my family thinks my daughter is too picky about the jobs she applies for

A reader writes:

My daughter, a university student, recently was hired for a summer job that matches her field of study. My question, now that she has a job for the summer, is not urgent, but I am sure will come up again next year, and when she graduates.

She is an introvert, and quite shy on top of that. She knows that she would find jobs that require a lot of contact with the public torturous, and therefore did not apply to any openings for fast food or retail outlets, although that is the type of job that is most plentiful for her age group. (Her current position involves very limited contact with the public—perfect for her!) She has worked at residential camps for the last two summers, and reached the conclusion that she never again wants to work with children, so she also did not apply for anything that would involve supervising kids. Although these decisions limited the number of jobs available, she found and applied for a couple of dozen positions that looked like they would be a better fit for her, and had some interviews.

I supported her in her decision not to apply for jobs she didn’t want, but other relatives were not so kind. She/we had to endure many lectures about how she should be applying for every opening she saw, even if she would hate the job, as “any job is better than none.” If money was an issue, I might agree, but she is in the fortunate position of already having money set aside to complete her degree. Getting work this summer was more a case of developing a work history for her resume. (She was prepared to volunteer for the summer if she couldn’t find a job.)

My question concerns all the flack we got about her choosiness in what to apply for. Was I right to encourage her to only apply for jobs she actually wanted? Or should I have been joining the rest of the family in insisting the important thing was to have a job—any job? The thing is, not only would she hate jobs that required a lot of public contact, from my past experience with her when forced to deal with strangers, she probably wouldn’t be very good at them either. You have often stated that interviewing goes both ways—the job seeker is determining if they want the position as much as the employer is determining whether they want this person for the position. If you aren’t desperate for a position, is there any point in applying for ones you know you don’t want? (The problem being, if she applied and then got an offer—because as far as I can tell, fast food outlets hire any warm body that expresses an interest–the logic that any job is better than none would result her working in a job she hated, and likely was not good at, and therefore resulting in not being able to use her supervisors as future references, which in my opinion partly defeats the goal of building a work history.) Any thoughts?

She got a job, and one in her field, so it sounds like this strategy worked just fine. And in the process, you hopefully reinforced for her the idea that she should think about what she’s good at and what she likes when she’s thinking about what jobs to apply for. That’s a message that will serve her well.

If she had been struggling to find a job using this strategy, then at some point you would have needed to talk with her about what one does when that happens — things like at what point to decide that you’re being too choosy for your circumstances, and how to balance meeting your financial obligations with not wanting to be miserable. Her search didn’t play out that way so you didn’t have to have that conversation, although it could still be an interesting one to have now.

But the goal, of course, is to work to get yourself into a position where you can be choosy. Choosy is good, when circumstances allow for it. If your daughter was able to be choosy and land a job she wanted, good for her!

The easiest way to shut down lectures from relatives who have Very Important Input to provide about your daughter’s job search is to drastically limit the amount of information you give them about it. If you keep things vague, they won’t have a lot to opine on.

However, with closer relatives who are generally reasonable, you could also point out in the future that your daughter’s strategy has served her well so far, and that she’s smart enough to adjust it if it becomes clear that she needs to.

{ 438 comments… read them below }

  1. Coming Up Milhouse*

    I think though that this leads to the prevalent culture of entitlement that we hear so much about. Does LW’s daughter understand that it’s great she found a job now but she might not be able to when she graduates due to a variety of factors? Does she understand that she might still have to do grunt work/entry level work with a degree?

    I’m all for getting experience but I’m also not going to tolerate privilege and attitude in the workplace as a manager.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I don’t get that at all from this letter. To me, there’s nothing wrong with saying “as long as I can find a job that doesn’t include working with the public, I’m not going to apply for those jobs because I am bad at them.” That’s not avoiding grunt work or entry level work, it’s avoiding a specific type of work.

      Applying for jobs that fit you well isn’t entitlement. If it got to the point where the only option is unemployment or retail, that’s something. But it’s not anywhere near this point.

      1. Working Mom*

        I agree, I don’t think LW’s daughter was only looking to apply for “the perfect job” (or at least one that appears “perfect” on paper). Rather, she was only looking for jobs that would not force her to be public facing – and it sounds like not only would she hate it but also not excel at it.

        There’s a difference between avoid jobs you would hate/stink at versus cherry picking “perfect” jobs. As long as the daughter understands there are downsides to any job and no job is perfect, I think she’ll be fine! (And I think it sounds like that’s not really the issue.) I agree with Alison that if the job search had not gone well, there would need to be some conversations about giving up some preferences to meet financial needs and obligations.

        1. designbot*

          And even if she was looking for the “perfect” job for her–what’s the harm in that, if you’re successful? Shouldn’t we all start there, then expand our search as needed? It only becomes a problem when all the perfect jobs have turned you down and you think you’re above the other options, but there’s no hint that that’s the case here.

        2. The Rat-Catcher*

          It would take a lot for me to accept a job in any type of sales, even though that’s where a lot of the people my age are succeeding. I don’t think I’m above those jobs in any way – I would just be terrible at them, I don’t have the personality it takes to do well, and living on commission would cause me to agonize over my financial situation to no end. I think OP’s daughter might be in a similar spot.

    2. Murphy*

      I’m not sure where you’re getting any of that from. It doesn’t sound like OP’s daughter was trying to avoid “grunt work,” just work that’s based on interacting with the public. Would you want someone applying for a job with you that they knew they wouldn’t like and wouldn’t be good at?

      1. Mazzy*

        Most lower level jobs require more customer contact so saying “I don’t do customer contact” can overlap with “I’m over this entry level work” at a premature stage in their career. Let’s be realistic, this happens in all sorts of ways in the work world and just saying “but I’m an introvert” isn’t a satisfactory response to most managers.

        Also think it’s important to say that just because someone pointed out something about the letter doesn’t mean they are attacking the person.

        1. Coming Up Milhouse*

          This. I wasnt attacking the letter writer; it was more or less the content and how many young people cultivate this attitude.

          1. Leatherwings*

            This seems like a lot of hand wringing over “young people today” for no reason though. Young people today work more hours for less pay than the generation before them. I just think this is baseless.

              1. Mustache Cat*

                Leatherwing’s comment was factually accurate, though. Across the board, employee hours and “productivity” have risen, and wages have stagnated or remained flat.

                1. Mike C.*

                  Leaving a conversation and being dismissive of someone else’s point of view are two different things.

                2. Trout 'Waver*

                  Stating stereotypes as facts and then ‘agreeing to disagree’ when challenged is dismissive, though.

            1. M-C*

              Totally agree Leatherwings. People who got their first jobs at a time when any warm body would do in most fields sound entitled (and ungrateful, and obliviously privileged, and..) themselves when they go off into “young people today” territory. Young people today should be getting all the sympathy possible from the older generations who screwed up the world so badly for them..

                1. AMT*

                  The crown jewel of that comment was the “culture of entitlement that we hear so much about.” Just where are “we” hearing these things? Clickbait articles? Hand-wringing thinkpieces written by people who think millennials are killing everything from engagement rings to chain restaurants? Other older people who last job-searched in 1988 and think it’s as simple as walking in and showing some gumption? I have never met a millennial who acts “entitled” to a job. I have met plenty who will take literally any job because they’re struggling so hard.

                2. krysb*

                  I love this meme so much. I might have to spend the rest of my day clicking through them.

                3. Jennifer Thneed*

                  I went and found some images of that Steve guy. To judge from his yearbook picture, he was in college around the same time I was. We’re neither of us boomers…

              1. Engineer Girl*

                As a member of the “older generation” I’d like to say that this remark is uncalled for. Let me assure you that the world was screwed up when we got here too.

                1. paul*

                  Agreed. There’s definitely been ebbs and flows in the economy over the years; it’s not just solely a “well this old generation screwed the pooch, boo them” thing anymore than it’s a “millennial are entitled!” thing.

                  Wiki list recessions in 53-54, 57-58,, 60-61, 69-70, 73-75, 80, 81-82, 90-91, 2001, and then the big ‘un, 07-09.

                  While the Great Recession was harsher than the others (again, according to wiki, I’m not an economics historian), it’s silly to think that other generations haven’t also started working careers during a recession, including some that were pretty serious. In fact, I kind of suspect that the “gumption” advice about cold calling about job opportunities may be a holdover from some of those (since that was pre-internet job listings and online applications).

                2. Engineer Girl*

                  Yes. I graduated in 81. My area had a 35% unemployment rate. I was competing against laid off engineers with 2 years experience.

                3. Jennifer Thneed*

                  How old are you? I’m in my 50’s. I think of boomers as “the older generation” and they really did have the experience of low-level jobs being easy to get when they were young, because the economy was expanding pretty fast in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

                  But when I was 18 and looking for those easy jobs, it was 1980 and things had already started slowing down. (It didn’t show as much then, unless you were in manufacturing.) I still got low-level jobs because I didn’t live in a factory town, but all those steel-mill-based towns in the Pittsburgh area? I’ll bet those were already hard to get jobs in for people fresh out of high school.

                  (And I think I’m not disagreeing with you, btw. I think we’re agreeing, at least on the general topic of generational in-fighting.)

                4. Engineer Girl*

                  Um, boomers were born in the 50s and 60s so we could hardly be working then.

                  The previous generation automatically got jobs at 18 fighting in WWII. Fifteen million died in that war.

                5. Bagpuss*

                  Engineer Girl, I’m curious about your definition of Boomers.

                  Maybe it’s used differently in the USA? I’ve always understood it to refer to those born in the Baby Boom immediately after WII, (as there was a big rise in birthrates following the end of the war, no doubt due to people like my grandparents who had not seen each other for 5 years and got married in 1945 when they both had a 2 week leave….)

                  So primarily those born in the period 1945-1955, with 1960 as the very end of that ‘generation’? This would mean that the original boomers would be entering the job market in the early to mid 60s
                  Aren’t those born after 1960 Generation X?

                6. Duck Duck Møøse*

                  Bagpuss, the ending year for Baby Boomers in the US seems to vary. I’ve seen it listed as anything from 1962 to 1965, depending on the source. I’m a 1964 baby. I don’t think I fit in with BB or GenX, but now that I’m old enough to join AARP and can see retirement in the near future, I’m leaning more with the BBs :) My parents consider themselves BBs, but they were both born in 1940.

            2. Working Mom*

              I have to agree here. I know plenty of young people professionally, and I don’t hear the masses saying they “don’t do customer contact.” Consider it this way – this daughter knows her strengths and weaknesses. That’s a positive. Plenty of people say “I’m a people person!” and it doesn’t mean they are willing to work harder than those who are not into dealing with people a lot and prefer to work behind the scenes.

            3. Liz in a Library*

              Agreed. I am so tired of hearing these stereotypes pop up literally every time a letter is posted about younger people.

          2. Murphy*

            I didn’t think you were attacking her, but it sounded to me (and to many other commenters) that the thing you were pointing out doesn’t exist in the letter.

          3. Blurgle*

            Except that’s cruel and incredibly prejudiced not just towards young people but toward introverts as well.

            1. AMT*

              Right, I think it’s okay to say, “I will only take such-and-such a job if there is no other option.” It is even okay to say, “For the sake of my mental health, which I know better than anyone else, I will not take customer service jobs, period, even if it means volunteering or not having a job for a while.” The LW explicitly stated that her daughter got a job this summer, is *not* desperate for a position, and has enough money set aside for her needs. This is actually a good lesson in real-world job-hunting: when you have those things, you can afford to wait for the right opportunity to come along.

              I turned down plenty of jobs before I got my current (awesome) job because I already had a job and was choosy about where I applied. If I hadn’t been, I might have accepted the first thing that came along and made a disastrous career decision. And I say this as someone who took every crap job that came my way in college.

              1. Salamander*

                Yes. This, all the way. She’s had jobs before that she didn’t like. She found a job, one she likes – and there seems to be resentment that she was able to do that without walking up the hill both ways in the snow.

                I don’t begrudge her that, at all. She’s clearly well-qualified enough to find a job that she likes.
                And she knows herself well enough to know what her strengths are. That’s what we want for everyone, right?

                She doesn’t have to suffer because she’s young.

                My feelings would be entirely different if she was just taking up couch-space, doing nothing, and refusing to take any job at all that didn’t meet her criteria. That would require a verbal boot in the backside. But she found one, it’s working well. What’s with all the hostility?

                1. AMT*

                  “She doesn’t have to suffer because she’s young.”

                  *That* pretty much sums it up. The fact that life his hard and the world can be cruel doesn’t mean that young people must always volunteer to take on the maximum amount of suffering possible like some kind of frat hazing ritual. So what if the daughter’s war stories in the future are more like “someone pulled the fire alarm at the museum” than “I got screamed at for having heatstroke and forgetting the onions”?

                2. Wheezy Weasel*

                  A college student who has a job related to a field of study and aligned with her personality and work style? Some of us are just now finding those jobs at middle age! Rock on, college student. You’re way ahead of the game.

                  Regarding family commentary, I bet if she had an entry level customer service job, there would still be people saying she should hold out for one that’s aligned with her field of study. There is no pleasing some folks.

                3. The Rat-Catcher*

                  She was in a position to wait for a job that she wanted, and she did. She may in the future have to take a job that might burn her out, but to say that this somehow means she needs to start on that right now makes no sense. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and you should get ahead in the early miles if you can.
                  You sound really logical, and like you are on your daughter’s team but you’re not afraid to have the This Is Real Life conversation when you need to (but you didn’t need to). I think you and she will be just fine.

              2. Decimus*

                When I was a college student I avoided retail and fast food jobs because I didn’t like working with the public. You know what I did instead?

                Moving. I helped haul a lot of heavy boxes and furniture. It was hard. It paid decently. And dealing directly with the customer was pretty much the boss’ job (on any level above “books go in this room over here”).

                It’s not entitled to have goals.

          4. Traffic_Spiral*

            Except that since there was nothing in the letter that implied she wasn’t willing to work entry level (just that she knew what she wasn’t good at) you’re just projecting your own views here. You might want to consider whether the rest of your opinion on “entitled millennials” is similarly you projecting in the absence of any proof.

          5. Trout 'Waver*

            You are attacking the letter writer’s daughter by attacking her entire generation. Every generation is just as entitled as the one that came before it.

          6. Grapey*

            It’s not just young people. My 60ish year old stepmother recently got laid off from being an admin assistant and was musing about how she couldn’t find another job.

            I would never dream of telling her that she was too picky, though I’ve cultivated some private schadenfreude since in the past she was fond of saying “there’s always burgers to flip” when it came to people wanting welfare.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Hahaha! I admit to feeling similar schadenfreude toward anyone who whines about “welfare queens” or “lazy bums on food stamps/public healthcare/whatever” and then ends up in need of the same aid they disdained.

              Unfortunately a lot of them still don’t get it, and will happily accept anything they qualify for while yelling about how those OTHER people on public assistance are all unworthy.

              Very often the unspoken distinction is “but of course *I* deserve it, I’m white.”

        2. Here we go again*

          Can you provide a source that says most lower level jobs require customer contact? There are a LOT of office jobs where they won’t let you interact with clients and customers until you reach a certain threshold. There are also jobs like filing, stocking, back of the house work at restaurants that don’t require regular interaction with the public.

          I don’t care whether or not Coming Up Milhouse is attacking the individual. I care that this claim of “entitlement” comes up at any point someone is talking about younger people. It prevents us from having any meaningful conversations about the actual topic.

          1. pope suburban*

            Yeah, I was a bit baffled too. You don’t get much more entry-level than, say, stocking shelves or working in the back end of a retail establishment, but these are not public-facing positions. Same with bussing tables, washing dishes, being a prep cook, cleaning/janitorial services (To an extent; I know a lot of those jobs are professional-level, but there are a fair few that aren’t), working in a warehouse a la Amazon, pet and house sitting, and low-level clerical positions. Honestly, I think it’s a good thing that the daughter knows what a good employment fit is so early on, because it’s something a lot of people only learn after making mistakes. As someone who has done what OP’s family is proposing and taken every available job, it’s largely been miserable (Nearly ten years in and I still hate dealing with people and answering a phone), it hasn’t done a whole lot to help me, and what I’ve learned is that I was right all along about dealing with the public sucking the life out of me. I wish OP’s daughter the best of luck, and I commend her on being thoughtful about her employment in a situation where she is able.

          2. Friday Night*

            This! If she hadn’t managed to find a job in her field (which she did, and that’s awesome!) she may have had to expand the pool of jobs that she was applying to (and may still have to do that in the future).

            However, as evidenced in the letter – she’s already shown a willingness to do entry level work scut work (working at a residential camp is NOT a vacation). I think as a mom OP did exactly the right thing, and if at post-graduation OP’s daughter can’t find a job in her field, I think the supportive thing to do is to brainstorm options. Even at the entry level, is entirely possible, from office jobs (Data Entry – AKA the Excel Monkey) to house painting and moving stones (ie landscaping – literal grunt work).

          3. Jennifer*

            Where? I would love to find one of those, but I seriously can’t find anything other than “first point of contact”/receptionist/phone jobs. I’m impressed this girl could find any.

            I actually used to have a job where I didn’t have to interact with the public, until I got transferred into doing so. God, I miss it.

          4. FunTillSomeoneLoosesAnEye*

            I worked a good deal of jobs that were “grunt / low level work” where i never saw the public so I too don’t get the “don’t want to deal with the public = don’t want to do entry level” idea either.

        3. Alton*

          There can be a big difference, though, between something like retail and something like being an entry-level admin. It may not be realistic to avoid contact with people unless you go into a very niche field, but there can be a big difference in what’s expected of you. I didn’t apply for anything heavily sales-related, for example, because I know I’m terrible at sales. But this eliminated a lot of job postings as there’s no shortage of commission-based sales work. It sounds like the OP’s daughter has enough experience to know that there are particular types of jobs, like supervising children, that she isn’t good at or comfortable with. That’s not entitlement.

          1. INTP*

            This, so much.

