Stephanie Joiner

Freshman Seminar 2010

Careers and Jobs

It is pretty obvious that careers have changed a lot over there years in the area of requirements and expectations. Like in the “I Love Lucy” episode, women used to look for jobs in a very different way than they do now. They got all dressed up, wore gloves and hats, and went down to an employment office and just asked for a job. Then the person working the office just read through a list of jobs and asked which one they wanted and were qualified for. Now, if a woman wants a job, she does the same as a man would do. You go to the job you would like to have, ask or an application, fill it out, turn in in, maybe have an interview, and hope that they call you back saying that you got the job. Like with any job, at any time, however, different jobs have different expectations. Of course, if you were going to work as a garbage collector you wouldn’t need to dress up to apply for the job. However, if you were going to be a secretary, office worker of some kind, or teacher, for example, you would want to dress nicely to apply for the job, so that the company of business got a good first impression. This standard dress code also continues through to when you actually get your job. A school principal, for example, dresses up for work every day, while say a designer has more freedom to dress as they choose. Besides just common dress rules, each job also has different work expectations. I have come to realize this a lot this year, because of my very different work experiences over the summer, and now, during school. For two years I worked as a lifeguard in my hometown. Now, during college, I work at Office Depot. The two are so different its not even funny. Of course there are the obvious differences, like the fact that I was guarding water, outside, and now I am a cashier, inside. But if you dig deeper there were many more unrecognized differences. The most shocking difference was the expectations. My boss at the pool was so forgiving and easy going. He really could care-less what you did. You pretty much had to beg to be fired to get fired. If you just didn’t come to work you could just not come, as long as you found someone to come in for you. You never even had to check in or tell anyone you were switching your hours, you just did it. And most of the time you didn’t even have to find anyone to work for you because people really wanting to come to work would just come in, knowing that someone wouldn’t show up or would want to leave. Also, since you never checked in, you just wrote your hours down on a sheet, and I’m sure they never checked into them to see if they were right. They probably lost a lot of money due to incorrect hours. Of course while you were actually on stand guarding the water it was very serious and you were very concentrated, but when you were on break or working the office, you could pretty much do whatever you wanted. Leave and come back, eat, read, listen to music, sleep, whatever. The job really required nothing of you when you weren’t on stand. Also the dress code: there was none. I came to work everyday in shorts and a t-shirt; Your a lifeguard your not supposed to be dressed up. You just wear a swimsuit all day! However, when you are on stand, guarding your water, it can be one of the most stressful jobs there are. We have just as much training as any EMT, and you have no idea how scary it is to think about actually having to use that training! No one wants anything to happen in their area, and seeing some of the early signs developing, like a young child beginning to struggle, is one of the scariest things ever. In the same aspect, however, it is extremely comforting and makes you feel really good to know that if anyone needed any kind of help, you knew exactly what to do to help. The job, while having its disadvantages, also had a large amount of advantages. Another thing that is different from most jobs was my boss. He was just like everyones’ best friend. We all hung out together on the weekends and joked around with each other like we were all the same age. All of these experiences I had as a lifeguard, while interesting, didn’t give me any insight into what a real job would be like. Of course I am not saying that being a lifeguard is not a real job, it just doesn’t have the same expectations as a normal job. The two cannot even be compared because they are so different. So, when I started working at Office Depot, everything was so different. I now had to clock into work, actually talk to my boss about business and not about what I saw on TV last night, and if I wanted off work for a certain day or weekend, I had to put in to have off two weeks ahead of time, not 2 minutes before we opened, and if you didn’t, it was almost impossible to get someone to work for you at the last minute. Also, if you did somehow find someone to work for you, you had to go through a manager and have them sign off on it, and switch the hours on the master schedule. While going into the job I knew of course that they would be extremely different, I never really thought about how wide the differences would be. The experience taught me that you can’t ever expect a job t be a certain way, because any job could have a boss that is super strict or super easy going. It also taught me that you must be able to switch the way you act, dress, and talk depending on the atmosphere you are in and the type of people you are around. Everyone needs to learn to be more diverse and able to be comfortable in all different kinds of settings and environments, because you never know where you will end up working. Knowing that the job would have different expectations, I was able to dress nicely, be extremely polite and personable, and got the job I was looking for. It is obvious that I couldn’t go into a place like Office Depot looking for a job in shorts and a t-shirt, and that I couldn’t go to work like that everyday. If everyone just realizes these differences and plans according to them, they should be in good shape to impress all of their future employers and should be able to work wherever they please.