“Lately my supervisor has been telling me about job openings,” the email read, “but nothing specific has been said. Can you give me some advice for landing a job—is there anything I can do to make it happen?”
This anxiety-producing message came from Kate, a student of mine currently completing a summer internship in Chicago. Kate is a wonderful pupil: diligent, hard-working and bright. She’s also a terrific writer who is graduating with a degree in journalism, an industry undergoing some profound changes right now. I was a journalist before becoming a teacher, and I know how competitive this field can be even in the best of times. Because of these uncertainties, I felt Kate needed more from me than the standard “polish up your resume” maxim.
How can we help young people who are seeking jobs in today’s market? Do we really want to tell them not to get their hopes up, that this is a difficult time to look for a job and they may not get the position they want? Certainly this is not encouraging advice—and is it even true? The job hunt has traditionally been defined as a “matching up” of the applicant’s qualifications with the criteria needed for a particular position. But who, or what, is actually doing the matching? Isn’t God in charge of the job hunt—just as He’s in charge of all our daily activities? Every job ought to attract its most qualified candidate-and every applicant ought to attract a position for which he or she is uniquely suited.
Reading through Kate’s email again, I was touched by her optimism and enthusiasm. “I really like coming to work every day,” she wrote. “The people here are great and I’m interested in my work…” I felt that Kate’s upbeat attitude was already helping with her job search. It’s important for young job seekers, just starting off in the work world, to focus on the positive aspects of the job hunt rather than the negative. Lifting one’s mental outlook into the higher realms of thought provides enormous strength and clarity.
Young adults graduating from colleges and universities these days deserve our support. The Millennials are a lively, interesting and self-confident generation. They want to help others and make their mark in the world. But they need our backing to do this—more than ever now, it seems. I remember when Kate was applying for an internship in the spring of 2010. With a 3.8 average and an impressive list of college activities, I was certain she’d get the first internship she tried for. But as the weeks went on, she was rejected from one spot after another.
Finally, with a month to go in the semester, she made the final round for her current internship. I felt there was nothing more important that I could do, under the circumstances, than to pray. Kate could not be denied a chance to learn on the job, thus completing her requirements for graduation.
“I’m praying for you, Kate,” I told her. “And you should pray too!”
She looked surprised that I’d brought this up at school, but assured me she was doing so. On the way home from the college that evening I prayed fervently that Kate would be given this opportunity. Somehow, I had the feeling she was also praying, and that her prayers would be answered. And they were: the next morning she received an email confirming her internship.
We can help today’s young adults find jobs, in ways beyond giving them the pat information to “keep your resume to one page”. We can know that this generation, like all the others before it, is needed in today’s work world. And we can pray for every job seeker to find his or her rightful place.