            I’m an introvert and specifically bad at handling too many people at once, especially if they’re angry with me. I’ve had corporate-type jobs with a customer service element in and after college, and it was fine. I had to be civil of course but no one was watching my face to make sure I was smiling or writing me up if a hint of emotion was apparent in my voice, and it was acceptable to take a short break between emails and phone calls if I needed it. I didn’t love harassing engineers to complete time sheets and surveys or fixing really basic tech issues but it didn’t make me miserable either, and I was praised for how amicably I could handle angry engineers and rehired every summer, and most importantly it led to a viable career path for me.

            On the other hand, when I briefly worked as a hostess at a restaurant and at a call center, I was absolutely awful. I was constantly reprimanded for my demeanor, I was overwhelmed and forgot policies, and I probably would have been fired if I didn’t quit both jobs pretty quickly. Totally different worlds. And I know people that are great servers that would probably feel too stifled to thrive in an office. I was bad at teaching too, I did it a few times when it made sense circumstantially and it was bad for me and the students both. No one is going to start a great career in something they hate, it’s GOOD that the OP’s daughter knows herself and what to look for in a job.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          There are literally hundreds of entry-level jobs that do not require any interaction with the public.

          Honestly, we should not be encouraging people to be “broad” so that they don’t become “entitled.” I don’t think OP’s advice, or her daughter’s experience, have any correlation with “entitlement culture.” As OP notes, her daughter simply narrowed her field. If her search had failed in that narrowed field, then, as Alison notes, it may have been appropriate to talk about a broader search. But that’s not the situation we were given.

          We do want people to figure out what they’re good at and where they can excel. I think we do a lot more harm telling people to adopt a blunderbuss approach to job searching simply because “any job is better than none.” And frankly, it’s a miserable experience working with people who are miserable at their jobs. I have nothing against grunt work—I spent a lot of my early work life doing it. But I don’t see any indication that OP’s daughter thought she was “too good” to pay her dues, which is what so-called “entitlement culture” is about.

          1. Mazzy*

            A lot of the jobs people here are mentioning are getting more and more obsolete. Payment processing, data entry, filing……..the number of those type of jobs has nosedived since the 90s. I wouldn’t be recommending them to someone as realistic jobs to me wait for

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              BLS’s occupational outlook statistics indicate a decline in jobs in the following “entry level” positions: secretaries/assistants, editors/copy editors, drafters (architectural & engineering), HR assistants (excluding payroll/timekeeping), medical transcriptionists, and “statistical assistants.” All other entry-level jobs that require a high school diploma, some college, a B.A. grew in 2016 and are projected to either hold steady or grow in 2017.

            2. Elizabeth H.*

              Maybe these types of jobs just aren’t as apparent or visible, because they’re not public-facing? . . .

          2. myswtghst*

            We do want people to figure out what they’re good at and where they can excel.

            Yes, this. It isn’t entitlement to recognize what you are good at, and to try to find jobs where you can put those skills to good use. And there is a vast gulf between work that isn’t fun but is totally doable, and work that drains the life out of you or raises your anxiety through the ceiling.

            OP’s daughter being smart enough to start by looking for work she can excel at is commendable, and a great way to start building up a good resume that isn’t full of jobs which lasted a very short time due to burnout or would be a terrible reference because job performance suffered based on a bad fit.

        5. Koko*

          Eh, I’m not sure I’d even agree that most lower level jobs require more customer contact. I’m an introvert and I worked a lot of jobs that were very solitary when I was in college. I did data entry/hygiene for a survey research firm for a long time – something they were always hiring people to do for only slightly more than minimum wage. I worked at a dog kennel, which although it included fun playing-with-dogs time, it also included a lot of cleaning-up-poop time, and almost no human contact for hours at a time. I worked as a night guard at a dorm, where the job was to sit at the desk to make sure that everyone coming into the dorm afterhours swiped their card and to call police if anything sketchy happened, where I again barely said five words per shift to another human. I had a community service gig when I was in high school assisting an elementary school janitor, which consisted of going around the classrooms after school and emptying all the trashcans, wiping down the kids’ desks, cleaning the blackboard, etc., and I was completely alone during all of these tasks.

          There are plenty of low-level tasks that don’t require public interaction, even though the service industry is the most commonly thought of low-level job.

          1. Natalie*

            I used to process checks for bank lockboxes (like for utility bills and such) and it was a fantastic job for a pretty introverted person that doesn’t like to stand all the time. I rented a gajillion books on tape and just listened to those through my entire shift.

            1. pope suburban*

              Oh my god, that sounds pretty fantastic. I had a job in college working for an inkjet-refilling company, and it was a lot like that. I’d just put my music on and check out while I applied stickers or boxed cartridges. The pay wasn’t great and it’s far from a career, but there was something meditative about being able to do my own thing and not needing to stop every five minutes to answer questions or fetch something.

          2. Decima Dewey*

            Wouldn’t it be better for someone like OP’s daughter to have a number of jobs suited to them that she does well than a series of jobs not suited to her and make her miserable? Wouldn’t employers prefer not to have to fire someone for being unable to do a job not suited to her in the first place?

          3. Miles*

            I am an introvert that made the exact same choice as OP’s daughter. So I worked cleaning bathrooms and outhouses in the local parks. My siblings made a similar choice and my brother worked on a building restoration crew that cleaned mold and asbestos from people’s attics and my sister cleaned hotel rooms at a dive hotel. I don’t see any of these jobs as “entitled” or avoiding “grunt work”. They were all pretty physical and often disgusting, but much better fits than retail. They’re also jobs that are going to be around much longer than retail: you can automate retail but it’s hard and expensive to automate a lot of labour jobs.

          4. shoebox16*

            I had a temp job as a “Document Imaging Assistant” at a medical billing facility where I scanned documents All. Day. Long. It was actually kind of great – I got a lot of reading done via audiobooks, and only had to talk to my boss and my officemate. It was definitely an entry-level, grunt-work type job, but with no public interaction whatsoever.

        6. Mike C.*

          This isn’t always true. In a lot of entry level jobs the grunt work consists of stocking shelves, cleaning, filing, that sort of thing. Seasonal farm labor doesn’t have much customer interaction either. I mentioned entry level lab work below where I was doing nothing but washing glassware, sterilizing equipment and so on.

          1. LaurenB*

            I have a friend who didn’t want to work evenings or weekends as a student that would cut into her socializing time. Sounds incredibly privileged and entitled, right? Well, she got around that by working in a slaughterhouse. No customer contact required either.

            1. Lissa*

              Ha! I love this! I think if you have a requirement/desire that might well cut out a lot of easily available jobs, having other areas in which you are going to be *less* picky than the average person is super helpful. I only think somebody’s being entitled if the attitude is dismissive towards those who *do* work the jobs you won’t, or if there’s never any compromise ever along with no awareness not all people can just “not compromise”.

          2. Mazzy*

            Ok we’re always going to find examples of a job that fits some type of description. That isn’t the question. The question is how many of those jobs exist, where do they exist, and is the person qualified

            1. Jessen*

              For this particular requirement, there are a lot of jobs that fit that sort of description that require no particular qualifications. Just in my own life – I’ve unloaded trucks (despite the stereotype, this doesn’t always require lots of strength). I’ve done janitorial work. I’ve stocked shelves overnight. Those are all jobs that aren’t going away soon and generally aren’t any harder to get than more traditional customer-facing jobs. Especially if she’s willing to work overnight, they often have better pay too.

            2. Mike C.*

              No, my point is that those sorts of jobs exist in large quantities. That ratio will increase over time, given the massive retail sector issues going on right now.

        7. The IT Manager*

          Do most entry level jobs require customer contact, though? I don’t necessarily agree with that statement. I just think the most common jobs mentioned for students fast food or waitressing requires that.

          Non-fast food separates servers from kitchen work. Cleaning (houses, hotel rooms, businesses) are usually done when customers are not around. Grounds keeping and lawn care has minimal customer interaction. Etc., etc., etc.

          1. TiffIf*

            I worked some janitorial jobs getting through college–I could listen to music and not interact with a single person (besides maybe the supervisor giving me an assignment) for hours at a time.

        8. Anon Anon*

          Actually, a lot of lower level jobs don’t require customer contact and a lot of higher level ones do. In my industry, it is common the newer people talk less with our clients until you prove you know the business enough and can communicate effectively with them. The VPs are the ones that have the meetings with our larger clients etc.

        9. Optimistic Prime*

          No, there are a lot of fields in which entry-level work doesn’t involve a lot of customer contact. And the OP never said her daughter simply doesn’t do it; she’d prefer a job in which she doesn’t have to do a lot of customer contact, which makes sense.

          1. LaurenB*

            Exactly, she worked as a freaking camp counselor for two years! If that’s not giving public-facing jobs a try, I don’t know what is!

        10. Elizabeth H.*

          I don’t agree, I think there are a lot of lower level jobs with minimal to zero customer contact. You can work for a moving company (I know a lot of people, and some teenagers who do this), be a dishwasher, be a hotel maid or work for a cleaning service, walk dogs, stock shelves in a warehouse, do data entry or filing, stuff envelopes at a nonprofit, put up fliers… I could probably keep going.

    3. Here we go again*

      There is nothing to indicate the daughter feels “entitled.”

      Seriously, every single comment about when a young person doesn’t want to do something, they are “entitled” is getting really old. The daughter doesn’t like working with people and she was in a financial position where she could be choosy and not apply for jobs that she would be miserable in. She chose to focus on jobs she would enjoy. Nothing wrong with that.

      1. Coming Up Milhouse*

        Hi. My overall point was that this leads to entitlement in GENERAL from a GROUP OF PEOPLE. There was nothing emphasizing the LW.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          I pretty strongly disagree that there’s more entitlement among young people at all. If you’re going to paint an entire generation with the same brush some sort of proof would be appreciated.

        2. Here we go again*

          If there was nothing emphasizing the letter writer, why did you bring it up? Entitlement complaints are just today’s version of “kids these days” and it’s getting annoying. Even when there is nothing to indicate entitlement, you are still going there FOR NO REASON.

          1. Kalamet*

            I think that vague “kids these days” comments stem from a general attitude I’ve observed recently, that condemns any manifestation of personal desire as “entitlement”. It’s entitled to feel that you should survive on 40 hours of work a week. It’s entitled to feel that you shouldn’t be at poverty level with a college degree. It’s entitled to search for a job that benefits you financially and emotionally. It is absolutely true that some people don’t have the luxury of choice; we should focus on how terrible *that* is, not castigating young people for thinking that life is more than subsistence and taking what you get.

            OP’s daughter is in the fortunate position where she could be choosy and get a job! We should be thrilled that she found something that she wants to do instead of something that she has to do. I’m really disappointed that there are people who would paint this with the brush of entitlement.

            And I’ll get off my soapbox now…

            1. Eric*


              The definition of entitlement is “placing any of your own desires above any of mine” to a lot of managerial types and kids-these-days types.

              I just had a recruiter call me entitled for rejecting a position 3 hours away when I’m already employed and I can walk to work.

              1. Mike C.*

                I hope you were in a position to ask them why any sane person in your position would take such an offer.

                1. Eric*

                  I just hung up. I’m too entitled to talk to confrontational losers who can’t accept a polite “no,” let alone massively inconvenience myself and my family to help some cold calling stranger get a commission a little more easily.

                2. MashaKasha*

                  ^ Right? Sounds to me like he’s the entitled one. He doesn’t even know you, yet he thinks you owe it to him to screw your own life over in a multitude of ways because he’ll get money out of it?

                3. Eric*


                  I think this whole stereotype of “millennials” being bratty, demanding, and entitled has caused young people entering the workforce to behave in the opposite way. Many of the other under-30s I work with are very meek and don’t assert themselves at all. Which might be the point of saying it over and over again.

                  Just my experience. But the plural of anecdote is data.

                4. Mike C.*

                  Yeah, I’m so entitled I would have demanded to know what sort of drugs he was on to think I would have seriously considered such a deal.

                  But you clearly have more important things to do. :p

              2. The Rat-Catcher*

                It annoys me how maligned we are for not taking jobs whose postings go like, “want minimum of a four-year degree plus industry experience. Position is part-time. Must be available early mornings, late nights, weekends, and holidays. Benefits include high deductible insurance after 180 days and one week paid vacation, accrued through the course of the first year. $7.70/hr”
                We are not the entitled ones.

            2. BookishMiss*

              This is a fantastically articulate way to address this. May have to pocket for future use. Thank you!

        3. CityMouse*

          Yeah I am pretty sick of these “entitled kids” comments given statistically people the daughter’s age are actually far more job focused than the people doing the lecturing were. I will actually dig up the study.

        4. Ros*

          Having managed a mid-level team filled by people in their mid-20s and people in their late 50s, I’d strongly encourage people to look at groups that feel entitled to things in the opposite way. It’s not the 23-year-old who told me “I don’t perform until I’m given the promotion, give me the promotion and THEN I’ll show you what I can do”. (The 23-year-old had her faults, mostly due to not yet understanding office environments and expectations, but man she worked hard.)

          Oh, that’s just an anecdote? So is every story about entitled millenials wanting to get paid for their experience-building 60-hour work-weeks. “The youth today *vapors*” is… passé. And was passé 2000 years ago.

          1. many bells down*

            Also anecdotally; my sister is 22, just graduated college with her THIRD degree (two AA, one BA). Her last year she was going to school full-time, working full-time, AND she got a part-time job in the field she was about to graduate with the BA in. She’s been living on her own since literally the day she turned 18.

            That’s a hell of a lot harder than I had to work when I was her age. “Lazy and entitled”, my ass.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Excuse me for being blunt, but this is so flat out wrong. Evidence just doesn’t support the conclusion you’re drawing. There have been a lot of really thorough and excellent discussions in the past on this issue, and I think it’s worth taking a look, just because there are cites to really excellent sources/articles that discuss these issues in depth.

          I think you’re getting strong pushback because your point is emphasizing a stereotype that has been debunked pretty thoroughly. And I’d really encourage you to reexamine the idea that young people (or younger workers) are “entitled.” In my experience, entitlement has less to do with your age and more to do with your life experiences and upbringing.

        6. Not a millennial, but I feel like one*

          “My overall point was that this leads to entitlement in GENERAL from a GROUP OF PEOPLE.”
          It most certainly does not. You’re stereotyping people based on bad data.

        7. Mike C.*

          Define your terms and make a case for it. You’re just making declarative statements here. Show us how this affects this specific group in ways it doesn’t affect other groups.

        8. Haggis MacHaggis*

          No, you’re just seeing things and connecting dots where no connection exists. There is absolutely *notjing* in the letter that warrants that connection. Take a chill pill.

        9. Trout 'Waver*

          Knowing what you want doesn’t lead to or cause entitlement. Also, extrapolating your incredibly wrong on every level mischaracterization to an entire generation is not only completely wrong, but also dismissive, rude, and mean.

      2. Bella*

        I agree. The daughter knows what she’s looking for in a job and is working to find a position that suits her. We see “bad fit” discussions here a lot and I believe the advice is generally to look for a better fit and not force yourself to do a job that you just aren’t good at if you have other options. But when it comes time to make sweeping generalizations about an entire generation, we’d rather frame these discussions as entitlement, rather than self-awareness.

        1. Merida Ann*

          Precisely, if someone is miserable working with numbers, then they should probably avoid applying to accounting jobs if possible. If someone is absolutely miserable working outdoors, they should seek out jobs that are in an office location. And if someone is miserable working with retail customers or small children, then they should try to find jobs that don’t involve those elements. It’s not entitlement to seek out a job that you are well suited for. You’re not going to do good work when you are miserable, so it’s not going to be the best situation for anyone involved – employee or employer.

      3. #WearAllTheHats*

        Yes, Here we go again, THIS. ^

        Opinion about family opinions: Keep it to yourself, grandma.

        I think we’re missing something big here: SHE GOT A JOB. I was working three minimum wage jobs to exist in Flint, MI. I’ve worked consistently with no major breaks since I was 14. I paid my dues and my poverty-line parents did what they could, which is to say not very much. I couldn’t afford to be quite as choosey at the time given my circumstances and the job market where I lived.

        Meanwhile, my sister thinks it’s okay to have her 19 yo daughter sleep all day and whine about cleaning the cat box because “chores are HARD OMG.” She gets C’s and she isn’t required to get a job or even help around the house aside from doing her own laundry. THAT is entitled BS (and the one thing that irritates me about my oldest sister).

        The OP’s daughter got a job and it happened to be befitting. That’s pretty kick-a$$ in my book. I think it’s great she said, “This is how I’m wired,” and went for it. I think it’s good to stretch your boundaries re: learning to work with people as a foundational building block, but finding something in your niche is a blessing.

    4. Mike C.*

      Could you go into a little detail as to what exactly “this” is, and how it leads directly to a “culture of entitlement”, “privilege’ and/or “attitude”?

      You also realize that lots of industries have grunt work that has nothing to do with working with the public or children specifically, right? I was a lab rat for a long time, and I spent many, many hours doing nothing but washing glassware. Still aligned with my degree!

      1. Blurgle*

        Because it’s evil and picky and “entitled” to be introverted, apparently. How dare the LW’s daughter not torment herself?

        1. Salamander*

          I think there’s a strong undercurrent of this, yes.

          I’m an introvert. I have taken and dealt with public-facing positions when I’ve had to, in order to pay the rent. But when I’ve had a choice in my career, like now, I choose non-public-facing roles.

          I play to my strengths. Doing so is not a privilege reserved for older generations. I’m not entitled for doing so, and I hate seeing a double-standard applied to Millenials.

          I think wanting the daughter to work fast-food is a desire to humble her, jealousy, or resentment that she’s not outgoing. None of these are valid impulses. I think the original LW should push back against her family, draw a bright line. She needs to let her family know that she’s proud of her daughter, and she’s not going to put up with any further sniping about it.

    5. Howdy partner*

      Eh I don’t think that that really applies to LWs daughter. As the LW said her daughter was willing to volunteer all summer if it came down to it. She is actually being very wise. Since she doesn’t need the money it would probably look better on a resume to have field related experience than fast food experience

    6. Hannah*

      I don’t think that looking at your circumstances and deciding that you don’t want to apply for jobs you hate is entitlement. In this situation, the daughter had the lucky option to be able to refrain from working completely if she could not find a job she wanted. She didn’t claim she was entitled to one–she decided she didn’t want a fast food or childcare job, and wasn’t desperate enough to take one.

