“Truth WILL hunt down a lie … and blow it from the SKY!” — Old Black Folks Proverb
Great story that I heard years ago. A son came home from school one day, all pumped up about “cleaning up the environment.” “I want to clean up my city,” said the young man to his father, who had just come home from work. “Really? Well, son, I’ve got a great place for you to start.” The father led the young man upstairs to his room and said, “Clean up your OWN room, like your mother told you to do yesterday!”
Work ethics are born in the HOME. They are taught, not caught. Children receive them based upon what they see exhibited and enforced by their parents, their parent or their guardian(s). In the Black family dynamic, EVERYONE works. Two career parents? In the Black family, it has always been a means of survival, not convenience. Only in this modern era have many of our children been allowed to ‘opt out’ of doing chores, earning an allowance, or working small jobs like paper routes, cutting lawns, babysitting and other tasks. Thanks to ‘crazy checks,’ child support, and the parental side hustle, children and teens generally have been ‘given’ too much, and do not appreciate (for the most part) learning about work, before becoming adults.
As the winter snows pass, and the buds start to pop up to signal the arrival of spring, a student’s hopes turn toward two things: A quick end of the school year, and finding a summer job. In the case of the second hope, young people, experience is the best teacher on this matter. Hunt for a job at least one season BEFORE you need it. For, IF you wait too long, the jobs dry up quick … and there is no one to blame but yourself.
During my teaching days, I used to marvel at how many students would stand in line to get work permits; killing themselves to earn “their own” money … and let their grades slip. Other students would sleep in class because of their jobs after school — and were shocked when teachers expected them to stay awake to learn the day’s lesson.
Under changes to the child employment laws (last I heard), work permits may be canceled by school districts for students who are either truant, make less than a C average, or who are disciplinary problems. There may be even more restrictions on work permits today. That’s the truth!
Then, there is the “hidden” job market, which even exists for students who want to boost their experience for employment while IN school. Again, during my teaching years, there were a few school districts that had a program open to students who were serious about entering the teaching profession. It was called the Cadet Teacher program. High school juniors and seniors who had good grades and no disciplinary problems could enter the program and go back to serve as teaching interns for their favorite teachers from their middle school. The teachers got some extra help, the students got much needed experience and a chance to see if they really wanted to become teachers. If they did, they had ready references (as well as a tap into the scholarship underground) to go to their college of their choice to become real teachers!
There are other observations on the employment game that many will not find on social media. I can cite some of them verbatim because I had to learn them in my younger days. Some of these quick and fast rules were shared with me by my parents and other older adults. Some of them came while employed. Some of them came while unemployed and actively involved in a job search … but nevertheless, learn these rules I did. Here are a few from the ol’ coach, right off the top:
* Social media habits should be carefully monitored, as employers WILL check your electronic footprints.
* Master getting to places before time or on time. Consistent tardiness is NOT the hallmark of a young man or young woman on their way UP!
* Never hunt for employment without being CLEAN. For young men, shirts, ties, sports jackets, slacks or a suit. For young women skirts, dresses or business suits. For both: cover the tattoos, remove the piercings, showered, hair neat, minimal use of colognes or perfumes. Dress for success!
* Never hunt for employment with friends or relatives. A job search is a solo effort. Why? Because IF the employer wants to bring you in for an interview, you don’t want your friends “hurt” if they don’t get an interview.
An employer-driven job market means that the employer is more focused on the hiring process because there is an abundance of applications and laborers in the marketplace. This also means the better the chance the employer can keep wages constant and save on labor costs by rotating new employees through their ranks. An employee-driven job market means that those who are searching for employment and have the right background AND skills will not only have more employers willing to fight over them, wages will be higher and the ability to move from one job to a better job is improved. You’ve seen the coaching tips for this column. Do your homework, get out there and master the employment game!
Mike Ramey is a minister, book reviewer, P-School Ranger, modern street gangs specialist and syndicated columnist who lives in Indianapolis. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.