Out of the many, many e-mails I receive about my columns, an overwhelming number go something like this: “Hey pleas [sic] tell me how to get hired to right [sic] for the Daily?! LOL.” And out of the many, many conversations I hear around campus, an increasing number go something like this: “And now Stephanie has an internship, I’m going c-r-a-z-y. Yeah, she’s the fat one. Hey, do you think that guy is following us?”

Jobs: everyone wants them, and summer is right around the corner. Today’s topic is how to go out and GET them, as a student in today’s economy, without getting on your knees and begging. Instead, try getting on all fours and begging.

No, I’m kidding, it’s still possible to get a job. You just have to think a little old-fashionably, by which I mean you have to think like your parents. Whenever I’m having a tough time getting an employer to hire me, I just remember my father’s advice: “Look, just go and talk to the guy, dammit.” Or something like that, I don’t remember exactly. I think this was how most jobs were acquired by our parents’ generation, which might explain the current economic crisis. Nowadays, what most students fail to realize is that employers aren’t just looking for a snappy résumé, flawless GPA and attractive physical features – they’re also looking for interpersonal skills and initiative. Sometimes, just showing up, being polite and casually mentioning, “Oh hey, I’m the new intern” does the trick.

Of course, this can backfire. I vividly remember walking into The Michigan Daily office a few semesters ago — the spackle on the wall was light brown — and asking with a smile if they needed any writers. I was hired on the spot and to this day I earn a measly $5.82 per column. So always make sure that you want to work at a place that might hire you immediately, because it’s awkward to decline an offer in person.

But there will be some job opportunities in which you can’t use your personal charm. There will be some jobs in which the only communication between you and the employer will be by e-mail, or, God forbid, carrier pigeon. And by far the most common mistake made by students when writing to employers is not being able to write.

This is to be expected at a large research university that’s trapped in a culture of ignorance and whose society is misinformed by an anthropocentric view of the universe. On the other hand, you don’t want to write too wordily. Like most things in life, there is a fine balance in writing to prospective employers. For example, a common approach that is all too bare goes something like this:

“Yo, I saw the position for (such and such) on your website. I go to the University of Michigan. When can we meet?”

Just because you go to the University of Michigan doesn’t mean you will be automatically hired, especially now that we have a losing football team. You’ve got to sell yourself in an e-mail, not your school. But don’t sell yourself too much, as in this approach:

“Why do I want to work at Summer Fun Summer Camps? Ever since I spent my childhood beside the sparkling waters of Big Bone Lake I’ve realized that I like to spend my time outdoors, in the summer, preferably around lakes. It is nice and warm in the summer and there are fish to catch. One time, when I was fishing with my dad, he said, “Pass the beer, son,” and I accidentally dropped the beer into the lake and we had a good laugh. Then he stopped laughing and said, “Go get it” and that’s when I learned to swim. I have so many good memories like that! I want to help the children at Summer Fun Summer Camps and give them a summer to remember.”

It’s nicely written, right? But it’s just a bit too personal, and you don’t want to make your employer uncomfortable. The balance between writing too little and writing too much is a delicate one, and can only be realized with practice.

So to all of those students who are looking for a job, I wish you the best of luck. The search may be strenuous. The search may be difficult. But just remember: there are always spring/summer classes. Unless you really need a job and money. Then my advice is: Don’t write columns.

Will Grundler can be reached at wgru@umich.edu.

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