      Being choosy is indeed a place of privilege, but if you are so lucky to be in a place where you can be choosy, you’re not obligated to take the first job that will hire you. It makes much more sense for your long-term plans to find something that will give you experience in something you want to pursue. Being choosy at this time probably set her up much better for job searching in the future–so she can continue to be choosy and not be in the position of having to take a job she hates.

      1. LCL*

        I think you nailed it, Hannah. OP and daughter have some privilege. OP is just stating their circumstances and what is true for them. For those that come from less privileged backgrounds those circumstances can seem like entitlement, but it’s OPs reality. I did have to read the letter twice; some of her statements seemed a bit arrogant to me but were really just statements of fact. When I was in OP’s daughter’s place, my reality was take any job you can get. It can be irritating to hear how good other people have it, even though nobody has done anything wrong.

        The only thing OP and daughter are doing ‘wrong’ is to share this much business with their family. And that is coming from a good place, Mom is trying to help daughter. It’s not helping, don’t tell the relatives so much info. And tell daughter she doesn’t have to stay and listen to a lecture if she doesn’t want to.

      2. HannahS*

        Yeah, I think the distinction between “entitled” and “privileged” is important. They second can often cause the first, but they’re not the same thing. “I’m wealthy enough to wait for an entry-level job that suits me, and if one doesn’t come along I’ll do it for free” is so, so different from, “I’m wealthy enough that I shouldn’t have to take an entry level job, can’t I just be promoted already ugh this is so haaaaard.”

        1. Here we go again*

          It is also really sad that based on today’s standards, something as simple as being from a family that is financially stable where they can help out their (almost) adult kids a little is considered “privileged”…. It’s like being unstable and not being able to afford to take care of the basic needs of relatives has become the norm.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Privileged isn’t being used as a synonym for wealthy/well-connected in comparison with society overall. My understanding of its modern use is that it’s intended indicate that someone has an advantage in a particular area that all other people do not. It’s phrasing I find kind of awkward, but it’s intended to call attention social inequality.


      1. Mike C.*

        I think we’re having a productive discussion here, and folks can collapse the comments as Princess Consuela Banana Hammock pointed out.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          It’s not about the length of the thread, it’s about the constant derailing of threads lately with barely on-topic comments and people not willing to let go of their point of view to an annoying extreme.

    7. Cookie*

      Whoa, I think you’re reading things that aren’t in this letter at all. As a manager you should know that a worker who can excel at the job (or at least provide mediocre performance) is preferable to a worker who fails, potentially disastrously and scares off clients. You don’t want an employee that’s a poor fit any more than this student wants to be in a situation where she’s setting herself up for failure. Being in the right position is best for both parties.

      1. Coming Up Milhouse*

        But as a manager, I’m not going to take “I dont do that because I dont like it” when it may come up in the course of the job.

        I dont like TPS reports but they are a small part of my job. I still grit through them. If this person cannot handle the public at all, what happens if she has to answer a phone? Do a site visit? Interact with co-workers for a long period of time?

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          She worked as a camp counselor, and nothing in the original letter says that she was fired or resigned in disgrace; she just didn’t enjoy it and would rather not do that sort of work again. That’s an intensely interpersonal job that even many extroverts wouldn’t be able to do well.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But you’re jumping to a huge conclusion here. It’s very normal to pick jobs you’re interested in and are good at. Not just normal, but wise. Most people try to do that. It doesn’t indicate they’re going to decline to do the parts of those jobs that are less interesting. Assuming that the daughter doing something very normal that most people do as a matter of course (applying to the jobs that interest her most) means that she’ll be bizarrely entitled once on the job doesn’t have any basis to it … so it’s coming across as just an ax to grind against young people.

        3. Murphy*

          But as a manager, I’m not going to take “I dont do that because I dont like it” when it may come up in the course of the job.

          Nor should you. But that’s why she chose not to even apply for jobs that focus on things she doesn’t like/isn’t good at, which seems perfectly reasonable. OP says that daughter’s job involved “minimal” (not none) contact with the public, so it sounds like she can handle it in small doses.

        4. Jessie the First (or second)*

          You are making an enormous leap from “I am introverted and don’t do well with customer service, and don’t like it” over to “I won’t do anything I don’t like.”

          Every job has aspects that someone will not like. There is not a single thing to indicate the daughter here refuses to follow her manager’s direction – only that she recognizes her strengths and weaknesses and has particular field she is studying, and certain industries she does not want to work in. That’s…. normal.

          I mean, I don’t want to work somewhere if I have to be outside all day, and so I never applied to landscaping jobs. Doesn’t mean that when my boss now asks me to write a memo, I refuse because I only do what I want.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            I actually don’t think it’s normal… I think it’s abnormally self-aware for a person at the beginning of their career to know what kinds of roles will suit them well. She’s ahead of the curve.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              I thought the same thing! Good for her for ruling things out (or as second choices) early.

              Half the people I manage are in an entry level job that they are trying out for size, and, for a good number of them, it’s not what they want to do professionally, and that’s fine as long as they do good work while they’re here and give proper notice when it’s time to move on. They still learn valuable skills being here, and they are translatable (based on where my folks go after they leave) to myriad different careers.

              Just do not get the comments about this girl being entitled. She’s in university and has apparently already worked multiple summers in different capacities, none of which sound picky or high-end. She’s not laying about the house waiting for her dream job to fall into her lap; rather, she’s tried out jobs and submitted a dozen applications to those she thinks are best suited to her. There is no indication that she refused to perform her job or that she was fired from those jobs, even though she has established they’re not her preferred type of employment. Plus, she’s advancing through university, and, in your last year or two, you want your work experience to better reflect what you want to do professionally post-graduation.

          2. Emmie*

            It would be helpful to expose and train OP’s daughter to interactions with the public, clients (or unfamiliar colleagues / vendors), and coworkers. Even though these are aspects of work she doesn’t like, she’ll benefit from having these soft skills as she progresses in her career. Alison’s advice is spot-on. I’d think about how to support her natural strengths, but also build those other skills outside of work.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I might be misreading—doesn’t OP’s daughter already have experience interacting with the public, unfamiliar colleagues, and clients? She worked with children at summer camps and learned she didn’t enjoy ongoing, heavy public interaction. But that doesn’t mean she’s a shut-in with no experience working with the public…

              1. Emmie*

                True. As someone who is introverted at times, I’ve had to evaluate my interactions with others as I’ve progressed in my career. The same customer service tools I learned as a high school student working a reception area needed to evolve as I’ve attained higher levels in my (now) career.

            2. Natalie*

              For what it’s worth, it’s entirely possible that she’s perfectly capable of doing these things, and even will cheerfully do them on a limited basis, but understands that she doesn’t want a job that is mostly composed of these things.

              I really hate standing in place. I don’t know why, frankly I don’t care as it doesn’t affect my life much. Assuming I have literally any other option, I’m not going to take a job in retail where I will need to stand 100% of the time. But if my boss wants to do 10 minute standing meetings every day, I’ll be perfectly fine with that.

              1. Emmie*

                Absolutely. We all have to look at ourselves as we advance and figure out whether or preferences are holding us back. In your standing instance, I don’t think that’d ever hold you back! My natural preference is to mix project or research focused things with people interactions. I’ve had to get comfortable working outside my preference at times for my career. (Heck, I still need to work in some areas.) It’s pretty insightful that the daughter is already thinking of these this.

          3. Decima Dewey*

            Most people, if possible, would prefer a job that utilizes their strengths than one that ends up being an ongoing struggle against their weaknesses.

            I can do X if I grit my teeth and put my mind to it. Given a choice, I’d rather do Y. That’s not the same as refusing to do X.

        5. CoveredInBees*

          Who says she can’t do these things as needed? She just focused on jobs where they aren’t the core requirements. I’m quite introverted and choose jobs accordingly. I can lead meetings, give presentations, cold call people, etc here and there and am pretty good at it when it is sporadic. But as my main job? It’s not good for me or my employer.

        6. Alton*

          I think you may be underestimating how demanding it can be to interact with the public in a field like retail or childcare. This isn’t a minor thing–it’s a huge aspect of those jobs. To excel at childcare in particular, you really need to be comfortable interacting with children and being a good authority figure, and a lot of people don’t have a temperament for that.

          The type of customer service interaction I had when I worked in retail was really different than the type of interaction I have now with coworkers and the public as an admin.

          1. Annabelle*

            Yeah, this. I worked a lot of customer service type jobs in high school/early college and they are exhausting. Dealing with angry retail customers is worlds away from answering the phone and speaking to a business associate.

          2. many bells down*

            I was a preschool teacher for 10 years. It’s *exhausting*. I won’t go back to it now, and that’s one of the reasons. You have to be “on” all day and I just don’t have the capacity for it anymore.

          3. aebhel*

            Right. I had a couple of disastrous babysitting jobs in high school and concluded that I never wanted to do that again–doesn’t mean that I can’t interact with children at all, just that I don’t want to be doing it for 8 hours a day, every day.

          4. Holly*

            Being able to teach pre-school is intensely personal. I was a pre-school teacher during the summer for years. I loved it, but it’s exhausting. I am also an introvert, but interacting with children is vastly different from interacting with adults. It’s not really a ‘social’ interaction, and being extroverted or introverted isn’t the ‘key’ to being able to handle it. It’s more like having the knack to herd cats. You are the only adult in a room full of children – and that’s not figurative like it is at most jobs. ;)

          5. Liane*

            It is exhausting, and to be honest, I have been thinking commenters using stocking shelves as an example of an entry job that doesn’t require a lot of customer interaction have either not done it recently or haven’t been doing it in a store.
            I am doing a lot of that right now, and nope-nope-nope my big rack of apparel that I am putting on other shelves/racks doesn’t insulate me from customer interaction. Not just the parade of people asking “where’s the restroom/price scanner/lingerie and btw when are you closing down?” that I can answer in 2 seconds. There’s also the longer stuff, like helping customers find stuff when they don’t have a clue what size they wear, whether Women’s or Misses sizes are the same, or that since this store is shutting down permanently the answer to “When are you getting more?” is going to be “Sorry, we won’t.” Which means that I may be spending 30 minutes with one person, and the only useful thing I can do (that isn’t rude like walking off) is remind them kindly, “Company won’t allow ANY returns during the Closure Sale, so please try things on if you aren’t sure about the size. I don’t want to see you get stuck with something, and will be happy to show you to the fitting rooms.”

            1. pope suburban*

              Most of the people I knew who worked as stockers worked night shifts, which is part of why I think of it as a minimal-contact job. If you’re working during the day, yeah, it has the potential to be quite different.

          6. Elizabeth H.*

            Right and even people who genuinely like and are good at customer facing roles don’t necessarily want a job where its entire raison d’etre is having yourself be available to other people let alone kids, which is what being a camp counselor is. I love talking to people and am great with customer facing scenarios (I worked in retail for 8 years through high school and college) but I could not take being a camp counselor or teacher for my entire job (I’ve done it). That level of being 110% “on” and available to anyone and everyone demanding your attention is beyond the typical customer facing role. In other words some jobs are too intensely interpersonal even for “normal” people with no strong preferences or abilities about it.

        7. animaniactoo*

          There is a difference between disliking a portion of your job (and going ahead and doing it anyway) and disliking the majority of your job.

          This young person has narrowed down jobs based on having tried out some – so they’re certainly not sitting around and just waiting for the perfect job. Nor (as far as we know) did they quit the job that they didn’t like ahead of time.

          As a manager, you SHOULD want people who don’t want to do MOST of the job not to apply for that position.

          There’s absolutely nothing in the letter that says the daughter would be unwilling to do things like answering the phone and interacting with people/kids as a small portion of the job, so I’m not sure why this is hitting you so hard?

        8. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          That’s not what’s happening, though. She’s not refusing to do work; she’s making choices about what kind of work to pursue.

          As for privilege… it sounds like this young woman IS privileged, in that she doesn’t have to worry about earning an income to pay for college. That allows her greater flexibility in making these kinds of choices than those of us who didn’t have that luxury. That’s OK. She’s in a position to be able to be picky about her work — and, frankly, being picky about her work in the ways that the letter describes is only going to be good for her career. It sounds like she’s going to be able to graduate from college with several summers’ worth of experience that is relevant to the career she wants to start. Good for her!

          1. Junior Dev*

            And I’m not sure how taking a job that could have gone to someone with fewer options is helping anyone.

            I remember having this mental process when I was on unemployment, thinking about the various ways they make you look for work: “I could just apply to a job at the grocery store. But not only would that be bad for me individually, it would be bad for society if software developers were competing with grocery store clerks for jobs, so I’m glad the unemployment office is not making me do that.”

          2. Koko*

            Thank you for making that point too – privilege isn’t a dirty word. It’s a descriptive one that people have attached a lot of cultural baggage to because they don’t like the concepts that it makes them confront, like “fat” being seen as an insult rather than a descriptive term. Having privilege doesn’t make you a bad person. Having privilege that you’re oblivious to or refuse to acknowledge will increases the odds of feeling entitled, but privilege and acting entitled aren’t the same thing. It’s fine to have privilege, really lucky even! We’re just supposed to remember when we have it and maybe offer a helping hand to someone who doesn’t have it, once privilege puts us in the position to be able to offer help.

        9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Also, I’ll hazard a guess that Alison and the commenters would have a different response if some of the details were different: if the daughter had never worked before; if she’d been looking for months without any success; if she needed an income and couldn’t find a job that met her requirements; etc.

        10. Fleahhhh*

          That’s totally different though. It sounds like LW’s daughter is saying “I recognize this about myself so I am choosing to seek jobs that play to my strengths”. It seems like she has a good degree of insight about herself. It also seems like the opposite of entitlement, particularly that she’s willing to volunteer to build a work history in a field that suits her and her strengths.

        11. Mike C.*

          Look, let me be direct here – I don’t apply for jobs that involve direct interaction with customers or childcare, and I’m a Millennial. Does this make me entitled? Why or why not?

        12. JamieS*

          There’s a difference between refusing to perform a job duty at a job and being picky about what jobs you apply for when circumstances allow you to be picky. Yes if OP’s daughter let’s say was hired as a cashier and refused to be around customers that’d be a major issue. However that’s very clearly not the case.

      2. Fafaflunkie*

        100% this. I’ve read this comment thread and scratch my head over all the resentment over the fact OP’s daughter can figure out, from previous job experience and her personality traits, that she’s better suited for (and better positioned to) accepting jobs that will help her pad her resume and give her positive references when she goes for her first career position post graduation.

        Rather than poop on her, why not encourage this type of mindset? It’s not like she’s looking for her dream job right now. It may be different if she were desperate for money and the only jobs available were at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s. But it’s not the case here.

    8. Allison*

      I don’t think she’s opposed to “grunt work,” she just doesn’t want to work with the public. Seems like she could get a decent entry-level office job at the rate she’s going, even if it’s something boring like data entry. If not, she can find a job working in a kitchen or something, rather than as a waitress.

      I think it’s good that she knows what sort of job she’s not a fit for, and what sort of work she wants to aim for in her next job search.

    9. L.*

      “Privilege and attitude?” Let me turn around the stereotyping here — too many managers think it’s still the recession, when they could force employees to accept low pay and the like because jobs were scarce. Fast forward eight years, the labor market has recovered, but too many companies still don’t want to shell out pay and benefits to attract younger employees. These younger employees, OF COURSE, opt for the jobs that meet their skills and pay them well. Companies, instead of looking inward and providing some market-rate benefits, decide the problem isn’t them, it’s millennial “entitlement.” Unfair generalization? Absolutely, on both sides.

      1. Koko*

        Yes, let’s talk about the “companies want employees who are already trained but don’t want to provide training” trope as well!

    10. Ros*

      OP: I’m a bit like your daughter, in that honestly I’m happiest when buried in spreadsheets and not talking to people for 8 hours. This is a good thing to know about yourself before you accept a job where the company culture involves a lot of chatting and meetings, for example! (Note, to the first commenter: a whole lot of entry-level jobs don’t require working with people. If being utterly miserable for 40-60 hours a week is what it takes to prove adulthood, count me out – that’s a crap bargain).

      I’m in my mid-30s now, and I’ve been completely on my own since I graduated university at 23. My parents sound… a whole lot like those relatives. It’s wearing, and annoying, to have to listen to someone tell you this stuff over and over (’cause yeah, sure, dad, I should take the job that’ll make me miserable for more money, and then I should spend that extra money on bourbon to medicate the misery, and then I’ll be the 4th generation on that pattern, Woo-hoo…. things I’m never gonna say but maaaan sometimes it’s hard to hold back). Advice that worked for me: 1) stop sharing info, so they’ll stop having opinions. 2) start with a come-back that’s neutral but closes the door firmly (“this is what I’m doing now, obviously I’ll change tactics if necessary, but I’m doing fine, how is your child/dog/cat/parent/hip doing”), 3) close the door VERY firmly if #2 needs to be said more than 5-6 times. (“Dad. I have never asked you for money and my retirement is more well-funded than yours. You can tell me what you think about my job when I can tell you what to do about your retirement portfolio, hmm.”)

      Polite? No. But if people can walk over the avoidance and bash through the gate of politeness, then the fires of burning bridges might illuminate the issue.

    11. Been there!*

      Didn’t get any sense of entitlement either. I identify with the LW’s daughter in that I’m also an introvert and I’ve had family who have been repeatedly telling me I need to switch jobs or that what I’m doing is not working, etc.

      I’ve been on the other side and went with whoever hired me and usually I was completely miserable. There’s certainly an argument in not being picky and just having experience to put on your resume/you need the money, etc. but if she’s not happy is it really fair to her OR the organization that hires her?

    12. MuseumChick*

      I see zero entitlement or anything that leads to entitlement here. The daughter 1) Got work experience that was public facing (working with kids) and based on that come to a formed the opinion that she would be a better fit for jobs that 1) did not involve kids. 2) had limited interaction with the public. She then took the initiative to carefully screen her job application for the kind of positions she wanted. 3) She analyzed her financial situation and found herself in a position to be a little more choosy than most people in her age group can be. Good for her. 4) She landed a job that suits her, which will give her experience in, and greater access to, similar jobs.

