By When I was in high school, Esther "Eppie" Lederer, known as Ann Landers, author of the wildly popular advice column, spoke at a luncheon hosted for aspiring journalists from local high schools in Ohio. At the time, I already knew I wanted to be a writer, although I was not sure what kind of writer, and I was eager to hear her words of wisdom.
After the talk, I went up to Ms. Lederer and said, "I know that there aren’t many jobs for journalists, and they’re very hard to get. What advice do you have for me?"
Ann Landers reached across the table and grabbed my forearm (she had quite a strong grip) and said firmly, "Yes, it’s true. They are hard to get. But someone has to get them."
Blunt. Powerful. True. Someone has to get them.
The job market for today’s workers, especially new graduates, is frightfully challenging, with many adults so discouraged that they have given up looking for work. Even those with multiple degrees often find multiple applicants for only a few (or one) position, and the application process itself can seem like yet another college course of tests, assessments, interviews and "hands-on" trials.
Geographically, job-seeking can be even more harsh; some small towns offer little to no opportunities, and larger cities such as Los Angeles, where I live, are so expensive to live in that a job within the city boundaries almost always necessitates extreme lifestyle changes, such as lengthy commutes or high housing costs.
And, yet, I keep thinking of the advice Ann Landers gave to me years ago, and I believe it holds up mighty well today.
Yes, it’s challenging to look for jobs. Yes, they are hard to get. But someone has to get them. Why not you? Or your son? Or daughter? Or neighbor? You and they are "someone," too. When the hard work of finding work is regarded in this light, it becomes easier to have an identity and a purpose.
You or your loved one seeking employment are not merely standing outside the window of a business looking in or floating a resume atop a multistoried stack of other resumes, anonymous and generic.
You are someone looking for work that you love, a career that you have dreamed of, and a person with skills and talents and drive to fit with the work you wish to do.
Are there obstacles? Yes. Is there discouragement, frustration, doubt and anger? Oh, yes, that, too. You won’t always get the job you want where and when you want it. Someone else will. But at some point, sooner or later, you will be that "someone," if you keep at it and keep faith.
By grabbing my forearm as tightly as she did, I think Ann Landers was putting a personal punctuation on her advice to me. She was emphasizing that I had to dig deep, and keep trying, never doubting that there is a place, there is a job for me.
And, eventually, yes, there was a job for me.
Having an idea of who we are, acknowledging the gifts and talents we possess, a willingness to keep trying, and a faith that God has a plan and a place for each of us, this is the stuff of job-seekers at any age.
Yes, there aren’t many jobs, and they are hard to get. But someone has to get them.
Pratt is a columnist for Catholic News Service.