AS I watched my daughter excitedly write her job application letters the other day, I recalled the positions I applied for and those I had before I ended up in the newspaper industry–I mean, before I got “hooked” in the print medium.
Leia asked me how I applied for work before. Yes, my fresh graduate is itching to put her degree to use. So please don’t begrudge me for a little shoutout to my friends and potential employers out there before I continue. Leia earner her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Technology degree at the University of Science and Technology in Southern Philippines. Now, I don’t know what a graduate of that course actually does for a living, ergo this short shoutout.
Okay. Let’s go back to romancing the past.
Leia told me she felt insecure because, obviously, she a short curriculum vitae. I assured her it’s quite “alright” because it is her first foray into the job market. Before, we did not have to write CVs to go with our application letter. We bought a pro forma bio data for one peso. So, imagine how embarrassing it was for me to leave out some of the items in the bio data because unlike my daughter, I was a college dropout. However, living in the Corrales household which was a dual-income family and being a college dropout, I started feeling like I was a freeloading loser–and I was. After two summers of just skulking around the house and playing video games with our Nintendo Family Computer, I figured I had to somehow start contributing to the “real world.”
I became an apprentice for a salesman of a merchandising company. We sold baby powder and bathroom tissue from Iligan City to Kapatagan. I remember being stranded in Kapatagan for two days because my bosses, the salesman and the driver, got into a binge drinking spree and were too drunk to travel, much less, make sales calls.
After a short stint with the drunken salesman, I applied and worked for a Grolier encyclopedia distribution company. Yes, I was a book salesman. Before the Internet, encyclopedias were king. I experienced a lot of my “firsts” in that job–“firsts” which I’d rather not go to details in this column.
I reached my sales quota and was awarded a whole set of encyclopedia. But after that, the caravans and the book conventions started to bore me. I had to go out. I was looking for something. What it was I still didn’t have a clue.
I got out of that job and applied for a more “physical job”–an assistant welder. I recall being good at it. I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and getting paid by the sweat of my brow, so to speak. We fabricated window grills and we had a variety of designs catalogued. I remember filling out a large order from a subdivision developer somewhere in Kauswagan. So if you live in a subdivision in Kauswagan, chances are we made your window grills.
However, my boss decided to work overseas and had to close shop. So I was officially unemployed again. From that time until I started to work for a local newspaper were a string of odd jobs. The oddest of which was being an “Internet coach.” Internet was something new that time and there was this German expat who posted a job ad in a local daily for somebody to teach him how to use the Internet.
After that, I worked as a personal assistant which I have come to understand is a euphemism for “yaya”; as insurance agent; as a folksinger; and as a community organizer for a non-government organization.
Leia asked me if I regretted having applied for all of those I mentioned. I did not because all the jobs shaped the kind of man that I am now. It shaped my biases and principles, and it made me a better journalist today. Whenever I write a news or feature story about something, I can write about it honestly because I lived it before.
I think the lesson my Leia and the others who are entering into the job market for the first time is not to be choosy and just explore. Of course, some of the wisecracks out there will reply: “I can be choosy because unlike you, I have a degree.”
The first job you will be applying and work for will just be to acquire practical knowledge outside the academic bubble. Believe you me, there will be lots of theories that will be debunked in the course of your careers.
But then again, what do I know, right?