      This seems to be a young lady with a good head on her shoulders who is forging a career path that she will like. I hate the argument of “Well I and almost everyone I know have had a job we hated so you need to have a job you hate also!” Let’s not get down on someone who has happened to find a career path that works for her early on in life.

    13. paul*

      How is it entitled to prefer a job that plays to your strengths? This confuses the hell out of me.

      It’d be one thing if she talked about her daughter being “above” those jobs, or if the daughter was refusing to lower her sights if the situtation warranted, but that doesn’t seem to be the case so…

    14. aebhel*


      I’m also a shy introvert who hates dealing with the public; there are plenty of grunt/entry level jobs that don’t require significant people skills or social interaction (my first job out of college was as a housekeeper–how’s that for entitlement?).

      Knowing your limits and what kind of workplaces you can tolerate is a good thing. It doesn’t mean you don’t expect to do grunt work, but it does mean that a shy introvert probably doesn’t want to be applying for sales jobs just because they happen to be open.

    15. Laney M.*

      2007: “You damn well BETTER go to college, or else you’re going to wind up working at Starbucks!”

      2017: “What, you think just because you went to college you’re too good to work at Starbucks?”

      1. LadyKelvin*

        At that point I want to ask people if they’ve ever tried to get a job at starbucks, because its not that easy. Especially in the height of the recession because there were SO MANY people who were trying to work in fast food/retail type jobs that they were practically impossible to get if you were overqualified, even if you couldn’t get a job doing anything else either.

        1. Laney M.*

          Seriously! I came to NYC in 2011 with two years of experience as a barista and several years of food service before that, and the only barista job I could find was an hour and a half away from where I was living.

    16. Jady*

      As one of these ‘entitled millennials’ (early 30s), this comment reads “I was miserable, you should be too!”

      It’s fine to say ‘just make sure she understands that she may not always have the luxury of being choosy’, but you’re assuming far too much and being surprisingly judgmental.

      The girl didn’t need a job and it specifically said she was willing to volunteer. I’d do the same thing in her shoes.

    17. Anna*

      Wow. As someone who works with young adults who are getting training to get better jobs so they aren’t living in poverty, I can tell you that the exact opposite is mostly true. I am constantly battling my students to NOT take the first thing that comes along because it will A. Not be full-time. B. Will pay minimum wage. And C. Will most likely have nothing at all to do with the training they received and all the hard work they put into their education. I just had to talk a student down from applying at Baskin Robbins because I knew she could do much, MUCH better. It’s time for us all to move on from that stupid “entitlement” argument. There’s very little valid in it.

    18. The Other Katie*

      If you were looking for a job, found one that suited you, and started working, would you then go apply for jobs that don’t make any sense for your level of knowledge and experience, temperament and preferences, just to keep your relatives happy? No, of course you wouldn’t. None of us would. It doesn’t make any sense for this young woman to do so either, and it’s not a sign of “entitlement” at all.

    19. Not So NewReader*

      I have a 50 something year old friend who says the same thing, she is not willing to do public facing work. This friend is always employed. She is never without work and her employer loves her. Not only is she reliable but she is interested in solving problems.
      I don’t think this young woman has to put herself where she knows she will fail.

    20. Artemesia*

      And see what I got from this letter is the important of assorted relatives, friends and other adults to shut up and let the graduate make their way unless she has asked for their help.

      Time to shut down the information train to ‘interested’ meddlers. Your daughter will figure out she needs to take a job any job if she reaches a point where she needs a job to eat. The best way to assure she can get the kind of job she wants when she graduates is to do that kind of work as job or as internship now before she graduates. I hope as a senior she will do an internship with a company that might be a future employer; that would probably be the easiest way for her to make the transition.

      But ‘concerned bystanders’ really need to shut up. You need to find a charming and graceful way to say that and everyone needs to stop justifying what your daughter’s strategy is.

  2. Myrin*

    I agree with Alison and also want to add that I think “a couple of dozen positions” is actually plenty to apply for!

    1. Anonygoose*

      Speaking as someone who applied for 60-100 positions each summer for a few years in a row, no, it’s really not. It can be haaaaaaard to find a summer job, and I think it’s great it worked for the OP’s daughter this time, but it’s not always that easy and many students can’t afford to be that picky!

      1. Myrin*

        Hm, this seems to be dependent on regional and cultural points, then. Where I am, students who want to work during the summer have about five to ten positions to pick from, so sixty to one hundred seems insane to me and the OP’s more than twenty seems like plenty but yeah, I didn’t realise this differs so much.

        (I still don’t think that it’s a number for the relatives to scoff at, though. It’s not like she applied for two jobs over the course of six weeks and then called it a day.)

      2. kb*

        I think a couple dozen applications and having gotten a job means it was plenty in her situation. Why apply for more when it worked?

        1. Rainy, PI*

          It’s always in the last place you look–because when you find it *you stop*. :P

        1. Amy G. Golly*

          I don’t think I’ve applied to 100 positions in my life. That’s not snark: I think it’s a pretty accurate estimate. And I’m 35 and on my second career.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I agree. You can paper the town if you want. But I think it is wiser to consider each opening and how well I would fit that situation.

            I had a friend who sent out a 100 resumes a week. He came up empty. I was not surprised. A family member was surprised and I said, “Friend is not even looking to see if it’s a good fit.”

          2. Thyme*

            I’m honestly incredibly jealous. I applied to probably two hundred during and after university (2015), and I was going into a field where people were shocked! shocked! I did not have a job yet (finance.)

        2. Anna*

          During the height of the recession, I did apply for a LOT of positions and it took me a long time to find something. It just depends, but it’s definitely not something to judge someone about if they applied for a couple dozen jobs and it worked for them. If it hadn’t, the OP’s daughter most likely would have applied for more.

          Hey OP, your family needs to butt out.

      3. Bella*

        She found a job and had multiple interviews from that batch, which may be why her applications stopped at a couple dozen.

      4. Nieve*

        You dont even know what field the OP’s daughter was looking for jobs in. Job availability hugely differ between fields so it really isnt fair to say ‘she ONLY applied for a couple dozen? thats NOTHING because I applied for up to 100!!!’.

        And who’s to say that she isn’t good at what she does + job search, so she that didn’t ‘need’ to apply more than what she applied for before landing a job?

      5. M-C*

        Maybe Anonygoose applied kind of randomly to those hundreds of positions? It sounds like the OP’s daughter chose carefully what she’d be most qualified for, which clearly paid off. In job searching, quantity is a poor substitute for quality. Congratulations OP in having a daughter who understands that, and who’s working on her long-term employability by choosing suitable jobs to apply for/work at.

        1. Anonygoose*

          No, I applied to things I was pretty well qualified for – but in my region many, many students are unable to find summer jobs (and I wasn’t financially able to move for just the summer, so I had to work either in my home city or university city). It’s gotten better in the last few years, but the economy was making it so that even seasonal jobs were taken by older people who had been laid off by the many factories in my hometown, or laid off by the major tech company in my uni town. My point was just that a couple of dozen jobs isn’t a lot to many students because it can be more of a struggle than people realize, and can be terrifying if you need a summer job just to get by. I think that the OPs daughter was lucky that she didn’t have to financially depend on a job, because it can be very difficult to be picky in that situation. I think the OP does a good job recognizing the privilege her daughter has (and it sounds like the daughter recognizes it to, and doesn’t take it for granted).

          I always found a job, but among my friends I was the lucky one for even finding that.

        2. Koko*

          Yeah, I’ve tended to apply as OP’s daughter did.

          The job I left grad school to take was the one and only job I’d applied for – if I hadn’t gotten it I’d have stayed in school.

          When I left that job, which I was doing with some urgency due to a dysfunctional situation, I applied for 16 positions over the course of a month, got 4 interviews, and 1 offer which I accepted.

          When I was ready to leave that job there was no real urgency so I took my time and applied for 9 positions that looked attractive enough to be worth the whole hassle of changing jobs, over about a 12-month period, which yielded 3 interviews and 1 offer which I accepted.

          I’ve been in that job for 5 years now and can’t even describe how perfect the job is for me, I’m so glad that I took my time and only applied to jobs that I was genuinely excited about because it resulted in me landing the best job I’ve ever had where I’m very happy and successful.

      6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I suspect this is regional or field specific. Yes, it’s hard to find a paying summer job in one’s field, and even the “typical” summer jobs that OP’s relatives advised are super competitive (retail, food service, summer camp).

        That said, “several dozens” is a crap ton of applications, even if you’re doing a focused search. 60-100 only makes sense to me if you’re in a very competitive field, a region with limited employment opportunities, or you’re applying across all sectors.

        1. Sylvia*


          “Several dozen” is more than I would have been able to find when I graduated from college. It’s still more than there are in many fields where I live now, which isn’t a small college town.

          Also, she stopped applying when she found a position.

          1. Sylvia*

            Sorry, meant to include “when and where” I went to college. Small town. Didn’t have an abundance of job openings in every field.

      7. Optimistic Prime*

        A couple dozen is plenty depending on the field. When I was in college, I also applied to maybe a couple dozen summer internships and I never really had to worry about being without one – and I was a student who absolutely needed summer money to survive.

  3. HR Artist*

    I also think this is a good opportunity to let your daughter fend off these comments, if they bother her. I understand she’s shy and quiet but at some point she needs to be able to speak up and defend her actions. Doing so against (supposedly) family who loves her is low-risk.

    Kudos to you for being a caring and sensitive mother.

    1. Sibley*

      I agree that the daughter needs to learn how to advocate for herself. However, depending on the family dynamics, family may be high-risk. (Though it should be low risk.)

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Very much agreed.

      It may also help her further develop her ability to let things roll off her back. To this day, my extended family makes horrendous and judgmental comments about my career, and sometimes my dad does, too. Their feedback comes from a place of pure ignorance and a sort of twisted version of care/concern, from what I can tell. But the truth is they have no idea what I do or how my field works, and my life goals are not the same as their life goals. Knowing those things makes it easier for me to smile politely at misplaced/offensive/insulting advice and to breezily change the subject.

      But I was lucky—my mom has always had my back and felt that as long as I could support myself, I should pursue the things I love and am good at. OP, it sounds like your daughter is lucky to have a mom like that, too. So you can certainly shut down/turn away comments from the relatives, but I think it might be worth helping her learn how to shut them down, too.

    3. Midge*

      Yup, I’m many years out of college and I’m fending off concerns from my family about what I’m going to do after the graduate program I just finished. Thankfully they’re not trying to get me to apply for some job, any job (!!!) like the OP’s relatives. But they want to be involved when they’re not familiar with the industry, area where I live, etc. It gets tiresome. Never too early to learn how to deal with that, I guess.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Respectfully disagreeing. And that is dependent on family dynamic, daughter’s inner strength, past history and so on.
      However, I think Mom can say, “I am satisfied with how my daughter is doing her job search.” And hopefully that will shut down these busy bodies.

      Family can do a real number on each other. I remember being in my late teens and early twenties. Everyone was a critic. They all KNEW exactly what to do and they were SURE I was wrong. Ironically, not a single one of them came forward to give me usable advice.

      Depending on the severity of the situation (I assume it’s bad or else you would not have taken the time to write, OP), you could even say, “If you haven’t got a positive suggestion that is respectful of my daughter’s goals then please keep your opinion to yourself.”
      There may be situations that a parent does need to shut down prying family members and I don’t think that everyone in a similar situation should be left alone to fend off the onslaught.

  4. Parenthetically*

    She applied to a couple DOZEN jobs that interested her? I don’t think I’ve applied to a couple dozen jobs in my entire working life. Your family needs to butt out; your daughter is doing just fine.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yes, this. I think on any given job search, I’ve applied to maybe 10 jobs maximum? I’d have to go through my old cover letters to be sure, but most of my job searches (even when I was in my early 20s) maxed out at 6 actual applications.

      1. Myrin*

        Ah, yeah, that’s what I was getting at with an earlier comment – I’m glad to see I don’t seem to be as completely out of the loop as I thought!

      2. ThatGirl*

        I’ve been job-searching since March (start a new job Monday) and I probably applied to ~50 jobs? Some of them were fairly low-effort, to be fair (submit LinkedIn profile and resume) and things I didn’t truly think I’d get an interview for – but they were all things I was at least nominally qualified for and interested in.

    2. zora*

      Same here, even when I was looking for summer or college jobs, during previous recessions, I maybe applied to 10 at a time, and got one of them.
      I think a couple of dozen shows she clearly has a reasonable selection to choose from that fit her parameters! She’s good!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This. I think your daughter is doing very well, OP.

      Decades ago, I went through a spell where I was very selective about where I applied. And that is because I usually got hired. I made sure I actually wanted the job before applying. It could be that your daughter interviews well and realizes that, so that is a consideration for her.

  5. Howdy partner*

    Exactly. If it had been a few months with no prospects and financial struggles, then she might have needed to suck it up and take a job she didn’t want, but really that would only be for a limited time so that she would have an income while continuing a job search.

  6. Mike C.*

    The rest of your family just needs to leave your daughter alone.

    She’s on track to graduate, she’s building a work history, what is there to complain or lecture about? The fact that there were several dozen places for her to apply for tells me she isn’t needlessly limiting her options.

    And frankly, I think folks need to acknowledge that not wanting to work in particular situations can be a legitimate disqualifying factor in certain jobs. Could you imagine wanting to hire a grade school teacher that hates working with children?

    OP, if you can, try to stop these dumb lectures the next time they happen. There’s no reason your daughter should have to deal with this.

    1. Saturnalia*

      Soooo much this. OP, thanks for being your daughter’s ally in her quest to find employment she will be able to stick with. Now you can be an even better advocate, by role modeling how to stand up to (hopefully) well meaning relatives and drawing/enforcing appropriate boundaries regarding what kinds of career advice is welcome.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I agree 100%. I think it’s completely reasonable, and smart, to not apply to jobs one knows they are not suited for (and she’s so lucky to have figured this out THIS early!); it’s not being picky, it’s being smart.

    3. BRR*

      Yeah I’m not quite sure why the family thinks the daughter needs to find a job that would make her unhappy (I have hunches). As mentioned across the post, if she wasn’t having any luck then the response here would be different.

      1. Mike C.*

        I wondered about the “daughter” and “child care” myself, lots of folks get really upset when a woman isn’t interested in taking care of children.

        1. HannahS*

          ….wow, that’s an excellent point. She doesn’t want to serve the public (in a “let me help you with that” way) or work with children. How annoying that people won’t accept that.

        2. oranges & lemons*

          Yep, and I think it might apply to the customer service parts too. If the daughter were a son, I doubt too many people would be giving him a hard time if he wanted to work stocking shelves, landscaping, house painting, and that sort of thing. I think for a lot of people, the default jobs for young women are childcare and customer service.

        3. Master Bean Counter*

          Been there done that.
          Apparently the proper reply to “can you watch my kids?” isn’t, “Why, do they do tricks?”

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          Oh, god, yes!

          I am a woman. I have children.

          You could not pay me to take a job that involves being responsible for and having to entertain large groups of children. And, as a point of comparison, I work with BigLaw litigators and will take them every day of the week over any job involving gaggles of children.

    4. AMPG*

      Better yet, don’t volunteer the information. People with no stake in the outcome and a history of being unnecessarily judgmental have forfeited the right to know all the details of the process. “She’s still working on her job search, but I’m sure it will work out great, just like last summer!” is a completely valid response.

    5. ginkgo*

      Oh my goodness, this. I have a whole rant about how childcare is NOT low-stakes grunt work (my boyfriend is a preschool teacher), but I’ll save it. But really, is that the quality of care you want your kids to have? Grrr.

      I do think Coming Up Milhouse’s comments are interesting in that they’re more than likely indicative of the attitude that’s causing the OP’s family to react the way they are. It doesn’t change the answer, but it is illuminating.

    6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I had a teacher in middle school who hated teaching. How do I know? She told us. At high volume. Repeatedly.

      Don’t take a job if you know you’re going to be absolute shit at it. Just don’t.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, this read to me more like a family dynamic question. OP, does your family intervene in other private matters, too?
      This really seems like too much involvement.

      You know, OP, if the family actually wanted to be helpful they could a) listen to your daughter’s goals and b) find supportive and encouraging things to say to her.
      It really does not take a lot of talent to shoot down someone’s idea.

      I remember my husband got a new job at Fortune 100 Company. The very first thing his mother said was, “You’re low man in seniority. What if you get laid off?”
      End of conversation.
      My husband told my father and my father was all over it, “Oh that is so great! Tell me about your job. [etc]”. That conversation lasted an hour and a half.
      Differences in people.

  7. HisGirlFriday*

    In a lot of social situations, there’s an escape maneuver called ‘bean-dipping,’ in which you just change the subject:

    Relative: Daughter should apply for more jobs!
    You: Have you tried the bean-dip? It’s wonderful.
    Relative: She’s being too picky!
    You: Do you think it has jalapenos in it?
    Relative: JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!
    You: I have to go get the recipe, excuse me, bye.

    Rinse, repeat. They’ll eventually get sick of talking to you if they don’t get a response.

    Also, this is something your daughter should feel empowered to do, because if she’s old enough to be in university and have a job, she’s old enough to manage her own social situations.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Eh, depends on the family culture. If you can tell them to knock it off, awesome, but sometimes that results in way more stress and drama than just talking about the dip and then suddenly needing to talk to someone over on the other side of the room. Especially since we’re talking about people just being nosy and obnoxious rather than outright abusive.

      2. CoveredInBees*

        Some family members see this as a reason to double down until you do as they say. Distract them with enough random chit chat and they move on to other topics.

        1. Mike C.*

          Or they won’t because you haven’t addressed the actual issue. Depends on the person.

      3. Natalie*

        I find these two tactics actually combine very well – make the direct statement that the subject is closed, and then if when they keep bringing it up, use bean dipping to enforce the point.

      4. Fafaflunkie*

        Yes, I hear you. I also hear OP listening to her mother saying “I raised you to take any job, and you’re raising my granddaughter to take only jobs that suit her? How dare you?”

        It’s the “all about me” mentality which stretches upon all generations still living, from Boomers to Gen Z (or post-millennial in some people’s interpretation.)

