By Shannon Matloob, 16, Beverly Hills HS
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During the past year when I wanted to shop, watch a movie, or eat out with friends, I often found myself penniless.

Unfortunately, asking my parents for money isn’t as easy as it should be because I have three siblings who believe in “fairness,” meaning they get everything I get and nobody in the family gets special treatment. So I decided to look for a job—my only hope to climb out of teenage poverty. It’s especially difficult to be broke during the summer when my friends and I want to go out more.

So five weeks before school ended, I started keeping my eyes open for cute little stores, preferably stationery, hoping to get hired. I chose those types of stores because I could see myself spending hours inside. I love stationery and writing letters, so getting the first peek at the newest stationery wouldn’t be so bad. And I wanted a discount on high-end Crane stationery.

As I found stores at which I could consider working, I’d enter the name of each place in my phone and when I got home, I would write each name on a Post-It. I had a list of about 20, including chocolatiers, stationery stores and cosmetics stores. 

On the last day of school, I called Papersource—my favorite stationery store in Beverly Hills. I especially like Papersource because it has this one section of simple stationery in every color imaginable. The woman who answered the phone told me to send in my resumé.

“Oh, OK. I’ll send it right over,” I said, and then as I hung up I was like, “Eek! I forgot about that!” I was lacking the one crucial thing in my quest for jobs—a resumé. I made a mental note to write one and then I continued to call places, hoping there would be one that didn’t ask for a resumé. Fortunately, including Papersource, only two wanted one.

I was pretty nervous calling places and would often forget why I called. Hearing the ringing stop and a voice come on the line makes me feel like I’m in front of a large crowd. I’d immediately forget everything as my French-class stage fright haunted me even in my bedroom. So I wrote a little script to help.

“Hi, I was just wondering if you have any job openings for the summer,” I read from my script. The script helped prevent my otherwise increasing nervousness, which had been growing ring after ring, anticipating the irritation of the tired voice that would greet me.

Being 16 kept me from the jobs I wanted

A bunch of places turned me down. Most didn’t say why, but those who did said it was because I’m a minor, which hurt me even more because there’s nothing I could do about that. I was especially disappointed that a stationery store called The Card Factory didn’t need help because that meant I had to throw away my long-lived (well, not long, perhaps three days) fantasy of redesigning the store’s logo and eventually taking over once the owner decided to retire. In my desperation for seeking a job, my wildest thoughts took over.

I began to lose hope. I was getting more rejections than I expected and these people weren’t even nice about it. They were snotty and made me feel incompetent. “Uh, NO, we don’t need ANY help.”

One place did give me a chance though. When I called the Diane Kron Chocolatier, I read my script and BAM the woman on the phone (I think it was Diane) told me to come by and ask for Diane at the store the next day. I finally got through to a store despite my age. I gained some hope from this success. 

It was time to make my resumé. Finishing it would help me because it gives background information about yourself to the employer. I Googled “sample resumé” and looked through maybe 15, most of which were too advanced to use as an example. I decided to use the Resumé Wizard on Microsoft Word. I chose the “elegant” style because it was the prettiest and began filling in my name and address, past jobs, references and contact information. I was quite amused because I hadn’t realized how much experience I had. Unfortunately, it was tutoring and assisting teachers, and I didn’t want to do that again.

I e-mailed my resumé to my father and he told me it was great if I was looking for tutoring positions, but wouldn’t help me much if I wanted to work in retail. Then I turned to my mom for help on my resumé and she said to go to the library. “I once saw a book that had sample resumés for any occupation.”

Following my mom’s advice, the next day I went to library on my way to my first job interview at the Diane Kron chocolatier. I found a book on resumés, but my mother was wrong, there wasn’t a book on how to write a resumé for any job. I made a copy of the page that was most relevant to my situation—a high schooler looking for a part-time job.

Diane Kron was very sweet and said I was qualified for the job (because I have pretty handwriting), but she didn’t need help and was only busy during holidays. She said she’d be opening a new store in Malibu and she would need lots of help then. She took down my information and told me she would call me. I was excited that I sort of had a job.

Next, I e-mailed the Beverly Hills Human Resources director to see if she could help me. A girl I met volunteering at the Beverly Hills Farmers Market referred me to her. I never got a reply and considered going to the office in the city hall. Unfortunately, I can’t get a ride and never got a reply to my second e-mail either.

Tired of my empty wallet. I called Diane Kron a few weeks later since she told me during my interview that she might need help later, but she said that I should find other jobs because she wasn’t too sure about any openings at the time.

The next week, Laura, an editor at L.A. Youth, suggested I apply at Lush, a store selling handmade cosmetics. I called Lush and I was asked to send a resumé. I was a little shaky about the resumé I’d made, so I asked Laura to look over it. She was very helpful and told me to make changes such as providing phone numbers with my references and listing the period of time I worked at places. I sent my improved resumé to Lush. I called the next day and found out they don’t hire minors. I was angry that people were still saying this, just give me a freakin’ job. Then I sent my resumé to PaperSource and Teuscher Chocolatier.

Then, I went on my high school’s Web site and e-mailed the teacher in charge of internships, Mr. Hayne. My high school counselor told me many employers go to Mr. Hayne over the summer so he can find qualified employees. I’d forgotten about this excellent service my school provides. I told him I was looking for jobs and asked if any were available. Sadly, I never got a reply.

Still unemployed, I called almost every store in the mall, and yes, they were looking for employees. Unfortunately, they weren’t looking for minors. I passed these opportunities on to my sisters, who were also looking for jobs and were lucky enough to be 18. My parents saw how difficult my quest for a job was. My father offered me work at his office. He didn’t promise that there would always be work, but at least it’s something. I’m not making enough money to buy clothes and eat out, but at least I’m able to do one. And I don’t have to be 18.

I’m still going to look for jobs, but I know the chances of finding one at my age are slim. Especially since I’m extremely picky and refuse to work at a drugstore or restaurant. I only wanted to work in small stores, and those stores rarely want help from minors. I guess finding the perfect job wasn’t as easy as I’d expected. Maybe in 1.5 years I’ll have better luck and hopefully I won’t be as picky.

Other stories by this writer …

Movies in my mailbox. With Netflix—the mail-order movie rental service—Shannon can see all the films she wants. (Nov. 2006)

It’s just not that funny anymore. Shannon could really live without her classmates’ constant interruptions. (Oct. 2006.)