The Wood Word

Talking to Strangers: Please Hire Me

Amanda Duncklee

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Hey, strangers. Do you remember when you decided to be born? Because I seem to forget that time I chose to be launched headfirst into this cold, capitalistic society in which my survival depends upon my ability to transform my hobbies and talents into marketable skills employers will deem worthy enough to give me money for until I collapse, weak and weary, into a tasteful wooden box.

I also forget that time I pressed the fast-forward button on my life and ended up a second-semester college senior: more realistically, the point in my life when I need to stop watching videos of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ live performances from two decades ago and start applying for jobs and scheduling interviews. This has proved difficult for two reasons:

1) I can’t stop my love for the Peppers
2) Stepping into the world of adulthood is scary

I consider myself kind of an adult. I’ve lived away from home for nearly four years now, so I have some independence in that regard. Financial responsibility means having the “We have food at home DO NOT stop at McDonald’s” talk with myself on the daily as well as begging my manager to let me go into work on a Saturday morning. A couple days ago, I ate a salad. By choice. Yeah, these are big things.

But, perhaps the biggest hallmark of adulthood is something that’s proved challenging for me: getting a job. As Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia so articulately put it, it’s difficult to “fire off into job land, where jobs grow on jobbies!” I actually have to spend time on LinkedIn, or circling backpages, or harassing my connections for their connections’ information. Being in a position where I’m not in control of whether or not someone likes me or deems my experiences worthy of employment is humbling- especially for someone who craves approval. Not me, per se: just someone, I’m sure.

It’s not that I don’t think I’m capable of finding a job willing to hire a recent English major who has above average people skills and is, like, really smart (hey, recruiters, this is the part when you strongly consider sending a message to the e-mail address conveniently located at the bottom of this column). It’s the anxiety of uncertainty, the fear of not living up to my potential and the fact that applying for jobs marks a tangible end to my college career.

Four years ago, a younger me applied to colleges. Or, maybe it was a me from a past life; things move too quickly for me to be certain time is linear and all my selves are me. Existential confusion aside, we’ve all got to grow up at some point, and I just so happen to be there.

By some beautiful gift of fate, someone found my LinkedIn profile and liked what they saw. She reached out via e-mail, and we scheduled a phone call to talk about the company she represents and the position she had in mind for me. If she heard my heart beat at an unhealthy rate or my stomach twist into knots like gnarled trees, she did the polite thing and ignored it. What she didn’t do, however, was ignore me. We talked about my schooling, life experience, what I expected from the job and what I expect from life. Come the end of our chat, she encouraged me to apply for the job.

It was a lovely conversation, and I learned a lot about the role and a couple other things, too. Talking to strangers doesn’t have to be entirely dreadful. The fear of failure can be used as motivation, but it doesn’t have to be crippling. It’s okay, reasonable even, to be scared of an uncertain future, but that doesn’t mean we should procrastinate or avoid what is to come. Like it or not, days get crossed off the calendar and years pass like months. I don’t know about you, strangers, but I’d like to roll with the times instead of letting them pass me by.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: my interview is next week.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

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