    1. M-C*

      Excellent tactic! One even easier to practice if both of you are present and can toss the bean-dip ball back and forth over the head of the inquisitor(s). But really, this kind of conversation can be tamped down to begin with by not broaching the topic of jobs at all outside your smallest circle. If anyone asks what your daughter is doing for the summer, a very vague and cheery ‘seems to be doing great so far!’, followed by firm bean-dipping, will discourage further queries, because they won’t have anything to go on. It’s hard to lecture someone on the kinds of jobs she’s applying for when you have no idea what she’s been applying for, or even any real inkling that she’s been in fact applying to anything.

      And you can be kind to the well-meaning ‘I saw the local childcare has an opening, here is their phone number’ with a grateful “so kind of you to think of me! really appreciate it! do you think there are jalapenos in this?…”. You have no obligation to follow up on any lead, likely nobody will ever know, or you’ll be working before any real non-info makes the round back to the originator. This kind of interaction is much more likely in a small town. If really cornered, you can simply explain “daughter has mostly been working in —field, so likely this is where she’ll be finding jobs easiest in the next round. I love this subtle undertone of garlic, don’t you?…”, which should be enough for the truly concerned, is entirely true, and bypasses much of the rest.

      Thank you OP for supporting your daughter in this, she sounds so sensible and smart, congratulations to both of you :-).

    2. MuseumChick*

      I prefer the direct “This Topic is Close” but you can incorporate the “bean dipping”

      Relative: Jobs!!!
      You: Aunt Mary, I know you are saying this to me out of concern/love. What I need you to know is that this topic is closed. I will not discuss it anymore. I’m sure you understand.
      Relative: But Jobs!!!!
      You: Wow, this is really good bean dip, do you know who made it?
      Relative: How dare you ignore what I have to say!
      You: I’m going to go ask and find out who made this bean dip, it’s so good.” *walk away*

    3. kb*

      Bean dipping can be great, but it also can make it clear that you don’t want to talk about something which makes some people push harder. For relatives like this I recommend throwing the ball back in their court and asking them a bunch of questions about their job history and personal lives. “It is really important to get jobs during school! Tell me more about all your college jobs! Every detail!”

      Family dynamics as a young adult can be very weird, so I sympathize with the daughter. I had a 401k and was still told to sit at the children’s table, but then interrogated about why I was not engaged or married yet. And then relatives were confused why I always had to leave early.

      1. Clever Name*

        Well clearly you don’t get to graduate to the adult table unless you’re married or about-to-be married! (ugh)

        1. Katelyn*

          Something adults seem to forget is that if the sizes of the tables don’t change, and the attendees don’t change, then the 30+ yr. olds will still be at the “kids” table because that’s the name you gave the table where you put the loud children and uncle Mycroft is offended whenever anyone tries to go against “tradition” and change up the seating arrangement. Heaven forfend he ends up at the “kids” table!
          *ahem*… not that I know anything about that kind of family dynamic of course…

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “Family dynamics as a young adult can be very weird, so I sympathize with the daughter. ”

        Yep. I think OP has every right to be concerned. There are some adults that take great pleasure in mocking or belittling newbie adults life/job choices. If I was your daughter I would really appreciate hearing from you that not every adult behaves so poorly. We don’t build people up by tearing down things they are doing.

    4. MashaKasha*

      Bean dip works every time! And no worries about being indirect, people know that they are being beandipped, and why.

  8. SarahTheEntwife*

    Agree with AAM here! And even if she does get in that “I need a job, any job” place at some point, there are still whole areas of entry-level work that still don’t require a lot of interpersonal stuff — stocking and warehouse work, data entry, that kind of thing.

    1. Saturnalia*

      Yes, tons of valid options that won’t make her miserable, and frankly the rest of the family sounds like they’d also be the types to advise handing out resumes in person to demonstrate gumption. -_- I’m not feeling that the extended family is the best source of career advice based on the read I get from the letter.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      There is a part of me that really misses my stocking job from back in the day. It was part-time and minimum wage (which is the part I don’t miss) but 6am-10am was fantastic for getting my work out of the way with a whole day left to myself, and although my working hours technically overlapped with time the store was open, it cost me basically no energy to be polite and customer-friendly for the all of an hour of overlap I had.

      If only $500-700/mo was livable pay…

  9. Sara*

    You sound like a great mom – don’t let the naysayers get in the way of that. I agree you should’ve talked to your daughter about what her plan is if her strategy didn’t work, but it did and she’s clearly motivated because she knows what she wants and applied to DOZENS of jobs! In college, I highly doubt I would have been that motivated to find something that ‘fits’ for a short term.

  10. Sarah*

    It sounds like your daughter has a great head on her shoulders. I agree the main solution is to quit sharing info with these busybodies! No family member (frankly, including her mom!) needs to know about every single application she puts in. If your daughter wants to seek advice that’s her choice, but she should try to ask those she thinks are actually going to offer solid advice as opposed to just being annoying. I especially agree with your opinion that if money is not an issue, there’s zero point in pursuing a job you won’t be good at and can’t get a good reference from! Now obviously she may need to change her strategy at some point in life, but then again maybe not. I work in academia in a field where it’s challenging to find a tenure track position–and believe me, I had backup plans! But ultimately i didn’t need to use them. So it’s not always the case that “Plan A” doesn’t work out perfectly fine! It’s just good to think about what your possible alternatives are before the last possible moment (which it sounds like your daughter did–volunteering is another great way to build your resume)

  11. cornflower blue*

    I have relatives like this. They spent their summers doing back-breaking manual labor going uphill both ways, and you should too!

    If you made a Venn diagram of these people and the people who tell you to get a job through gumption, it would just be one circle.

    1. Mazzy*

      Not really pertinent to the question, but you sound negative about this type of approach, but maybe those older folk enjoyed the experience at some level and/or don’t want younger people to be afraid of said low level nitty gritty work or manual labor, because they remember it feeling daunting at the time

      1. Kelly L.*

        Because she doesn’t mean that the people in question actually did harder work than Kids These Days, they just romanticize whatever they did do and put down whatever Kids These Days are doing, even if it’s the same amount of “hard.”

      2. Mike C.*

        My parents did lots of backbreaking physical work, hated every minute of it, and did everything they could to ensure that their kids wouldn’t have to do the same. That’s a pretty common sentiment.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, I know people with parents who did manual labor day in and day out. Uniformly, those parents wanted something different for their kids. Sometimes those who worked in construction did encourage their kids to go into that field, but they generally encouraged their kids to go into the well-paid trades (eg day laborer encouraging a kid to become an electrician).

          It may be different for family-owned businesses and farms, though. Most folks I know in that circumstance were kids of undocumented immigrants who were farmhands and day laborers.

        2. MashaKasha*

          I did some backbreaking physical work as a college student, and worked in a part-time an admin-level, low-paid, thankless job when I was technically on maternity leave and my old job let me go and we needed money. What I hated the most about these jobs was that, after a day of work, I’d be so exhausted that I couldn’t even think about looking for a job somewhere else, or (theoretically) going to school in the evening or otherwise pursuing a career change. They are dead-end jobs. When my family immigrated here, we got a lot of advice along the lines of “take the first job that comes along! clean houses! be a dishwasher! this is how it’s done in America” and so on. But I knew myself enough by that time to know that, if I took a dead-end job, I’d never get out of it. Other people with more energy might, and have. But I wouldn’t. I ended up finding an entry-level job very quickly that involved a lot of grunt work and low pay, but also was in my field and had growth potential. I would’ve never found it if I were washing dishes at a restaurant for 40 hrs a week. I’d have been too tired to look for it.

          1. MashaKasha*

            Adding to my comment: first job offer I got in America was on my second day here (so before we even started unpacking). Our landlady came over to tell me that a neighbor two doors down needed a babysitter for her 13-month-old twins, for $3/hour, cash, in 1997. I asked who would watch my 4yo and 15-month-old while I watch those kids and the landlady was like “oh you can watch all four together”. I figured there was an insane amount of liability involved, and said no. She looked at me like OP’s relatives are probably looking at her daughter, and told me I was making a big mistake by turning this job down.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Good advice, MK and very well laid out. I am sure your kids will benefit from your wisdom.

      3. aebhel*

        I actually did spend my summers doing manual labor as a teenager and college student, and I liked it just fine, but if people don’t want to and aren’t in a position where they have to, why hassle them about it?

    2. Leatherwings*

      Hahahaha, this is so true. My family was 100% like this on both counts. I had to just stop telling them about my job searches.

    3. Kelly L.*

      I was thinking of gumption too. OP, they’re just gumptionizing. Your daughter clearly was willing to work, applied for plenty of jobs, and got something that works for her, so she’s on the right track.

    4. Optimistic Prime*

      I was thinking the same thing. My dad is this person – he’d tell you that you need to just take any job even if you hate it and that you have to “hustle” to get jobs (aka show up in person and hand them a paper application). TO be fair, it comes from his experience – he’s always worked blue-collar jobs in which showing up in person was valued, and he was the sole earner in my family for almost 15 years so he had to work regardless of whether he liked it or felt like it. So I understood his motivations and context for these things.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        That’s been more or less my dad’s experience, too. He got his last job before retiring by showing up and talking to the manager; I think that was some time around the year 2000? But – he is wise enough to know that my experience is different, because my career is very different. So, he doesn’t offer advice unless asked. Mom can be a touch more vocal, but she respects my intelligence enough to know that I do things as I do for a reason. Just one of the many reasons my parents are awesome!

        I do think there is some of the “paying her dues” mentality going on in reference to the OP’s daughter. “I had to do work I hated to get by, and it was character building” (or something), “so everyone should have to!” It’s like they feel like those of us who make different choices or travel different paths are somehow getting away with something. It’s…odd.

    5. SarahTheEntwife*

      Though in this case lots of manual-labor jobs might be good options for this young person if she has the physical skills for it, since they’re usually not particularly social.

  12. L.*

    My own mother pushes me like this whenever I’ve been between jobs, I feel for the OP’s daughter and I’m glad her mom is supportive. I think the daughter’s choosiness is fine in times like these, when unemployment is like 5 percent. In the event of a big 2009-style recession is when I think it would be appropriate to push her to work in fast food or the like. But that’s just the nature of the labor market.

    1. Blurgle*

      Nobody should ever be pushed to work in fast food. Not only is fast food work not safe for every employee, it’s hellaciously – hellaciously – unsafe for customers.

      1. paul*

        when it’s that or get evicted because you can’t afford rent the situation looks a bit different.

        1. Mike C.*

          In those sorts of economic conditions, fast food places generally aren’t hiring and if they are hiring, they’re looking for folks who already have experience.

          1. L.*

            “Fast food” probably was bad choice/example, I just meant in bad economic times I would agree you might need to expand your definition of an acceptable job to pay the bills. God knows I did that in 2007-2011 or so.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think the issue isn’t whether there’s a recession/high unemployment, but rather, whether the daughter was employable in the fields she sought. If her job search was not panning out, then sure, she should have broadened it or considered several part-time jobs in her field (as opposed to one full-time job not in her field). But even during the recession, it wouldn’t be inherently bad to start with some focus and broaden one’s search as needed.

        1. Thermal Teapot Researcher*

          This is how I feel as well.

          The OP’s daughter was successful in getting a job in her field. Why is that a problem? Because she didn’t suffer enough?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, some people enjoy other people’s misery. It makes them feel smug or “better than” some how.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      Oddly, I’ve run into the opposite – lots of well-meaning clueless people who nag me and others about why we don’t have or look for a “better” job, even when the “better” jobs they’re pushing are grossly unrealistic. You can’t win.

  13. Hannah*

    As an adult, your daughter gets to choose what jobs she does and doesn’t apply for, and what she thinks will work for her. The only reason someone else might have a legitimate say about how desperate she should be for a job is if they are in the position of having to support her financially while she is out of work. I assume your distant relatives are not in that position? No? Then their opinion doesn’t matter, and if they are critical and give a lot of lectures, maybe talking with them about the job search isn’t a good idea. (And, if your daughter isn’t relying on you for financial assistance, your opinion isn’t going to carry a huge amount of weight either, if you decided to cross over to the side of the other relatives and give a lot of lectures and criticism.)

    1. SSS*

      ^^ this!! I was coming here to basically say the same thing. The daughter was getting interviews and ended up with a job she enjoys using this pattern. When the job search situation comes up again next year (per the OP) , it is perfectly logical to first apply to jobs that she wants and would enjoy. ** IF ** that is not successful, then it would be logical to expand her search to include jobs that would be less enjoyable. But there’s no reason to apply for ‘bad-fit’ jobs in the first round just to make other people happy if those other people have nothing to do with supporting her.

  14. CoveredInBees*

    Agreed. The less the lecturing relatives know, the less they can lecture about. “She’s got a bunch of applications out to some great opportunities. We’ll let you know when she has news!”

    My first thought was like LW said, you’re building references as well as a job history. Doing work that suits your strengths increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed or, at the very least, be a pleasant and competent colleague. People hiring kids out of college (as I’ve done recently) don’t necessary expect a new hire to know everything right off the bat* but no amount of training can make up for someone who is unhappy or unpleasant.

    *That said, a work/internship/volunteering history in the work area will definitely put you higher up on an interview list than someone without. If you have the scheduling/financial flexibility to do so, I’d recommend seeking out something specific to a field over a higher-paid “show up on time and have a pulse” gig.

  15. KellyK*

    I think it’s 100% completely reasonable to only apply for jobs you think you’d actually be good at. Your preferences matter, but even if she didn’t specifically *mind* working with kids or the public but was just bad at it, it would be good to avoid jobs where that’s a focus. People seem to think of soft skills as things anyone can pick up, but that’s not necessarily the case. If she can get a job that plays to her strengths, it doesn’t serve her to get one where she’s less likely to do well. She’s way more likely to build a work history with good references and accomplishments if she focuses on jobs she’d be good at.

  16. Lily in NYC*

    Why do these people know where she’s applying? My extended family is very close, but they were not remotely involved in my job searches when I was in school. This is the perfect situation for “thanks for your concern; we have it covered”. And then change the subject. I wish I had learned earlier in life how easy it is to deflect busybodies by changing the subject. It’s now my favorite thing to do when my mom starts up with one of her judgmental monologues about some cousin I barely know.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I think this is the key part of Alison’s advice—limit the information they get. I promise you my extended family never knew what jobs I was applying for. In fact, most of the time even my parents never knew what jobs I was applying for. I would just go through the job search process, and when I got a job, I’d let people know “Hey, I’m not working at _______.”

  17. CityMouse*

    It is actually a lot smarter to focus on in field work the summer before senior year. The resume boost from an in field job or even an unpaid internship could ultimately end up being a lot more than the financial benefit from a minimum wage job. It is actually one if the realities that help wealthy students get better jobs out of college because they don’t have to take minimum wage jobs out of field and can invest in in field experience, even unpaid. Obviously I am not a fan of this reality but it is one nonetheless.

  18. Etak*

    So many of my relatives had “opinions” on my part time jobs in high school and college. The yogurt shop was “not even really a job”, the pool I lifeguarded at “wasn’t even regulation size” and “basically just babysitting”, and (my fav) the diner didn’t serve alcohol!
    Now that I’m working in my field, I get a kick out of only talking about my job in the most specific, technical, industry speak possible to see them try to grasp at what to pick on. Pretty sure they have no idea what I do but it sounds impressive enough to keep them at bay :)

    1. CityMouse*

      I have relatives asking my sister when she is going to start using her law degree. She is an assistant state’s attorney. The fact that the state’s attorney is an elected position and you can Google my sister’s name and see her as the lead prosecutor on multiple murder convictions is lost on them.

      1. Myrin*

        That’s so bizarre and hilarious at the same time! What do they think your sister does, then?

          1. HeyAnonnyNonnyNo*

            Ha! I once asked a third party what a member of a club I was in did for a living and was told “oh, she’s a legal secretary”. Later that week I got a LinkedIn request from the woman: Head of Legal and Company Secretary. Not the same…

          2. Sibley*

            She could always take over family Thanksgiving one year with talk about her work in the courtroom or something. Sometimes you have to hit family over the head with something before they get it.

            I got dead drunk (when I basically don’t drink) at a family wedding once to convince my dad’s family to treat me like an adult, not a child. Also spent way more money than I usually would getting hair/makeup done so I really looked the part. It worked. Totally made the hangover worth it.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I think I missed something here. You had to get rip-roaring drunk to get them to treat you as an adult???? hmmm.

          3. Kelly L.*

            I wondered if they just think The Public Sector is crap and she should be making multizillions in The Private Sector.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Yeah, I’ve occasionally gotten questions from my boyfriend’s family about whether I’m going to leave academia and go into industry. I’m an academic librarian. This isn’t a chemist like leaving a faculty job and going to work at a for-profit lab; education *is* my industry. Yes, corporate librarians are absolutely a thing, but those positions usually don’t have great job security and they’re kind of few and far between.

              1. Artemesia*

                My brother went to Harvard Business school decades ago and then went on to a dazzling career finishing as the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. When he went to Harvard my well educated Aunt and Uncle said something like ‘why is he going to Boston for business school; he could go to Local Business College right here?’ Local Business College was not even the state University B School — it was like a little place that mostly trained secretaries and bookkeepers.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Are your relatives my relatives? Because they ask me inane questions like this all the time.

      3. paul*

        That’s the fourth or fifth most confusing thing I’ve come across on this blog. A state’s attorney and they don’t think she’s using her law degree? The hell?

        1. CityMouse*

          Actually it happens from a variety of sources. They think “assistant” means “assistant to” instead if an attorney. The state’s attorney herself is more of a political position (one that requires a law degree) and I don’t think she ever personally handles trials.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Ask me about the time an attorney asked me if I needed a law degree to be a law clerk. The number of times I get asked if I need a law degree to do my (no longer a law clerk) job is stunning… but to be fair, it’s also pretty gendered (but I don’t want to derail on that last part).

    2. Michaela*

      The best thing about working in a technical field that my parents basically think is magic is that I never have to justify my professional decisions to them.

      1. Artemesia*

        LOL I learned this as a parent when my son could get 3 job offers in a week without breaking a sweat. In my field you are very lucky to ever get a job — probably 100-1 ratio of qualified applicants to positions. I was competitive but also dang lucky. My kid needs no advice from me.

