I was job hunting today.
I mean, I’ve been job hunting for a while. This isn’t a new thing with me. After discovering that I’m basically only qualified for food service and bank teller jobs (which, by the way, would be awesome!!! ) I gave up and went to Indeed.com, where I typed “entry-level” into the search engine.
I know that entry-level jobs are nearly always for graduates. I get that. Some college is the minimum if you’re looking to go into a Fortune 1000 company. Again, no problem. What bothers me is when these “entry-level” positions call for 3-5 years experience in a fast-paced environment, management experience preferred, and please, please, please, be fluent in at least three languages.
Now that I’ve completed my second shot of complaining, let me explain myself further. I’m not a person who throws tantrums because employers prefer bilingual candidates. If 30% of the market speaks Spanish, then the workforce should learn. Not necessarily to fluency; just to where you can communicate. It’s fair. The market serves the customers. If a large portion of the customers speak Spanish, then yes, people should learn basic Spanish. It’s easy. I’m totally language-impaired, and I can understand most of it. I can even speak haltingly. And I suck at it. It’s hard for me. But I’ve got some groundwork, because dang it, I want a job. And if Spanish speakers are going to help support my employment, the least I can do is help them out.
Further, it’d be great to be trilingual. I’m working on it. Not only does it make you a more valuable commodity in the work-place, it’s good for you. It strengthens your mind, opens neat little pathways in your brain, and expands your horizons all around. It’s a great idea. That’s not my problem. Multilingual abilities are awesome.
Further, I know many jobs require it. You can’t deal on the international level if the players aren’t willing to communicate. It’s fair. It’s helpful. It’s good for diplomacy. It makes business operations that much smoother.
But here’s my gripe.
In order to start off in the marketplace, I’d have to be fluent in four languages? It’s not enough to have a degree and be fluent in one, proficient in the other. I somehow had to find time between a packed college schedule, extra curricular activities, and a job to learn three additional languages?
Look, I don’t need anybody to tell me that this is a very American gripe. I’m acquainted with a young man right now who knows six, and switches between effortlessly. He thinks it’s funny (and it sort of is.) I know another who claims to know something semi-ridiculous, like tenor eleven. I don’t trust him entirely (I never trust really fun people entirely, what can I say), but he’s at least got three down. My childhood best friend’s father has abilities that made him indistinguishable from native speakers. My dad knows bits and pieces of German and Spanish, certainly enough to get by in either country. And I know enough Spanish to get by in Mexico. I would’t be totally lost in France, either. (That’s the benefit of studying Latin on your own time–know a little Latin, you know a little everything.) Like I said before, it’s great to know several languages. If you’re multilingual, that should definitely help you qualify for a job.
But to require it for entry-level?! Not just prefer it, but to make it necessary?
And what’s with the experience? Why in the world should a recent, entry-level, brand new graduate, have 3-5 years of management experience?
Here’s where I get lucky. Technically, I have management experience. From the food service sector, unfortunately, but I’ve got three years of it. Not to inflate my own importance, but it was all-inclusive, from back-office stuff to the front counter, dealing with customers and employees equally. This does put me ahead job-wise. I don’t get called for interviews often (hooray for California, haha) but when I do, I get the job. Five interviews in my lifetime; five jobs in my employment history (well, six, but as one was a recurring temp job at a summer camp, those two get glommed into one). I don’t actually have a problem with it. If you’ve got it, use it, baby. Get ahead.
It just makes me angry when it’s required. I thought the essence of an entry-level job was that you were entry-level. Education, but little to no experience. You use the extra skills and experience when you’ve got them, of course. Luckily, everybody’s got a little extra something. But when those extra-somethings, those extra-efforts, those self-refinements and voluntary disciplines, become requirements, it makes me sad. I don’t know. I can see where it would be a very good thing to have a nation of brilliant multilingual citizens who are all at the management level by age seventeen. It’d rock. It’d be good for everyone. But it’s not going to happen. (Look at the public schools. Jeez Maria, look at the universities. We’re doomed.) By requiring these things at the outset–not even giving allowance for training, for extra time to work on it and beef up those skills to the proficient level within 90 days of hire or something–a large sector of the workforce is going to be alienated. If a 22-year-old university graduate needs 3-5 years’ management experience with trilingual credentials, something’s not right. I’d say it’d be fine to put them on a fast-track to learning languages. Buy them Rosetta Stone or Fluenz (my personal favorite) and tell them, “You’ve got one month to hold a conversation, missy.) Throw them into an assistant manager role, after a two-week training sessions. Do what you’re going to do, require what you will, but give some leeway. I’d be much happier if a description stated, instead: “Must be bilingual, with the ability to learn conversational skills in [insert language] within [this many] days. Will provide [this long] management training session.”
I don’t know. I’m ranting, and I know it. It’s disheartening, is all. If I need all these skills and qualifications to start a career, I need a new life. An existence where I learned Spanish by 7, German by 9, French by 11, Mandarin Chinese by 13, Japanese by 15, Swahili by 17, and managed to squeeze in proficient Hungarian by graduation. I would also take a job at 16, be a manager by 17, and hold that position til I went off to college at 18, where I would take another job where I promote fast. I’d also manage to learn Dutch, Italian, Romanian, and Hebrew by my senior year. I’d also, of course, be earning straight A’s, garner a fantastic internship or four, travel abroad during the summers, study abroad one semester per year, and of course, be a corporate manager by age 20.
Am I exaggerating? Yes. Totally. Slap me, I’m being ridiculous.
But am I bummed? Incurably.
Wish me luck. And I’m praying for all of you.