The Trouble with Working It
Alison Hooker is a bright young woman. She is a middler communications major at Northeastern University and performing well in her classes. She has experience as a waitress and recently finished her first co-op at a broadcasting company in her native Chicago. She is friendly and outgoing, and carries herself with a confident, yet approachable demeanor. In all regards, she appears to be a capable and collected individual. Despite all these positive attributes, however, Hooker has been unable to find a job in Boston.
“I’ve applied so many places,” said Hooker, who has been persistently searching for work since returning to Boston in January. “It takes a lot of time to go out and apply to a lot of different places, and it’s even harder when you have classes all during the day. I can’t even remember every place I applied to, probably because a lot of them never even called back.”
Hooker isn’t alone in her sentiments of frustration. Within the past few years, finding a job has become increasingly difficult for people across the nation. Unemployment rates have, with few exceptions, been steadily climbing, and that trend is reflected in many discouraged would-be workers.
In Boston alone, average unemployment rates more than doubled in the past four years, from 2.9% in 2000 to a full 6% in 2003, according to statistics from the Massachusetts Division of Employment and Training (MDET). Finding and maintaining employment has been difficult for white-collar professionals, let alone unskilled college students that are only available for part-time hours. On the rare occasions that unemployment rates have declined in recent months, many analysts dismiss the seemingly positive statistic as a sign of the discouraged and out-of-work and simply giving up the job hunt and dropping out of the unemployed pool.
Still, many students persevere and overcome these obstacles, through a variety of tactics. Twenty-year-old Kelly Breen, a Northeastern sophomore, wanted to continue her career as a waitress when she went to school in Boston. In applying to various local restaurants, however, she encountered a number of setbacks.
“One place told me I could only start working with daytime shifts, which obviously wouldn’t work with my classes. Another place said that just any serving experience wasn’t good enough, I needed a minimum of two years of waiting tables in a city,” said Breen, who is originally from southern New Jersey. Eventually she found work as a server at Pizzeria Uno’s, thanks in part to her extensive history with the company.
“I used to work at the Uno’s back home. I started working there when I was 16, and worked through being the hostess, salad girl, and finally I got to be a server. All that experience helped a lot in getting the Uno’s job in Boston,” said Breen.
In addition to serving pizzas, Breen another classic source of income: babysitting. She responded to an ad posted in Northeastern’s Behrakis...