  19. Tomato Frog*

    Oh God, this old kneejerk thing. The attitude espoused by OP’s relatives is always irritating (why should you apply for jobs you don’t need or want? why does everyone assume that retail and food service jobs are always just there for the taking?) but is particularly baseless in this case. The daughter applied for many positions, had multiple interviews, and ultimately got a job. She’s doing everything right! There’s no indication she’ll become indigent because she hasn’t waited tables. This stupid anti-snobbery of “You’ve got to apply for menial jobs regardless of the reality of the situation!” is tiresomeness itself. Of course working at a grocery store is beneficial sometimes. So are a hundred other things. Not everyone has to do them all.

    I have some well-to-do friends who don’t need to work to live. They do volunteer work, occasionally have regular jobs, but always feel guilty when they’re not employed in a way that is paying a regular wage. It’s just so ingrained in our culture. I always ask them why they would feel guilty for not taking a job away from someone who needs it.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Yep. Contrary to popular belief, no, McDonald’s is not always hiring (a lot has to do with the busy and slow times of year in a given town), jobs like that often don’t hire the overqualified because they figure you’ll leave, and if you do get hired, having that job at McDonald’s can drain away your free time and energy that you could otherwise use to find something more relevant. If you’re super strapped for cash, it can be a useful trade-off for a while, but she’s clearly doing fine.

      1. CityMouse*

        I didn’t make very much money the year I clerked out of law school and my mom made one comment about how I should get another job to supplement because my sister was paid better out of school. Never mind clerking is a very very time consuming job and considered a smart career being move. Fortunately my sister was able to explain and shut it down.

        1. Artemesia*

          Same thing happened to me when I bragged to my folks about getting a great RA position that paid about twice what research associates usually make. They were aghast at the crappy salary. Of course it covered 100% of my graduate tuition and was good money as a PhD candidate. Just another world for them.

      2. Alton*

        Good point. I did reach a point in my post-college job search where I wasn’t finding something that fit my preferences quickly enough and my job wasn’t paying enough for me to depend on it for much longer. So I applied for some positions at a chain bookstore. I had years of retail experience at that point, I had a degree in English, and I actually probably would have enjoyed working in a bookstore for the most part. I got a form rejection email about how they’d decided to go with a “more qualified” candidate.

        1. WellRed*

          To be fair, an English major with bookstore experience is “more qualified” than a person with other retail experience.

      3. Annabelle*

        Seconding this. IME, fast food restaurants can be pretty hesitant to hire new grads or people who are about to graduate cause the assumption is that you’ll be job searching the whole time anyway.

        I also really hate the notion that those types of entry level jobs are totally easy for everyone, like it’s some sort of rite of passage.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Also, those jobs are in crazy high-demand, and often there is an applicant pool full of people with other food service experience. Having “higher qualifications” (i.e., higher ed) doesn’t actually make a person better qualified for “flipping burgers at McDonald’s”-type jobs.

          1. Annabelle*

            This too. Just like any other place of business, they’re looking for folks who have experience in the field. Plus I know a ton of very smart, formally educated people who would do terribly in a fast food kitchen.

        2. blackcat*

          There definitely are seasonal food-service jobs that happily hire college students for a summer, but they tend to be in touristy areas.

      4. Optimistic Prime*

        Also, their hours are erratic and unpredictable. And if the job is to build work history, a food service work history might not really be that helpful for OP when she’s hunting later.

    2. Sarianna*

      Also in most retail, if you aren’t comfortable approaching and being approached by customers, you’re going to have a bad time, and so are your long-term-employee coworkers who will have to pick up the slack/listen to complaints if you are super awkward and scare/frustrate the customers or even if you just avoid them and try to work with the stock. In my years in retail I saw plenty of people like this who made it through the hiring process (because having a pulse, a coherent conversation with a manager, and a clean drug test was generally enough–even though that didn’t really touch skills or personality at all). That said, they usually didn’t stay long, either by way of seasonal employment or hating those aspects of the job and leaving as soon as something else came along. It’s okay to be that introvert/socially-awkward person, but you don’t have to make yourself miserable like this when you have other options.

      1. Kalamet*

        I worked as a server for about a month, and gained a permanent respect for people who can do it. I just… can’t people. At all. I was very fortunate that my college jobs were technology-related, so I had work experience and fewer panic attacks.

      2. RFBF*

        I lost the first job I had in my field and after not finding work for three months, got hired at a big department store. I absolutely hate interacting with customers, but I forced myself to do it because I needed the job. And I got really good at it. But I still hated it. I stayed there for five years and only left because my husband and I moved.

        My only issue with the daughter in this letter is the idea that she wouldn’t be good at retail-type jobs, and sometimes, you have to make yourself be good because you need to be employed. Luckily, the daughter is not in this position, but it’s just something to think about should something bad happen and you need to take a job you don’t necessarily want.

    3. Mike C.*

      To your point about “jobs not always there for the taking”, there is currently a massive retraction in the retail sector going on right now.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, the “go work in retail” trope is sounding pretty hollow in some parts of the country. Would that be the boarded up mall or the dead Sears?

  20. ArtK*

    Ask yourself this question: Why do the opinions of these people matter?

    As Alison said, it’s clear that the strategy worked. They aren’t the ones applying for jobs, so their opinions aren’t useful at all. Deflect them. Don’t respond as if their opinions mattered at all. As soon as you start defending, you’re telling them that the *do* matter. “She’s happy with the results of her job search” is all you need to say. Or “She’s got it all under control.”

  21. memyselfandi*

    Sounds like this young woman knows herself. When I was her age I had not had enough job experience and self-knowledge to say this is what I do or do not want. If I could give one piece of advice it would be to flip that self-knowledge and ask what I needed to work on. Do I need to put myself in a position where I can learn to deal with the public more effectively? Much better to do that from a position of choosing to do so, than being forced to do it. She is a lucky daughter with a good mother, to my eye.

  22. AnotherAlison*

    I’m here to offer sympathy to the OP. My parents think all our business is their business. My son is in college. My husband and I are successful adults. I think we can all handle ourselves quite well without their help. My standard way of dealing with intrusive questions is just minimal truthful responses and changing the subject.

    Them: What’s Kid doing after next year (last year of community college)?
    Me: Oh, that depends on too many things to know yet.
    Them: What does Kid want to do? Does he still want to do ___?
    Me: You would have to ask him. I don’t know. I’m not worried about it. He’ll figure it out. Did Dad finish that thing on the thing yet?

    I think the biggest thing is to really have a separation between your family and those relatives. If grandma is paying tuition, or giving cars to your kids, or whatever (does not sound like the OP’s case), good luck shutting down your family trying to butt in. They still don’t have the right, but they will feel like they do.

  23. Feo Takahari*

    A lot of jobs in my field expect customer service experience as proof that you can get along with jerks. The good news is that once you can demonstrate customer service experience, you probably don’t have to work with customers again. I suffered through a year of retail, and now I’m safely insulated from people who want a 30% discount because their item has a wrinkle.

    1. Fafaflunkie*

      Now that you mention it, maybe there should be government mandated work in customer service jobs–either retail, call centre, waiter, or counter help. Maybe if everyone felt what it’s like to be treated like turds working in a minimum-wage customer facing job where they have no control as to why you’re so pissed off (or worse, getting thrown under the bus when manager gives unruly customer what they demanded when retail slave couldn’t or else be fired), they may be a bit more considerate to them.

  24. Ramona Flowers*

    I don’t know about close families so this really confuses me – why do they know so much? Are they asking questions or do you just tell them? Not meaning to sound overly critical, I just genuinely don’t know how this stuff works.

    Definitely stop telling them what jobs she is and isn’t applying to. They don’t need to know.

    1. SL #2*

      My dad and his siblings are REALLY, REALLY CLOSE. Everyone lives in the same geographic area, they have a group chat, they see each other pretty frequently… mostly, information gets passed around because they talk about it and if you’re talking once a week, the subject does eventually turn to kids (me and my cousins) and what they’re doing and it all just snowballs from there…

    2. Rebeck*

      I’ve been unemployed for the last 10 months after a layoff (starting a new and awesome-appearing job on Monday, yay!) and I’ve been getting comments from members of my church about ‘why don’t I have a job yet?’ So it’s not just family… (And it’s not like I ever announced at church that I was jobless: people noticed they hadn’t seen me at work (public library) and asked what happened. Colleagues told them, I end up getting well-meant but infuriating comments/questions every Sunday.

  25. Laura (Needs to Change Her Name)*

    “Any job is better than no job” carries a lot of class-related weight. I’ve been on both sides of this – I grew up an environment where it was very much true, and am now in a position where it is not. It is a really hard mindset to let go of, and for me it is a mindset that is very judgmental. For me, it is because when that was true, it really WAS a moral problem to turn down a job when there was a possibility of a job – the job was a NEED, and not meeting that need was dangerous and burdensome to other people. It still *feels* that way in my life now, even though the circumstances have changed.

    A gentle way of deflecting this criticism might be to acknowledge the privilege/circumstances that allow your daughter to be in a position to make the choices she is making (which are appropriate for the situation you have described!). Something like “yes, she is very privileged/fortunate/lucky to be in a financial position where she has the option to be more selective about the kinds of job she pursues.” (Starting with “yes” is deliberate! Even if they’ve stated something the EXACT OPPOSITE, if you phrase something as though you’re agreeing with someone it makes it seem like suddenly they are on board with you. “Jenny needs to get a job!” “Yes, she’s lucky that she’s in a position where that’s actually not true!”)

    1. Annabelle*

      You raise such an interesting point in your first paragraph. I grew up pretty privileged, but both of my parents were poor kids. To my mom, being between jobs for a week or two is an all-hands-on-deck emergency. Even now that she doesn’t NEED to work, her view is that if you don’t take the first job you’re offered, then you’re being lazy.

      I still haven’t lived down quitting my last retail job (I was working 80ish hour weeks and was constantly sick) without anything lined up.

      1. Natalie*

        My spouse grew up in a family with similar morals as you describe, and has been going through an honest to goodness identity crisis over the last year as he can’t power through jobs that are physically and mentally destroying him. It’s an attitude that is probably helpful when one genuinely does need to work or starve, but the minute you get beyond that subsistence level it can be so toxic.

        1. Annabelle*

          Yeah, I think it’s probably quite helpful when your options are “work this awful job or get evicted.” But making yourself miserable when you have other options just isn’t worth it to me. I realize being able to say that in and of itself comes from a place of privilege, though.

      2. RFBF*

        When I talk to my father on the phone, his number one question is always “Are you still working everyday?” because his job would often lay him off for two or three weeks and he wouldn’t get paid.

      3. Laura (Needs to Change Her Name)*

        Yeah, it is hard to over-state how strong that emotional response is. There is such a huge difference between being OK but having ZERO safety net and even having the slimmest of safety nets. When you do not have a safety net, “what’s the worst that can happen?” can very realistically mean “well, within 30 days you will have no car, no place to live, and your children will be taken out of your custody.” Seeing people deliberately make decisions that result in periods without pay when that is your reality is really, really cognitively disconcerting.

    2. Optimistic Prime*

      This was also my first thought. While the relatives are being nosy, I am somewhat understanding of their context, because in my family this was very much the norm growing up – any job was better than no job, and most of my older relatives did hard, grueling, low-paid work that most people don’t want to do. My dad, a bus driver for most of my life, had a “good job” because it had benefits, which was also…not a thing.

      It took me a while to shake that and actually be choosy about the positions I take to build a career.

  26. Fake old Converse shoes*

    Please LW, don’t let your daughter follow that advice. When I was younger was pushed to take a level 1 call center representative position to “get out of my comfort zone and grow up”, and it was such a big mistake. The awful environment (abusive ‘customers’ and management) stressed me so much that turned my aversion to phones into a phobia, which eventually led to anxiety. Not only my performance was bad enough to leave a negative impression on my supervisors, but it also harmed my chances to get an entry level job in my field!

  27. Foreign Octupus*

    It sounds to me like she thought carefully and clearly about what type of jobs would suit her and then applied for those. It was a targeted application rather than the scatter gun approach that a lot of students and graduates (myself included) do after university. I wish I’d had the werewithal to focus my applications like OP’s daughter. It would have saved me some truly horrendous jobs (lots of telephone based sales/customer care in toxic environments – the team leader would openly snort and sell cocaine in front of us). Now that I’m older, I’m definitely of the opinion that unless the financial need is dire (or someone is financially supporting you) then focus on what you do want to do.

    She’s building experience in the type of jobs that will eventually suit her (low customer service) and I think that will help her in the long run rather than taking a job at a fast food restaurant. Not disparaging those who do work at a fast food restaurant. I’m a McDonald’s survivor (three years in the McFamily) and I worked there because I wouldn’t have been able to pay my rent and eat otherwise and it was excellent for what it was. However, it also didn’t help me when I graduated with a degree in politics and wanted to work in the Civil Service (I hadn’t been able to afford supporting myself whilst doing internships and so I had no direct experience).

    Your daughter is doing brilliantly and you’re being supportive. Just keep that up and refuse to engage when the rest of the family start sticking their oar in.

  28. College Career Counselor*

    LW, your daughter did exactly what she is supposed to do. She used her knowledge of herself, along with her previous experience, to do a targeted search for summer positions in the working environment she thinks best suits her AND which is intended to build her resume and develop her experience for jobs after college. This is EXACTLY the kind of thing I work with students on figuring out, rather than lurching from one ill-suited activity to another (or getting the same summer experience three years in a row at the same gig).

    TL;DR: Your family members are ill-informed and unfortunately meddlesome. Your daughter is doing it right.

  29. Brogrammer*

    Just wanna say, retail and fast food jobs won’t just hire any warm body that applies. Those jobs can actually be really hard to get! Even if you have experience, if you don’t get the right score on their 45-minute personality test, you don’t even get an interview.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Depends where you are. I’ve worked a lot of fast food/retail, and aside from one pizza place who issued me a very confusing 150 question written exam and never actually talked to me, the interviews were mostly “what’s your schedule like? Can you put up with abuse without snapping? Can you do basic math? OK, you’re hired. Come in tomorrow.”

      That was 15 years ago, to be fair, so maybe things have changed.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        My son got a job at a hamburger place 3 years ago, when he was 16, and the interview was essentially, “What hours can you work?” and “You start training tomorrow.”

        Probably depends a lot on where you live. My aunt-in-law has worked at the same hamburger place in a different state for over 20 years and just recently got her own store. Jobs are scarce and harder to get up there.

      2. Annabelle*

        I think it also depends on the type of places you apply to. My interviews at mom and pop shops/restaurants were always basically “what’s your schedule?” and “can you handle rude customers?” But big, corporate-owned companies tend to have more extensive hiring practices, at least from what I’ve experienced.

    2. Sharon*

      More to the point for the OP, they can be hard to get OUT of. I did fast food when I was in college earning my BS in computer science. Toward the end of college, I thought I was never going to get out of fast food regardless of degree. In all of my job interviews when the interviewer asked me about my experience, I’d try to explain how the fast food job proved that I was reliable and hardworking and etc, they’d practically hurt themselves rolling their eyes. It was all I had to go on at the time, though.

      Even outside of entry level jobs, general job hunting advise says to leverage what you know to get into your next job. If all you know is outside of the field you want to work in, it’s REALLY hard to get into that field. Taking any job that comes along is sometimes necessary but it can also be a career killer. It should be a last ditch effort to get the bills paid.

      1. Brogrammer*

        It is, and that’s sad. I lucked out – my pre-college work experience was waiting tables, and my first post-college job that I interviewed for just appreciated that I had work experience.

        (I wasn’t able to get a job waiting tables while going to college, not even with experience)

  30. Blurgle*

    This sounds like garden variety prejudice against the introverted, to be honest. LW’s daughter recognizes her strengths and weaknesses and that’s a good thing.

    1. London Calling*

      Agree so much. Too many people see introversion as something that has to be ‘cured.’ I think for the reasons a lot of people have already talked about the LW’s daughter is pretty impressive.

      1. KellyK*

        Good point. Shyness may be something she can or needs to work on, but introversion is a completely normal thing that doesn’t need to be fixed.

        And “working on” her shyness by applying for jobs with tons of customer service experience is like working on a fear of water by being thrown in a lake. It can work for some people, but it can also be traumatizing and make the stress that much worse.

  31. Amber Rose*

    When you can afford to be choosy, then you get to be choosy. That applies for all levels of work experience. If she couldn’t afford to be choosy, then there would be reason to have the hard talk about “no, really, you need some income.” The search for a job, ANY JOB, that kind of desperation is only for when you are actually desperate. No need to act like it if you aren’t.

    My parents were of the “get a job you lazy bum” sort, and my shy and anxious teen self got fired from so many customer service type jobs. SO. MANY. Even if I was relieved it was over, being fired that much was still pretty hard on my self esteem. And my work ethic. Having a job you want to be fired from is not conducive to a positive overall mindset about working.

  32. Liz2*

    The clamor and French fry jokes when I got my degree in Philosophy was tremendous! Rather than helping provide options and consider my other skills, it was a constant barrage of why I was wasting my time.

    Ha, fooled them. But would have been nice to have some help and not just derision.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If I had it to do again, I would have asked “Why are you getting so much enjoyment from anticipating my failure?”

      The longer version was “If your next generation fails that does not mean you win by default. Actually it means you have LOST. You FAILED to produce a generation that thrived. This is a bad plan, because if the next generation does not thrive you will not be taken care of in your old age.”

      1. AnonEMoose*

        This is so true. On a micro scale, one of the things I say about my parents is that I appreciate that they believed, from the beginning, that their end goal was to produce an independently functioning adult. So their parenting decisions were largely based on that idea – they had me practicing decision making and thinking for myself when the consequences of a bad decision were small. And while my life as an adult isn’t perfect, it’s good.

        I think, as someone upthread pointed out, some people have a deep-seated need to feel “better than,” and I think that some of the relatives feel that the daughter is somehow being “uppity,” and needs to be “put in her place.” They may not even recognize that they feel that way, but I’d guess it’s driving some of the behavior.

  33. Scotty Smalls*

    What does it say about me that neither retail nor fast food would ever hire me?

    Anyway, I’m glad OP is supportive and that her daughter has the means. I don’t know if lecturing the daughter about the possibility of needing to take any job is really going to help at this moment. Depends on their relationship and if Mom knows she’ll listen and take it into account or just get annoyed.

