Friday, January 3, 2014

Too Good for a Job?

Here are the three stories I tell my kids, teenagers, and even adults when they tell me they can't find a job, or even better, they are "too good" or "too educated for a job."

STORY #1:  How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Through a potato field.

When I was sixteen years old, I auditioned for and earned a spot in my High School's top choir.  The choir had already been selected to sing in Carnegie Hall the following Spring. 
One problem. That trip would cost $1500 which was substantially more than I had made the last two summers working as a counselor at a Boy Scout summer camp.  I had made $100 the first summer, and $300 the second.
I now needed to make 5X that.

I asked around to all my friends and neighbors:  What job could a sixteen year old get that would pay $1500 in one summer?  The only answer I found was: Potato Roguer.

A what?

Exactly.  No one even knows what that is.  My job that summer was to arrive to work at 6 a.m., walk potato fields all day long in the mud and the heat with the sweat and sprinkler water and even pesticides dripping off me.  I was being paid to identify diseased potato plants and dig them up so that when the "purity inspectors" came through, the farmers would get a higher purity rating.

6 days a week for over 2 months - I walked from sun-up to sun-down with a shovel in my hands to dig out diseased potatoes.  The next spring... I was singing in Carnegie Hall.  The experience was amazing, and well worth two months of roguing.

STORY # 2: But I'm supposed to have a scholarship!

When I was a senior in high school I already knew my options for paying for college.  My parents told me long before that they couldn't afford tuition.  So I could either pay for it myself, or get a scholarship.

I decided to get a scholarship.

I figured out what ACT score and GPA I would need for a scholarship - and worked to get it.  My GPA ended up lower than I wanted, which means I needed a really high ACT score.  I had taken the test my freshman year - scored too low. I took a review course and tried again my sophomore year - still too low.  Junior year? - too low.  End of Junior year after another review course? -  still one point too low.

My senior year I was panicking. I took the ACT for a fifth time, but until the results came back, I was a nervous wreck.  I'd been accepted to the colleges I wanted, but all I had earned so far was "in-state tuition."  I already had a newspaper route which I did every morning,  It wouldn't pay enough for college.  So I got a second job washing dishes at Chili's.  I got up at 5:30 every morning to deliver newspapers, went to school all day (rehearsing for choir during my lunch hour) then went to track after school till 4:00 and then worked washing dishes from 5:30 p.m. till 1:00 a.m.

 - Luckily I didn't have to work like that for long.  My ACT score came back - and it was high enough for the full ride scholarship.  College was paid for, but only after being willing to work crazy hours for it.

STORY #3: What does a couple do with 2 bachelor's degrees while they're in medical school?  They deliver newspapers.

My wife and I had both graduated with our B.S. degrees a year before.  I was in medical school and my wife was raising our 1 soon to be 2 children.  We didn't have enough money.  The student loans for one med-student weren't enough to sustain of family of three.  So we started looking for side jobs.  Eventually she got a job substitute teaching in the elementary schools and I got a job as a valet at a country club, but what did we do for the month before we found those jobs?  We delivered newspapers.  230 of them every morning. 

What's my point?

Strive for the best jobs.  Study, get degrees, don't settle for less than you're worth.  BUT while on the journey - do what you have to do.  Work any job.  You're never too good for a job, you're only too good to stay there permanently. 


Bryan said...

Ride the cow; look for the horse.

Johanna said...

Thanks for the tips. I come on this blog sometimes, and I noticed that you're Mormon. In the Tiger Mom's new book, she lists Mormons as one of the 8 most successful ethnic groups in the country. Maybe Amy Chua is onto something about the Mormons. I saw a group of Mormon boys eating fast food in their slacks and button down shirts so I asked, "Do you guys know where I can get a Book of Mormon for free." One of the guys went to his car and hooked me up with a copy. Sweet. I have to say, the Mormons are a very organized group. They can get you a copy of their holy book in a snap. Now I just gotta read it...

On my way to being a more successful person! Next, I gotta study Chinese values, Nigerian, Indian....and all the others on the list.

johanna said...

TL,DR: thank you for sharing your values with me.