How to: get a job

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Sam Johnson

More stories from Sam Johnson

How to: summer
May 14, 2022
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Before our oasis arrives, I have some tips to ensure your summer is as enjoyable as possible.

It’s March, which now means even the most responsible UW-Eau Claire students are broke and looking for work.

If rent, food and monthly Spotify payments have drained your bank account, it’s time to start the job hunt. 

Retail

Retail is a good field because it gives you transferable skills and always has hours available.

Unfortunately, the pay usually isn’t great and you get treated like a second-class citizen.

Supervisors and patrons alike will do everything in their power to make you feel as terrible as possible.

Being a retail employee is like playing for the Washington Generals. Actually, it’s worse than that, it’s more like being the ball. 

You’ll get to see the worst of people, as complete strangers berate you for mild inconveniences. 

If you like standing for 10 hours a day, dislike being treated with respect and need money badly enough to do anything for it, retail is the place to be.

Food service

This is the area I have the least experience in, but most of my friends work in it.

Working in food service can be a stressful gig. If you work in a kitchen, be prepared for constant sweat and smelling like grease all the time.

The cheap or free food is a blessing for a while, then a curse forever. 

Never work at a place you enjoy, because you’ll ruin it for yourself by eating there every day and seeing how the sausage is made — sometimes literally.

If you work on the service side of things, you’ll have the same miserable experiences of retail, but with tips added to the equation.

Sometimes, you waste 10 hours with nothing to show for it and sometimes you make hundreds of dollars in a few short hours.

Tips are a good way to stay motivated to work hard, but sometimes all your effort earns you is pocket change and anger issues. 

If you can handle bad tippers, impatient people and carrying a tray in the most awkward positions imaginable, food service will work for you.

Manual labor

Biggie Smalls said, “don’t be mad, UPS is hiring.”

He wasn’t lying. Manual labor jobs are always hiring. I’m guessing it’s because there’s a high turnover. 

Manual labor jobs are awful, which explains the impressive and enticing hourly wages. 

You can make a livable wage by spending four hours doing what a forklift could do in 15 minutes. 

Either you wake up at 4 a.m. or go to bed at 4 p.m., your muscles, joints and bones hurt and you’ll never see your friends again. 

Being a manual labor employee is essentially a preview of life as a senior citizen. 

If you can handle aging 100 years older in a matter of days, being nocturnal and having no social life, give manual labor a try. 

Childcare

This one seems like a good idea, and often, it is. 

I spent most of high school and college working in childcare and I’ve enjoyed myself. 

Kids are cute, fun and rewarding — sometimes.

A few warnings before their cuteness and joy draw you in:

Kids will do whatever it takes to annoy you. 

They’re messy and unsanitary. 

They make every mistake possible constantly and repeatedly.

If you have thick skin, a strong stomach, a stronger immune system and enough patience to reach the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop, you’ll be fine. 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what job you have. Unless you get really lucky, you’ll probably hate it most of the time. 

Look on the bright side, awful work experiences now will make you enjoy your post-graduation job seem like a breeze. 

If you’re broke, you need to work. The most important thing is to find something that doesn’t stress you out too much with coworkers you can complain to. 

Johnson can be reached at [email protected].