    My little sister’s only job has been at the fish lab at the University and it’s an entry level grunt work job like any other. Perfect for the people averse personality she is. Now she’s helping gather research to present at a conference.

    1. Can It Be Friday KThx*

      “What does it say about me that neither retail nor fast food would ever hire me?”

      To me, it says that those jobs require a certain skillset, despite being widely considered low-skill jobs that “anyone” could do. I know engineers with PhD’s who couldn’t last a day as a line cook or a bartender.

      1. Scotty Smalls*

        I agree now. But when I was looking for a job as a community college student (during a recession) I thought I was doing something wrong.

        1. Brendioux*

          Same here. I couldn’t even get hired at any store at the mall that were hiring for the holiday season…. it sure made me feel like crap to the point of thinking I would be unemployed forever if I couldn’t even land those jobs… thankfully I got a job through someone I knew eventually.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        LOL. I know a person with a doctorate who would not last a full shift in retail.

        1) Rules are not up for debate.
        2) Stupid rules are not up for debate, either.
        3) Corporate is always correct, even when they are wrong.
        4) Save your printouts. No, you cannot throw that in the garbage. Yes, you have to dig it out of the garbage. Please don’t turn this into a 45 minute discussion, just get the paper out of the garbage.
        5) The money has to be accurate. No, you cannot be off by 25 cents. No, you cannot put 25 cents from your own pocket in to the till to avoid a write up. Just stop making mistakes, be perfect at all times.
        6) Your numbers don’t match up. Yes, you have to find out why. No, you can’t just hope things will look better tomorrow.
        7) No, you cannot tell the customer to go scratch. Yes, I know he dropped the f-bomb. We cannot lose one customer the company might go bankrupt. Learn to be more tolerant.
        8) You were 30 seconds late for work. Don’t you understand that this store will fall apart if you are 30 seconds late? Yes, walls will collapse and the ceiling will cave in, do not be late. Ever.

  34. Erin*

    Tell family to mind their own business when they say something to you.
    Encourage daughter to do the same. It’ll be a useful skill in her adult life, she’s only just begun and busybodies get much, much worse if tolerated.

  35. EleonoraUK*

    I’m learning with age that just because people ask doesn’t mean you have to give them a detailed answer. It’s the hardest thing in the world for me, but when I manage it with people who I know mostly ask so they can disagree/disapprove/dis-whatever, it makes life so much easier. It seems like the OP and her daughter might benefit from the Art of the Non-Answer as well.

    “Oh, she’s so busy applying to jobs, you know how it is! What jobs? Gosh, too many to list! Now how are little Jonny and Jimmy?”

  36. nnn*

    In addition to everything else, many fast food/retail sort of jobs would be reluctant to hire a university graduate with experience in her degree field (which is what OP’s daughter will be next time she’s looking for work.)

    (I can’t tell through the internet whether OP’s perception that fast food outlets in her area will hire any warm body that expresses an interest is accurate or just what it looks like to an outsider, but I can tell you that my parents’ generation was unanimous that fast food would hire anyone, and fast food outlets were unanimous that they wouldn’t hire anyone without fast food experience or anyone with education or experience that they perceived to be “better” than fast food work.)

    If circumstances and personalities permit, something OP could do is mention during the course of a completely non-daughter-related conversation the fact that minimum wage type jobs these days often refuse to hire people with unrelated experience, perhaps from the point of view of “Things are so much harder for kids these days! If times get tough after they’ve started their career, they can’t even depend on being able to fall back on things like food service!”

  37. dear liza dear liza*

    This can also be a reflection of different outlooks on work. I’m the only one in my family who went on to college; they were baffled by my then going on for my masters. (They understood my brother much better; he got a state job after high school and will be made in the shade in 20 years because he’ll get the state pension. He hates the job but shrugs it off because pension! Just 20 years!) To my family, a job is what you do because you have to; a common refrain is, “It’s called work for a reason.”

    In my situation, I think a lot it is tied to economic insecurity. Being able to pick and choose your position is a luxury, I know. I have no idea what the OP’s family status is, but this might be the background for others who get similar pushback.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Except a lot of places are going bankrupt so pensions aren’t guaranteed. Your options may be far more diverse than his.

  38. animaniactoo*

    OP, repeat after me: “If what I/she is doing doesn’t work out, of course I/she will look at changing my/her approach. In the meantime, I/she is going to try it this way and see how it goes. Since there’s no urgency about getting a job at this point, it’s not a problem if it doesn’t work out, and I/she will have a better sense of what’s possible through experience and can build on that. Thanks for your concern, but I/she has it covered for now.”

  39. Stop That Goat*

    She landed a job so the strategy ultimately worked.

    That being said, I do think everyone needs to work in customer service, retail, and/or food service at least once in their lives. The skills I gained from working in a customer service environment have been useful in so many jobs. That’s really besides the point though.

    Tell your family to back off.

    1. F M*

      Working in retail once in my life was enough to give me a massive aversion to ever doing so again, and made various of my social anxiety issues noticeably worse. The main skill I gained from working in a customer service environment was learning how to be deferential and flattering to hostile people who were outright wrong, which made it even harder for me to get out of situations with creepers later in life, because I’d been taught a lot of ingrained responses for threatening people that came down to pleasing them as much as possible.

      A friend of mine who worked several retail jobs because people told her she should take any job she could get ended up with even worse problems, and it derailed her career progress for years. She said outright that the jobs had been so traumatizing she would rather be homeless than ever do a customer-facing retail job again, and I believe her.

      I’m sure many people learn useful skills from working retail. But working retail can screw people up, too, and it’s not some glorious learning experience everyone should get a shot at, any more than doing hard labor outside is. Some jobs really aren’t suited to some people.

      1. Stop That Goat*

        Working in any toxic environment can screw people up though and that’s not specific to retail or customer service jobs. Learning how to deal with irate and unreasonable people is a skill in and of itself that most folks should have. Learning empathy for the service industry by working in those positions is another bonus as well.

        Sorry that your experience sucked but the lessons I learned while waiting tables and working in a major call center have paid back tenfold professionally. As an introvert, I’d NEVER do either again so it’s not always rainbows and butterflies either.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        ” She said outright that the jobs had been so traumatizing she would rather be homeless than ever do a customer-facing retail job again, and I believe her.”

        I marvel at how tone deaf some retailers are. They are really living on their own planet.

      3. LadyL*

        I think everyone should work in customer service, but not for the skills.

        I think the world would be a better place if everyone had experience working a relentless, exhausting, demanding, incredibly difficult job that gets you no respect, regular verbal abuse, and awful pay, so that for the rest of your life when you’re out buying stuff at Best Buy or ordering pancakes at Denny’s and something isn’t going your way, you remember being the employee in front of you, and you find empathy and sympathy for them and treat them like human beings.

        I like to think that I’m a “good” person who would treat employees right no matter my life experience, but I really don’t think people understand how much skill is required to even just be mediocre at “unskilled” labor, or how those jobs work at all.

        1. F M*

          You…just want people to suffer? You explicitly want every person in the world to have a horrible, unfair, traumatic experience at length? And this would make the world a better place?

          I have to disagree with you there. I don’t often agree with Plato, but when he wrote Socrates saying that viciously beating a dog or a horse doesn’t make the horse or the dog any better, he had a point. In my experience, making people suffer a lot is going to cause more problems than it solves. Most people are not Harry Potter, and most people do not react to vicious abuse by becoming more empathetic and angelic.

  40. Nervous Accountant*

    It’s so funny how people get so offended when it comes to choosing jobs. My not wanting to work in a daycare or fast food or retail or being a teacher is not me judging you for doing so. In fact I think highly of these professions (obviously not everyone is great at their job but that’s on the person, not the job).

    I work in my field now, and I still get suggestions to quit and work for the govt, work for the post office, run my own business (from family). I’ve no interest in any of that. *shrugs*

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Well, not just you, but the OP’s daughter, too, apparently is just saying “This is not for me,” and not “This is beneath me.”

      1. SL #2*

        Yep, I think that’s the difference in interpretation here. Nevermind the derailing thread at the top of this comments section, but the OP’s relatives seem to be interpreting the daughter’s motives as “fast food/retail is beneath me because I’m going to have my degree and only pick the jobs I want,” when that’s really not the case.

        OP: keep supporting your daughter and her choices, and help her fend off any relatives who really ought to be minding their own dang business.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Gumptiony types are also often guilty of the thing where they encourage young people to get the degree in the first place “so you won’t end up working fast food,” and then once the person has the degree, turn around and go “what, you think you’re too good for fast food?” Well, generally, no, but if the young person had internalized that message, just where does Aunt Gumption think the idea came from to begin with?

  41. silvertech*

    OP, thank you on behalf of every child who needed her/his parents’ help to defend them from endless, pointless and hurtful criticism from the extended family.

  42. Government Worker*

    We hear from a lot of hiring managers on this site, and they’re constantly annoyed by “resume spam” from people applying to everything in sight regardless of qualifications or even interest level. We’re constantly hearing that job seekers get much better results when they’re careful about what they apply for, tailor their application materials, and demonstrate genuine interest to hiring managers. It sounds like OP’s daughter is doing everything exactly right, from that perspective. The degree to which a search can be tailored evolves with experience and circumstances, but it sounds like OP’s daughter hit on a good balance if she found many jobs she was willing to apply for and got at least to the interview stage with several. I’d say she’s positioning herself well for her future job searches.

    I’m also kind of irritated by all the people in the comments who equate “not wanting to work with the general public or kids all day” to “hates people and needs a job where she never speaks to anyone.” I am seriously not cut out for dealing with the public for 40 hours a week, and I classify myself as an introvert, but I spend plenty of time interacting with colleagues, in meetings, dealing with vendors, etc. The difference is that I work with a more limited circle of people, many of whom I’ve had a chance to get to know over time and all of whom generally behave professionally. There’s a big difference between calling Fergus to ask him a question about the teapot sales figures and a commission-based retail position or dealing with angry patrons at a fast food restaurant.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Re: “all the people in the comments” — there’s been literally one person saying that! Everyone else has been pushing back on it.

  43. autumnwood*

    From one mom to the another – good job! Your daughter is learning about herself, and how she wants to function as an adult, which is just what she’s supposed to be doing at this point in her life. AND she got her own job based on what she’s learned – double points! My daughter is 16 and I’m constantly being asked why she’s not working this summer (subtext: lazy, entitled teen). Shut the you-know-what up. It was our decision and I approve for reasons nobody but the the two of us need to know anything about. Sounds like you’ve raised a smart, self-aware young woman. Nice work!

    1. Kristine*

      I agree. In fact, the daughter is finding jobs that are less visible, which is a skill in itself.

  44. Katie Fay*

    I think the LW’s daughter is very self-aware to focus her job search on positions where she can be successful and contribute; it doesn’t makes sense to take a job otherwise.
    And really, these opinions of other family members sound annoying and intrusive – it really isn’t up to them at all.

  45. Coldbrewinacup*

    Couple of things: first, the family needs to understand their input, while “appreciated,” isn’t helping. Your daughter sounds like she has things figured out and is on her way. You could gently tell them to butt out.

    Second, to your daughter’s introversion and shyness: nothing wrong at all with introversion. Nothing wrong with shyness either, but speaking from experience, it can be crippling if not addressed. I grew out of mine (mostly), but it has caused issues for me. Let your daughter take the lead here though, of course.

    Best of luck.

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      The daughter worked at a residential camp for two summers, so unless she found that job overwhelmingly horrible — which I’d guess she didn’t given that she came back the next year — it sounds like her introversion isn’t holding her back :-)

      It’s also possible to lead a happy grownup life without “growing out of” being introverted. I’m doing pretty well in a front-facing job but would really like to move into a more back-end part of my field partly because I’d like to have a social life. I’ve gotten skilled at the types of people interactions I do at my job and enjoy them most of the time, but being an introvert means that if I’ve had a busy day at work I then desperately need to recharge in the evenings and weekends rather than hanging out with friends who I like way better than even the nice customers at work.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’s not even input. It’s put-downs. They are putting OP’s daughter down without even trying to understand. It’s criticism for the sake of criticism.

  46. Bored and Confused*

    Good job encouraging your daughter! As an introvert myself I wish I had the financial stability that allowed me to be picky. I love helping people but after eight hours I’m completely exhausted from being around people all day. It’s much better for her to get experience in her field now than to work whatever job she can get and end up getting stuck in retail even after graduating because for some reason companies think that you can’t be trained after you leave school (speaking somewhat cynically from experience). By working in a job that suits her personality she is much less likely to get burnt out and will have much better mental health than if she forced herself to work a job that constantly exhausted her in that overly stimulated introvert way.

  47. Laney M.*

    This reminds me of when I turned a guy down for a date and my friend told me I was being “too picky.” Maybe she was trying to help, but to me it sure sounded like “you might think you can do better, but you probably can’t, so settle already!”

    That’s not the kind of lesson you want to be drilling into a person in her early 20s.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Great point!
      OP if family really does not understand you could say something along these lines.

  48. Can It Be Friday KThx*

    My extended family did a lot of this “what are you doing with your life” / “why do you think you’re too good for X when it’s what I did” haranguing when I was that age. I was not fortunate enough to have a parent supportive enough to push back or stick up for me.

    I think that mentality is partly connected to resentment. Perhaps OPs family resents Daughter for being in the fortunate position she is where she is able to be choosy about her summer job? Who knows?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Or it could be that this is how their elders treated them so they know nothing different.
      But this is one of the bigger reasons why I did not enjoy my 20s. People seemed way too interested in seeing me fail.

  49. Kristine*

    Why is the extended family involved at all in a woman’s daughter’s choices? I don’t remember my aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc., even knowing where I was working – “she has a job” was good enough. I certainly cannot imagine my mother enduring “lectures” about it. Is this a consequence of social media?
    I’m an introvert who ended up in office jobs/consulting after enduring the fast food torture. If this woman’s daughter has been hired in her field, what’s the problem? Did these relatives’ kids major in less employable subjects and therefore need fast food/retail jobs?

    1. LCL*

      Some families are like that. I was married to someone from one of those families, in the dark ages before social media.

    2. SL #2*

      I don’t know if it’s a consequence of social media as it is a consequence of just having people with meddling personalities in their family. Information about job searches can still be discussed if OP and their relatives are on the phone, or if the daughter mentioned something to a cousin who mentioned it to their parents, etc. My dad’s side of the family is the exact same way, so I just didn’t tell my dad anything about my job search, ever.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      In my case it was retired people with very small worlds. There was not a lot going on except for the things the “kids” were doing.

  50. I woke up like this*

    I think your daughter’s idea to volunteer is a great one (obviously not for this summer, since she has a job, but for the future). I worked throughout my time in college, and while yes, I did have some customer service jobs to supplement my income, I also had some really great (paid!) jobs thanks to my volunteer work. The volunteer work I did eventually got me jobs like Outreach Coordinator for my campus’ Women’s Center and Event Planner for the Multicultural Center. I graduated college with a really robust resume thanks to the volunteer work that eventually turned into paid work.

    There are many different ways to get work experience on a resume while in college that don’t have to require your daughter to be miserable! Keep up the supportive parenting–you and your daughter are doing great.

    1. Leena Wants Cake*

      One great thing about being a volunteer–particularly in a organization that depends heavily on volunteer labor–is that you can often assume greater responsibilities and build more advanced skills than you could in any paid position or internship you are qualified for. Younger workers can get experience–technical, organizational, managerial–though strategic volunteering that they would not otherwise not get until they were mid-career employees. This can absolutely help them get jobs.

      During my earliest years in the workforce, when I didn’t have any proven experience that would qualify me to work in my desired field and couldn’t get hired in even an entry level position. Instead, I spent several years working with a volunteer organization where I was given increasing levels of responsibility in a relatively short time. These experiences probably allowed me to “skip” months or years of entry level employment because I had already demonstrated higher level skills (including managing events, programs, and a staff) through my volunteer work.

      Of course, not everyone has the option to pursue unpaid opportunities like this, and that’s a problem.

  51. saffytaffy*

    This sounds harsh, but I really believe “any job is better than none” can be a poisonous, self-righteous lie that keeps people entrenched in the lower classes.

    1. Rocketship*

      As someone who lived by that philosophy for FIFTEEN YEARS before getting a job that pays anything near what could be considered a truly ‘living wage’ at a job that even comes close to utilizing any of my skills (and losing untold opportunities to build skills and experience in my desired field every step along the way)…

      YES. I completely agree with this statement. While there are some times that a person truly needs a job, any job… the only one who can decide that is *them.* I wish I’d been far more choosy when I was fifteen. I wish I’d had the kind of support LW is giving their kid. (LW, you are doing it SO RIGHT. SO. RIGHT.)

      I was under so much pressure to just take whatever unskilled entry-level job I was offered, it ended up teaching me that unskilled entry-level work was all I was good for. And this was for high-school spending money – my family didn’t need me contributing my income. I absolutely could have taken the time to find work that would have led me somewhere I actually wanted to be. But I had no model or guide for doing that, no encouragement to follow any of my passions. You know what waiting tables will get you? A lifetime of waiting tables.

      LW – Screw this ‘entitled millennial’ narrative and the crotchety stuck-up horse it rode in on. You’re saving your daughter decades of self-esteem issues, grinding near-poverty, and despair as she watches the person she wanted to be drift unreachably far away from the person she is. You keep doing what you’re doing. Anyone who’s not helping out can get out of the way.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, print this comment out and hang on to it. Remind yourself routinely you are right and Rocketship has a great summary of why.

    2. JAM*

      It took me the entirety of my 20s to learn that. Granted, that was the Great Recession too but I severely limited my lifetime earning power and retirement fund by believing in that. There’s a great comfort to accepting a job and then staying at a job because you feel safe or loyal to someone who was nice to you in a hard time. I realized one day that they did not have that same loyalty to me and I had been undervaluing myself for years. I increased my pay 50% the day I left and had doubled my old salary within 2.5 years. The any job mentality not only took away my pay, it took my self-respect. I’m a first generation college grad and my parents had a very blue collar mindset that they pushed onto me, to its benefit and detriment. The bright side is my parents are starting to come around to the idea and aren’t pressuring my youngest brother in the same ways.

