Pennsbury business teacher Tenaz Purdy has published a book on preparing teens to move out of academics and into the work world and how to succeed in it.
“Stand Out or Sit Down” tackles a plethora of important issues for young people entering our future work force.
“Stand Out or Sit Down” is a “how to” book on working.
Students learn how to select a job they are interested in doing.
They learn how to write an effective resume and letter of interest, fill out an application strategically, and navigate the most frequently asked questions on job interviews.
According to Tenaz, “I wrote this book to teach young people ages 16 to 24 the practical skills needed to find and succeed in a job while meeting their school and home commitments.”
Tenaz’ book is grounded in research on the work force, employment practices, micro and macroeconomics.
In addition, she includes anecdotes from her seven years as the director of PHS’s work co-op program to support every piece of advice she gives to young prospective workers.
“They are true stories of ‘both successes and failures’ of my former students as they went through their own job-hunting experiences.”
She humbly adds, “I know something about this subject as coordinator of the PHS Co-op program, where I taught and coached hundreds of students through their high school and college years, and sometimes even beyond, through every employment situation imaginable.”
The book also provides valuable feedback from employers. “They have “generously contributed their insights and advice to young job seekers.” Unfortunately, not all of the feedback from local employers on high school workers is positive.
“These employers have serious concerns about their lack of preparation for the working world.”
Unfortunately, the Co-op Program that Tenaz began running in 2002 was cut due to lack of enrollment in 2009, when too many students shifted their focus to academic camps aimed at competitive college entrance or remediation for state testing, all at the expense of gaining practical work experience.
This prompted her to publish this book as a practical how-to guide for students who want to work.
Here is some of the practical advice Tenaz offers in her book:
1) To the wannabe worker, the old catch-22 of needing job experience to get a job when you have no experience is still there. Her answer is simple. Do volunteer work or a co-op job. It can be put on a resume or application.
2) She points out that most employers will not make a formal job offer even to high school students for a part-time job, without checking their social media posts to see that they are appropriate. Students need to keep them appropriate.
3) Tenaz says that students need to use in-person and verbal communication to get jobs. Most employers reach-out by phone to prospective employees, and many students miss out on job opportunities because they text employers.
4) Fill-out applications in person if possible. Employers like to see and meet applicants in the flesh. Their applications go to “the top of the pile” over online applications according to Tenaz.
5) Be responsible to keep jobs. High school students are losing jobs because they do not call out or give enough advance notice when missing a day, or not showing-up on time for a work shift.
6) Give proper two-week notice when resigning a position to get a positive future reference.
7) College graduates must have realistic job expectations about entry-level jobs and “paying their dues.” She points out that many times, college-trained students entering the workforce expect to move directly into the glory of their “dream job.”
It seems that Millennials have an “unrealistic” expectation that they will go right “to the top” of their profession immediately, without doing the grunt-work needed to learn their vocation and their company. Many times, unwilling to do this, Millennials have gained the reputation as “job hoppers,” moving around to different jobs much too frequently because jobs do not meet their unrealistic expectations.
8) Her advice to college graduates is to take on whatever tasks your new employer gives you, and gradually work your way “up the ladder.” While this may seem like an old idea to Baby Boomers, it is one that Millennials and Post Millennials DO NOT UNDERSTAND.
Closing advice from Tenaz is that it is an “employer’s job market” out there. Although we are enjoying record unemployment rates, this is because salaries are not keeping pace with the cost of living and many adults are working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
This is shrinking the job market for part-time paying jobs that traditionally went to high school and college students who worked while in school.
Now these students are competing with experienced working adults, and it is more important than ever for them to “Stand Out.”
PHOTO CAP: Tenaz Purdy with her new book, “Stand Out or Sit Down.”