On October 25 of this year, I began a social experiment. No letting the person in front of me decide what I eat for a day, ordering one item at every fast food place, or going to the worst rated business in my hometown. Instead, I challenged myself to see what happens when you apply to one hundred jobs in the post-quarantine, employers claiming “nobody wants to work” era.
The challenge, happily, ended when I got so bored with it, I decided to violate one of the rules and apply for one of those “gig economy.” jobs like Uber, DoorDash, GrubHub, and Instacart. Only without a car, all but Instacart Shopper is out for me, and they are not hiring.
Needing to stick strictly to online gig work, I put it to tutor for a website called “TutorMe,” which turned out to be a great opportunity for me to earn money doing some of the work I am called to do…teaching writing and related skills.
Here is just some of what happened up until the day I received the offer to work as an independent contractor through TutorMe:
To launch the challenge, I applied to six jobs. Two of them are in the literacy and writing teaching category, and are jobs I would love to work. The other four were jobs that may not involve work I feel called to do, but are jobs I could do, based on my eleven years and nine months of experience in customer service.
One, <Big Box store>, invited me to submit a virtual recorded interview. The interview offer came so quickly, it has to be an automatic response to anyone who applies. The position they would consider me for is an unspecified temporary holiday job.
To complete the interview, I had to watch a recorded interviewer ask a question, then record a video of myself answering it. Nothing…and I mean nothing…upsets me…makes me nervous…and flat out lowers my confidence more than having my picture taken or being filmed, and watching myself while it’s happening makes it ten times worse. I would literally rather go onstage in a swimsuit or other revealing outfit, give a speech to a large crowd, or take a test in my worst subject.
People think I’m being dramatic, displaying false modesty, or even teasing or playing around with them when I tell them this, and ask them not to take my picture, show me a picture of myself, film me, or make me look at myself on video. I am not. I have stopped speaking to people because they wouldn’t back off and leave me alone about videos and pictures.
To get through these five videos, I unfocused my eyes and intentionally sat in some weird lighting so I just looked like a blob to myself and didn’t have to actually look at a clear shot of me on video. Then I answered each question quickly and submitted my videos without playing them back.
The people watching them will probably think I’m high. And the only answers I could think of involved my six and a half years experience teaching adults and the ten years I spent as a reporter before transitioning to teaching. So even if they do realize I was just uncomfortable on camera, they’ll think I’m lying about not being a reporter anymore, and just assume I’m there undercover to break some big story. I expect my first rejection letter of the challenge within the next day or two.
Day 2: October 26, 2021
<Big box store> actually accepted that video interview. Honestly, it makes me wonder who they turned down. I have a phone interview scheduled for tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. I’ll be at work at my real salaried job, my teaching job, at that time, but it will be a good time to take a break. I should have most of my work done.
Right now, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do if they offer me a job.
Day 3: October 27,2021
On Wednesdays, I schedule semi-breaks. That is, I make sure my laptop is open and the university (where I have a salaried teaching job) webpage is on the screen at all times in case a student needs to speak to me during office hours, but I take a break from all the other work I’m doing at the time, such as grading, participating in the discussion board, writing lessons, or writing and sending outreach.
On most days, semi-break time is spent checking in on the freelance writing portion of my career, doing a quick chore, checking on Callie, checking the news, etc. Today, it was filled with a phone interview from <Big box store>
At first it seemed as though they weren’t interested in me because I didn’t have Saturday availability, but in the end, I was offered a temporary cashier and other front of store duties position. The next step was to send me authorization to carry out a “consumer report” on me. This means they want to check my credit history in addition to looking for a criminal background. They may also want to check my social media.
There’s really no need to waste the background check people’s time. Temporary cashier at <Big box store> is not a job I would take as a side gig. It would force me to rearrage my whole schedule only to end in about seven or eight weeks.
And then there’s the money. The pay is $15.00 per hour. According to the paycheck calculator website, Paycheck City, I would clear $715 per check if I worked 30 hours per week and got paid every other week. That only comes to $357.50 per week. And that’s before you deduct those expenses that are supposed to be “optional” that often are not. No, you don’t “have to” buy drinks on your break or lunch on your lunch period every day you work, but when it’s faster to go to the snack bar or deli than it is to dig your sack lunch out of the fridge in the break room….if somebody else hasn’t eaten it by the time you get there….you wind up doing that. I’d wind up taking an Uber to get there and home at least once per week. When it came down to it, I would be spending a lot of hours working at <Big box store> simply to enable myself to keep working at <Big box store>.
Come back next Friday to learn how the next few days of the challenge went…
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com