Who? Steven Tocco
What? Kroger Clerk/Cashier aka first job ever
Where from? My hometown during high school
When I was finishing my sophomore year of high school, I wanted a car. Real bad. And I knew my parent’s weren’t gonna put one in my christmas stocking, so as soon as I turned sixteen, it was go time! I was going to get my first job.
The problem was, I had to be a little picky. The goal was to get a job so I’d be able to buy a car, but I needed a car to get myself to the job!
My solution: I needed to find a place close to home so I could ride my bike to work, and the options were limited. I took a couple days pondering my life, trying to figure out a way where I could have my own money, but skip awkwardness of searching and asking for my first job ever – with zero experience! I realized I just needed to get out there and talk to people. I was prepared as much as I’d ever be, so one day after a sunny school day in may, I slid on some fresh shoes (and a semi-formal outfit) and headed to the nearest grocery strip mall near my house.
I was turned away by the first two establishments I entered. Cold, hard, rejection.
Just kidding, they just weren’t hiring. No big deal; they were polite. I didn’t know it yet, but I had already been practicing networking by just talking to restaurant managers. I thought it was kind of fun, and I began to understand more clearly that for my first job, I needed to show that I wanted to work.
I walked into Kroger, (not my first choice my any means) and decided to try something new. I walked up the first person I saw who seemed important, and chatted about how and why I wanted to work. “I don’t mean to interrupt, but I was wondering if there were any positions open, I’d love to work here for the summer.”
The truth was the only thing I had to lean on, since I wasn’t very experienced nor was I good at explaining my skills yet. It turns out, I was speaking with the store’s assistant manager, a customer service rep, and the head hiring manager. Jackpot.
The hiring manager started to recite about the application process, how it takes a while to go through, and how they’d call IF my survey results turned out “green” instead of “red,” whatever that meant. She basically told me what she tells everyone who wants a handout, because they get a lot of applications every day. I paid attention very carefully, and afterwards described how this would be my first job, and I’m saving up for a car, my goal was one year.
As soon as I said it would be my first job, the conversation changed. They saw the passion in me for talking to other people, and the drive I had to begin driving. They were surprised I was only a sophomore in high school, because “Nobody hardly comes into the store and actually talks to us before their interview, heck, we hardly get phone calls anymore. Too bad you’re not 18 yet, we have cashier positions available, but until then I’m sure we can find a spot for you as a bagger, absolutely.”
From that point forward, there was no pressure at all through the interview process. I really stood out to them simply because I did something most people find awkward, and it is awkward! The trick is, I decided I was okay with that. Rejection was no big deal, and I wasn’t afraid of being told no.
I put myself out there, I stressed how much I wanted to work, how I wanted to work hard, about how perfect my attendance has been at school, and even told them about my plans to bike to work.
During the interview a week later, I explained how I didn’t have any experience or anything, but then proceeded to talk about my involvement in broadcasting class, and how I really learned a lot from being in theatre and being a twin all my life. I had no idea, but I was talking up my transferable skills from the experience (yes, experience!) I had.
My biggest piece of advice: Be real. Tell the truth about anything positive you can think of. Knowing about the company and preparing at Career Services will make you very confident, but always remember that you’re interviewing employers just as they are interviewing you. If you aren’t a best fit for an establishment, it’s better to find out from the beginning while being transparent, and hopefully they return the favor of honesty.
I used the same attitude of being myself to land 4 different positions since that day, but I also gotta give credit to Career Services though, they really save ya a lot of time preparing and practicing. It’s a win-win.
Good luck and happy job hunting!