The search for summer jobs similar to the quest for a date

So spring break is over, and the search for the summer job becomes more crucial. As the rejections start pouring in, I can’t help but realize that looking for a summer job is a lot like looking for a girlfriend. Understandably, there is a tremendous amount of nervousness involved with both. This decision will determine how a large amount of time will be spent, so be it a job or a girl, there’s a lot of pressure to make sure you end up with the right one. Especially since it will seem like a much longer period of time if it’s the wrong one.

Of course, at this point in the land of me, it’s not exactly a seller’s market, so it’s important to address the key steps in seeking a person or a job. I figure this stuff probably applies universally, since most of us student types are looking for one or the other. And if you aren’t, then you can take your joyful, gainfully employed, relationship-having, happy-go-lucky self and make a pizza. Okay, I’m just not in the mood to begrudge people their happiness today, so enjoy the pizza. For the rest of us, here’s how to go about finding a job or a date.

Initial Contact. The trick here is to strike that crucial balance between aggressive and subtle. Just walking up and saying “I want a job” is a bit too forward for most employers. And it really doesn’t work at all with the ladies. Usually your best bet is a genial introduction mentioning a mutual acquaintance. Introduce yourself, and then casually work in your connection: “So I’ve got this friend Bob, and he mentioned your name.” If you think it will help, exchange goofy stories about the times Bob went to the hospital for various incidents involving cauliflower, but not too many.

Remember, you’re trying to sell yourself, not your friend. If you talk too much about your mutual acquaintance, your prospective employer or date will think about him instead of you. And that would be bad. Wear a button with a picture of yourself or mention your name every third sentence just to make sure.

Things to Consider. This is going to be important, so you don’t want to screw it up. Ask yourself what you can do to make a good impression. Now try again, but eliminate all the options that require more money or political favors than you have. If you dress the way you normally do, she might see you for who you are. This could ruin your chances, as I can personally attest to, so I suggest that you rent a tuxedo. A bright pink tux is sure to make that unforgettable first impression that you are shooting for, and if you know someone in the dry-cleaning business, you can get really cheap rentals.

Will the fact that you don’t have a car available be problematic? Quite possibly. Purchase a used moped. Also, both dates and employers look for someone with lots of self-confidence, so if you aren’t comfortable with whom you are, you should get a makeover and change your name to Chris. If your name is already Chris, get a gold tooth to differentiate you from all the impostors.

The First Date/Interview. The big one. Walk calmly towards your interviewer/date and give her a big smile. Meanwhile, clench your teeth and repeat obsessively in your head “I hope they like me, don’t screw up.” After you sit down and begin conversing, you’ll realize that you have a stain on your shirt. Try nonchalantly to wipe it off while thinking, “I’m a slob. I hope he doesn’t notice. Ack, he’s looking at my shirt!” Attempt to cover by dropping all your best qualities and anecdotes casually into the conversation. “Oh, that’s interesting. It reminds me of when I met Paul Newman at a salad festival. I’ll never forget it, because it’s the same summer I was volunteering at the soup kitchen. I bet there’s very few trombonists who have ever stopped a robbery with a soup ladle.”

After about half an hour you’ll have said everything you can think of, but you’ll still be sitting there and someone will be across the table staring at you and waiting for you to say something. You can try to buy yourself time by asking about her, but the risk is that her answer will be 15 minutes of information you really don’t care about. Eventually both of you will lose all interest in what the other party is saying, and everyone goes home. And then you wait.

Rejection. Rejection is fun because it can come in so many ways, and the lingo for jobs and dates is practically the same, designed to tell you to go away while being polite.

Job: “Thanks for your time.” Date: “I had a nice time.” English: “Your time has been wasted.”

Date: “Maybe I’ll call you sometime.” Job: “We’ll keep your resume on file.” English: “Your information is being incinerated as we speak.”

Date: “Let’s just be friends.” Job: “We have no paid positions currently open, but we do have an unpaid internship available.” English: “How about if you do what I want and you don’t get what you want?”

Job: “You don’t have the qualifications we’re looking for.” Date: “I’m sorry, I don’t think this will work out.” English: “You suck.”

The Perfect Match. Sometimes you have an amazing sensation you can’t describe and you think it means that you’ve found the perfect date or the perfect job. Actually, that sensation is nitric acid from Thursday’s leftovers eating a hole in your stomach. Dating and summer jobs are both temporary, and there’s a reason.

Your dream job turns into janitorial work. Your dream date won’t talk to you. If you aren’t dissatisfied, something will happen on the other end. The company has moved to Alaska. The company was bought out by Bill Gates. She’s moving to Alaska and is now dating Bill Gates. He is Bill Gates.

Acceptance. So Bill Gates dumped you and then fired you. Not to worry, there are many more fish in the sea. In the meantime, find a comfy couch, a good book or three, your favorite drink, a library of movies, and enjoy hanging out with your friends. After all, what better way to spend your time? You are alone and unemployed, so stand proud. Or sit proud. Or lie on the couch proudly. Just…be proud. And don’t put cauliflower up your nose or you might end up like Bob.