How to fill out a job application
Veronica’ s job-hunting tips

By Veronica Barriga, 16, Glendale HS
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It was finally June. Summer had arrived—no school, no stress, no worries. For the first two weeks I was off, it was all about sleeping in, swimming, eating and tanning. I was cool, nice and relaxed. There was just one minor detail holding me back—this girl was broke, broke as a joke.

With no dollars, my best friend Alex and I became really good intruders. We snuck into everywhere—the movies, Universal Studios, even the bus. We told stories, like we had to find our friends who were inside. When that didn’t work, one of us played lookout while the other literally ran under the bars where they take your tickets. Al and I took turns charming cute young workers for pretzels, hot chocolate, hot dogs or whatever. Sometimes they gave us free food, other times they laughed or didn’t take us seriously. Once at the Santa Monica Pier, a man overheard us and gave us five bucks. It was nice but that doesn’t happen often.

I never planned anything, I was just a random girl who spent her days doing random things. It was actually really dope and exciting, but that feeling soon faded. It hit me one night when I was chillin’ with a friend in Olde Town Pasadena. I had a caramel mochiatta at Starbucks and we wanted to get the best deep-dish cheese pizza at our favorite place, when I realized I only had two bucks left. The pizza cost four bucks. It sucked, having no money sucked! I was tired of asking people for things, sneaking into places and putting things on hold.

The next day, I decided to get a job.

And of course my mom felt that I shouldn’t get a job. "Why would you want to start working now? You’ll have your whole life to work."

I sat there, exasperated, staring at the ceiling, thinking, "That’s great, mom!" I had to explain that I’m a teen, I need to buy things, I want to have fun and go places.

Maybe she understood me, because two days later she gave in and I began job hunting. The first week of July, I picked up applications from Wet Seal clothing store, Juxtapose clothing store, Boarders Sports store, Subway Sandwiches & Salads and Red Robin Restaurant. I felt that five was more than enough. All that was left to do was wait for a phone call. I honestly believed that!

Two weeks later not one single place had called me, so I called them. "Hello, my name is Veronica. I spoke to you … Uh, I would like to know if there are any available positions …" I attempted to give a good impression over the phone. Their answers:
"The positions are filled. Call back. We’ll hold your application."

"Check back in three months."

"We’ll give you a call."

"We only hire 18 or older. Sorry."

I didn’t have experience, but how was I supposed to get it when no one would hire me? I was frustrated and mostly pissed. My mom tried to me feel better. "Hon, if you put in 100 applications, I guarantee you, someone will call you!"

I don’t think anyone has that much patience, but I took her advice and added 12 more applications to my collection. It took me two days to fill them out. The process was long. A Nordstrom Rack application was four pages long! Ahhh!

Soon I had turned in so many applications that I lost track of which stores they were placed in. I started keeping a list of stores and their phone numbers, with notes on who to speak to.

When I turned in applications, I made sure that they were handed to managers and managers only. I began dressing formally—black pants, a white buttoned-down shirt, dress shoes—and speaking confidently. I wanted to catch someone’s eye. Sounds easy, but this was the scary part. As I walked into stores, I always felt a little intimidated. I had no idea what their reaction was going to be—it made me nervous every time!

The majority of the employers were professional and considerate, but the minute they learned I was 16, well … The conversation ended.

At one shoe store, the manager said she hired teens, but didn’t have any openings. She suggested I try their other location, but when I went there, the manager tossed my application back at me and rudely told me he only hires 18 and over. When I told my mom about it, she asked me if I had been rude to him. Even my own mother was doubting me!

The only time I felt comfortable was when I talked to the manager at Red Robin Restaurant. He greeted me in a friendly way and sat down with me. He asked about a few things on my resume. He explained that he’s reluctant to hire teens because he invests time in training them and then they quit. He didn’t promise me a job, but he said he might call.

July ended. After all the madness I still had nothing.

One afternoon I was sitting outside my apartment when my neighbor walked by and asked how I was doing. I said I was trying to get a job, but before I could explain my sad story, he told me that he’s the manager at a local deli.

"Do you need an extra worker?"

"Yeah, I do."

"Are you serious?"

I told my mom and I could tell she was happy for me.

The next day I turned in an application at the deli. I’m going to work 12 hours each weekend, starting at $7 an hour. The deli employs other teens, which means I can work with other people my own age. Just like that, I was employed! I didn’t want to look dorky, but you have no idea how excited and happy I was. Outside I was calm, but inside, I was jumping up and down.

I still am!