job application questions. Unfortunately, the questions they were asking stumped me, too. Honesty is always a good policy, but when you’re filling out a job application, it can make the process somewhat difficult. Also, it’s been a long time since I have filled out a job application. I have no idea what the current “correct” answers are.

For example, there’s that classic question, “Why do you want to work at [insert name of business here]?” If you’re a recent college graduate looking for your first full-time job, you might do some research on the organizations you’re applying to work for and develop some insightful answer about how you like their approach to solving consumer problems, or you admire their emphasis on research or that they offer a quality product. At least, that was the advice I was given back in the olden days.

But if you’re a 16–year–old high school junior looking to work at (insert name of chain restaurant here), what is the best way to answer that question?

“I don’t know,” I finally admitted, after mulling it over for a few minutes. “Tell them that your grandfather really likes to eat there,” I said. That seemed like as good a reason as any. The real reason she was applying there was because a friend of hers worked there, but that might not be the best thing to put on the application: “I want to work here because my friend works here.”
I could tell from her body language that she wasn’t overly impressed with my suggestion. Also, I suspect that her grandfather likes to eat at this particular restaurant because senior citizens get free coffee, not necessarily because of the quality of the food. He is extremely loyal to his senior citizen discounts.

“What about skills?” she asked. “The application is asking me what skills I have.”

Somehow, “My mom says I am the best clarinet player she knows,” doesn’t seem like the right answer, either.

When she finally gets an interview, I wonder if they’ll ask her that other classic, “Tell me your weakness.” I’m always tempted to say, “I have a really weird sense of humor and a lot of people don’t get it,” but that doesn’t seem like something you’d want to hear from a potential employee. If The Teenager asked me to name her weakness, it would be that, from a parental point of view, her room could be cleaner and more organized. That probably isn’t the correct answer, either.

Soon, hopefully she will have the part time job of her dreams, and then we can move on to adult work–related life lesson #201: Your paycheck is less than you thought it would be, and that is a sad story.

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