Of Mice and Youth: Why college-age people can’t be picky

Alisha Kirby and Alisha Kirby

I eavesdropped on a conversation on campus in which a girl of maybe 19 or 20 said to her friend, “It’s impossible to find a job.” When her friend asked what sort of jobs she’d applied for she responded with a list of jobs she wouldn’t want.

There seems to be an increased sense of entitlement among those in my age group when it comes to getting a first job. Those of us in our teens and early-twenties, once we’ve moved on from babysitting and mowing lawns, toe the line of hope and assumption that a $10-an-hour job with decent benefits will be handed to us immediately.

Her list included retail (because “it’s so lame”), food service (“smelling like food is gross”) and anything that would schedule her on weekends. I can’t think of any entry-level job that exists which meets her unreasonable criteria.

Our parents used to tell us we could be anything we wanted to be, but this isn’t always true anymore and we’ve got to just accept it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate in California is 10.7 percent as of August. So while I wouldn’t want to get home smelling like fries every night either, no one can afford to be picky these days.

When I wrote my “Where do you see yourself in five years?” essay during my sophomore year of high school, I don’t recall thinking, “I’d love a dead end, minimum wage job,” but sometimes you just have to wait it out and work your way up.

I don’t think John Steinbeck was correct when he implied the impossibility of the American Dream in his classic “Of Mice and Men” back in 1937. I think you can get some of the things you want so long as you work hard, set yourself up for certain opportunities and get really, really lucky.

I’m not saying, “don’t shoot for the stars” or anything, but it’s alright to have a healthy level of realism. If you’re out applying for jobs, don’t be picky. You can’t afford to be for long. So while you’re scrubbing dishes, dealing with cranky customers and waking up early on a Saturday, just remember: at least you’re getting a paycheck.