  52. Young and Managing*

    Oh I love it when family tries to control job searches. My grandma recently offered to be a reference….I kind of want to call her pretending it’s an employer to see how she would communicate my qualifications…..She doesn’t even know what I do…..

  53. Brendioux*

    I get the feeling from reading all the other comments that I’ll be in the minority here but… this letter really rubbed me the wrong way. LW, you mention that your daughter worked with kids (twice I believe) and that has helped her determine that she can’t work with kids again, and that’s great! What I’m concerned about is her not considering any kind of customer service job because she is convinced she would hate it and wouldn’t be any good at it… i would recommend that she at least volunteer somewhere where she would interact with the public and provide some type of customer service so that she can give herself an opportunity to grow and at least be productive in a position like that despite her introversion. I say this as an introvert who was incredibly shy and even awkward but my first job involved talking to a whole lot of people on the phone (something that would give me a lot of anxiety at first) and my second job involved cold calling businesses, bidding on jobs, negotiating service agreements, and a whole lot of other stuff that would give me anxiety and stress just thinking of doing… at first! But I had to power through those jobs because it was my job to do those things, despite my shyness and introversion and preference for back end work that didn’t involve interacting with angry people on the phone. I ended up really learning and growing from these experiences and now I don’t think twice before stepping up and doing something that makes me incredibly uncomfortable at work, because I know that I can get through anything. Had I coddled myself and only taken jobs I was attracted to I honestly think I would still be the same introvert who almost feared interacting with people over the phone. I can also honestly say that at work you can tell who is used to only doing the things they want or prefer and never stepping out of their comfort zone, they don’t volunteer for tasks or step up to do what needs to get done sometimes because they have never gotten out of their comfort zones.

    1. F M*

      I’m an introvert who took jobs cold-calling people and in direct face-to-face customer service! They made my social anxiety noticeably worse, and derailed progress I was making in that area for years.

      Sometimes a comfort zone is a great place for people to get to. It can be hard work to find a place where I can be comfortable enough to get my best work done. I am much better able to volunteer for tasks and get stuff done when I’ve taken care of myself, instead of pushing myself into uncomfortable positions in an arbitrary “if it’s unpleasant, it’s good for me!” sort of approach.

      1. Anonygoose*

        I think there’s a difference between being an introvert and having social anxiety though – customer facing jobs could make introverts more comfortable with dealing with people, but make those with social anxiety struggle even more. And it all depends on the job – call centre jobs are insanely dehumanizing and spirit-breaking, but being a tour guide could be really pleasant and fun. Both are considered customer service.

        1. F M*

          Oh, there’s totally a difference between introversion and social anxiety, though they often come hand in hand. I’ve always been an introvert, but as a child I was a chatty, cheerful, friendly-to-strangers introvert. Social anxiety came later.

          I’m just generally wary of the “customer service will help you get better at dealing with people!” things some people assume. I suppose it can work for some people in some circumstances; in my experience, it drilled a lot of toxic scripts into my head that have taken years to unlearn, even aside from making my anxiety worse.

    2. ArtK*

      This worked for you. I trust the daughter knows herself well enough that she knows that it won’t work for her. How is your response any different than the LW’s relatives?

    3. Anon13*

      The thing about being an introvert is interacting with people all day can be very draining. I have to work in customer service (because I have to pay my way through school) and I come home from my shifts feeling like I was run over by a truck. I have fun at my job, and I love helping customers, but it is extremely mentally draining for me to be around people all day, everyday. It’s not that I’m bad with people, I jut get tired out by them easily. It makes working in retail very difficult because I have so little energy outside of work that other things I have to get done end up getting put off. I know that I would do better in a different position, but I literally can’t afford to be picky right now. I applaud this mother for understanding her child and supporting them.

    4. KellyK*

      I think there’s definitely value to doing things outside your comfort zone, but choosing a volunteer experience specifically because the whole thing is outside your comfort zone is a good way to make yourself miserable (and does a disservice to the organization you’re volunteering with if you don’t do a good job).

      With most jobs, there are going to be opportunities to take on tasks that are a little bit stressful, or to volunteer to interact with people in ways that might be stressful. Knowing that the OP’s daughter is shy, I think it would totally benefit her to find little ways to work on that. But she can do that in the context of school, or of the job she already has, rather than deliberately seeking out a customer-facing volunteer position.

      1. nnn*

        While reading your comment, I realized that what made me (with the shyness-introversion-anxiety trifecta) get comfortable interacting with people in a professional context was becoming highly competent at my profession, which was made possible by working at a job that’s within my field and well within my comfort zone.

        Prior to this, I did work in front-line customer service, and that just made me even more afraid of people. I never knew who was going to yell at me because they have to wait 2 minutes for fries, or because I didn’t swoon with lust at their sexual harassment.

        But after I got into my professional teapot-making position where I just sit quietly at my desk and make teapots, and over time received a critical mass of positive feedback about my teapot-making skills, it became no big deal whatsoever to answer client’s questions about my teapots, or contact clients to determine their teapot needs, or even apologize and resolve the problem when a client isn’t happy with a teapot I made myself.

    5. fposte*

      I do think that introverts (like me!) can get overfixed on the category, that sometimes the obstacle really is lack of experience, and that a comfort zone shouldn’t be a walled alley.

      But this is a single summer job, for a kid who’s already worked several summer jobs. It’s not a lifetime commitment; she’s got plenty of time to develop other strengths, and she’ll doubtless be developing plenty just by having the summer job. There’s no indication that she’s insisting she’ll never, ever do anything that involves the public at all; she just had a preference for this summer’s job hunt.

    6. Orlando*

      Since this has come up: I do think the daughter would benefit from working on the “shy and introvert” thing.

      For all we know, though, she already does that in the way she thinks best. I was originally hesitant to bring it up at all, because it’s a deciding how to manage that is a personal thing, and the OP didn’t specifically ask advice on it.

      Moreover, the OP’s daughter doesn’t sound coddled to me. She has already demonstrated willingness to step out of her comfort zone by working with children (and decided she didn’t like it) and she has demonstrated willingness to chose a backup option (volunteering). Going from “could afford to chose her preferred option on her summer job” to “never steps out of comfort zone” is rather a huge leap.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I would just like to point out that we are talking about jobs, not vocational rehab. To use a job to “fix” our problems and shortcomings (real or perceived) is not fair to our employers and cohorts. But most importantly it is not fair to ourselves. OP, keep encouraging your daughter to put herself somewhere she thinks she will have success.
      If your daughter decides she would like to extrovert herself there are many other options out there, she does not have to use her workplace to that end. She could join Toastmasters, she could volunteer to work directly with people, she could work on a political campaign, and there are so many other options.

      Please consider something a teacher told my class years ago. This man was a psychologist, he talked about making the choice between treating people and going into teaching. He decided on teaching but he had done some time in practice also. He said, that shyness and introversion were ONLY problems IF the person was having difficulty because of the shyness/introversion. If they are not having problems then there is nothing to worry about.

      I took this to heart. I considered myself very shy and naturally introverted. I thought about what he said and realized, “Wait. I am happy being where I am. It suits me for [reasons].” Interestingly, once I became at ease with my own limitations, I started going out beyond those limitations. In my case, I guess I just needed to accept my own self.
      Your daughter is finding ways to work within her needs. This takes creativity to find responses that fit a set of givens. It takes courage to go forward in spite of these boundaries. Your daughter sounds like a very bright woman. I am sure she will do well in what she has thoughtfully chosen. It doesn’t get any better than that.

  54. Elise*

    My brother had this issue from the other way around. I finished college in one go, worked at a movie theater during and lucked out with a job in my industry (though quite low paying) right out of school. I have always had a knack for school where I didn’t have to try too hard. My brother is not like that, but he is a fantastic worker. I know this because he’s constantly asked to move to different locations in his area to open new stores, and this is not usual for all employees.

    He dropped out of college 2 years in, and I just can’t even with the family comments and opinions on this. He took a full-time job with a coffee shop in a grocery store chain. This job paid his bills and rent. He knew he was not hacking college at the time. Since then, he did go back and finish his degree, but he has also moved up to become the premier “store opener” for his area and has purchased his own home. If he had listened to them, he would not have gotten that experience in a career that obviously suits him. But then my family are all lawyers and other “professionals” and saw him as settling. The opposite of this person’s family.

    All of the TLDR to say that I ended up standing up for him and shutting down the comments for him when I thought he was being too nice. Yes, he was perfectly capable of doing this on his own, but sometimes it’s nice to get backup in the situation that no, it is NOT OK to judge him or continue to lecture him/tease him for this (there was a lot of “English major working at a coffee shop” ribbing going on). I’d do the same for my daughter. I know family dynamics are hard, but if you have the ability to shut it down, please do. Or at least tell your daughter that you support her decisions and don’t expect her to sit and take it. And stop sharing details with them.

  55. Orlando*

    Hey, OP.
    Your daughter sounds very mature! She knows her own weaknesses. She is able to identify jobs she likes and she’s a good fit for. This is a skill. It will serve her well in the future. And she was willing to volunteer as an alternative, which is awesome.

    Kudos to you for supporting your daughter through this. Please don’t doubt yourself. All the reasons you gave make sense. Oh, and something else. If your daughter is going about her job search in a less than ideal way, the right person to tell her about it is someone she trusts and respects and willingly confides in (i.e. you). Not the entire Formidable Extended Clan!

  56. NoNameNoState*

    In my extended family, this type of criticism often has a darker side. Not doing things I way I did, or even just the way I think you should do them, will be taken as an overt statement of open disagreement with and superiority to me. This is not acceptable. If my niece goes to grad school, when her uncle drives a bus, she is “putting on airs” and “showing off.” If my son gets into med school, and my cousin in a high-school dropout, the family response will be “Who does he think he is?” and “I’ll bet you think he’s so smart” instead of “Congratulations!” or even “Will he take a look at my rash?” If you work a job where you are not allowed to dress in jeans and tennis shoes, you are subject to pity, and if you wear a tie to work, you are only doing so to with the express intent to insult your kinfolk who are doing minimum-wage entry level work. Sign, it’s tough trying to climb out of the crab bucket.

    1. CM*

      Yes, reading this letter I was wondering if the daughter going to university, and having money set aside for it, is unusual in this family, and relatives are expressing their resentment at her uppity ways.

      It’s also possible that the relatives will eventually see that she’s doing well, and will turn their criticisms into pride — “Even though we all told her to work fast food, she ignored us and look where she is now!” I know that sounds wildly optimistic, but I’ve seen it happen a few times.

  57. Making myself nuts...*

    Bless you, dear mother, for knowing and supporting your daughter.
    Bless you, dear daughter, for knowing yourself and sticking to your guns.

    Rest of the family can stuff it.

    I get to say that because I thought you were talking about my family.

  58. NaoNao*

    Perhaps Millennials are “entitled” in their thinking that they should choose a job (if they can) that fits their skills, interests, and personality due to the tremendous wave of “follow your bliss” articles, books, and commencement speeches that Baby Boomers *gave them*.
    Entire industries (wellness, lifestyle blogging, life coaching, MLM businesses, and more) focus heavily on not having a boss, using your time the way YOU see fit, making tons of money do what YOU love and having freedom and choices.
    Many of those businesses were started by Baby Boomers or Generation X and are heavily marketed to Millennials.
    Just like complaining about “participation trophy” culture, it begs the question:
    If you’re so unhappy with how “we” turned out, ask yourself “Who made them this way?”
    …signed, a Xennial.

    1. fposte*

      Though some of that lies at the feet of the people who buy the stuff too. “Follow your bliss!” is a lot more enticing message than “Follow the path of working at jobs you’re not crazy about because that’s most people’s life, and that’s okay!”

      1. NaoNao*

        Truuuuue, although part of “follow your bliss” messages, to be fair, includes “work hard at your dream, nothing comes easy.” But an experienced, educated 50 something with lots of credibility in the business world deserves to be held more accountable than an 18 year old high school graduate with little or no work experience, or a 22 year old college graduate going out into the professional working world for the first time.

        The generation that raised Millennials (in general) is the Baby Boomers, and while each person is an individual, that group did a LOT to dramatically change the culture of work from heads-down hard work with being humble as a virtue to looking up to outspoken, deliberately iconoclastic and provocative “genius a$$holes” who demanded change, self actualization, and “bliss” and got it. (Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and other industry titans).

        1. fposte*

          It’s kind of the high-fructose corn syrup of labor, isn’t it? Hard to resist, easy to peddle, not very good for you.

          1. NaoNao*

            Hee hee, totally.
            I believe that everyone’s ‘work map’ is different. There’s no one path to success or happiness.

  59. Roker Moose*

    I’m similarly introverted and hated the idea of working with the public. But I took a retail job one summer, thinking it would look good on a CV. I barely made it through three months and left the shop every day in (or near) tears.

    Not everyone is cut out for service and hospitality jobs. There’s nothing wrong with waiting for something which suits you, or at least, doesn’t make you entirely miserable.

    Not to mention, if you enjoy(ish) your job, you’re likelier to be more productive and engaged during the workday. Clock watching and hiding in the back room dont serve anyone’s interests, from the employer to the employee to the customer.

    1. Kat M.*

      Yep, at 19 I got a job as a file clerk and ate lunch in a closet so I wouldn’t have to make awkward conversation with other employees.

      Just me, the alphabet, and a hallway full of folders. I would hate it today, but boy was that a great summer job.

      Meanwhile, my sister was waiting tables, but she doesn’t have an introverted bone in her body. Could we have made it work if things were switched? Probably. But I think our respective employers were happier with kids working for them who actually felt good about the work they were doing.

  60. Lissa*

    I’ve been in a position where I have had to take any job that came my way. It was horrible. I’m not there anymore, and am so grateful and happy that I can turn down jobs that I don’t want. It doesn’t help that “thing I am terrible at and don’t want to do” is cleaning, which I think makes even more people think I am being snobby/entitled than hating customer service, especially because I’m female. No, I’m just really bad at it!

    It’s absolutely true that being able to be somewhat picky about jobs is a privilege. But I don’t see how it follows that it means me, LW’s daughter or anyone should just throw away the privilege to make other people happy. I mean, I do think it’s important to acknowledge that it *is* a privilege, and not say things like “ugh, I would never work a job like that” to somebody who is trying to support themself and doesn’t have a lot of options. (The number of times I heard “I would just quit!” and similar when I was struggling to pay my rent was not great.)

    But I am so much happier now that I can not work jobs when I have to clean anything, not because cleaning is “beneath me” but because I don’t like having to redo it when my supervisor sees it’s not up to standard…working jobs I was not good at took *such* a toll on my self-esteem, and I still struggle with feeling like I’m doing well at work, even though my current job matches my skills perfectly and I have never had negative feedback.

  61. Aloot*

    I’m pretty firmly of the opinion that if you don’t HAVE to (as in, financially cannot pass on a job no matter what it is) then you should never apply for jobs that you know you would hate, be miserable in, and be shitty at. Your daughter had that opportunity, and that’s great! Her getting rejected for a customer service heavy job because she showed throughout the interview that she’s just not a customer service person – who does that help? Nobody. Not her, not you, not the employer. Just a waste of time for everyone.

    For your family, I think you’d be better off endorsing her and then changing the topic immediately.

    “I’m really happy she went for a job relating to her chosen field!” or “I’m very happy she got the job that was related to her field!”

    “Wah wah she should apply more broadly! WAH WAH!!”

    “Well, she got the job she wanted so no need to think about that now. How is the bean dip? I tried out a new recipe, I find it quite tasty!”

    This as well as putting the lecturing people on a strict info diet ought to give you more peace next year. Just say “oh, we’ve got that covered already, what a relief! How about that bean dip?”

  62. Master Bean Counter*

    OP your daughter is doing everything right.
    Just make sure she knows it’s okay to tell people who lecture her for stupid reasons to go pound sand.
    She’s going to run into a lot of people in her career and life that will think they know what’s best for her, when they really have no clue. Knowing that it’s okay to brush these people off and move on early in life will save her lots of trouble later.

  63. Tuxedo Cat*

    My two cents are that your daughter is an adult so right or wrong, she’s entitled to make her own choices in life. People can weigh in once but anything more seems to be unnecessary. It doesn’t sound like she’s making bad life choices because she was hired in her field, and she sounds pretty fortunate. As long as she realizes that, I don’t see what the big deal is. Working in her field vs. working in retail or fast food will be better for her career. I think putting relatives an information diet is the best bet.

  64. Falling Diphthong*

    She reached the conclusion that she never again wants to work with children.

    This is one reason work experience when you’re young is so valuable–you learn what you do and don’t like in the soft areas of a job. Like the amount of human contact, and type of human contact, and whether it’s a job within set hours or varies, how much you need to improvise, and so on.

    OP, I have kids this age and so know a ranging cohort–if she wanted work experience and were looking for work by sitting in her room hoping that a dream job would fall out of the sky and hit her, then I would be with your relatives. But:
    • She applied to a bunch of jobs. This is the biggest thing, and why you do not have a problem here.
    • She already had work experience, so she has the experience of work expects you to show up on time, do what you’re told, pitch in whenever needed, etc.
    • She doesn’t have to work to eat, or otherwise need any job right now and three weeks from now would be way worse. If you do, I advocate applying for fast food and so on–it’s not bad for young people to pick up the attitude that there is no shame in working at a boring job so that you can pay your bills.

  65. Blue Eagle*

    My Mom was really awesome when relatives made similar comments about me. She just asked them “has Blue Eagle been asking you for money? Is that why you are so interested in her job search so she would stop asking you for money?” Of course I never asked them for money. But Mom’s question would pretty much stop them in their tracks and they would respond “no” to which she would then say “so why does it matter so much to you what she is choosing to do?”
    My Mom was awesome!

  66. Nox*

    I’m a young introvert manager who has no college education that was fortunate enough to get in with a company and learn from the ground up. [Despite the dysfunction]

    I never take it for granted especially being a POC in a very small industry where everyone knows each other. That being said I got really lucky that I was able to start my career her not dealing with the public and eventually got comfortable with dealing with people to where I work with clients on a regular basis. Sometimes I freeze up but I’m good at hiding it and I have all sorts of things I do to help refocus me… So good for her that she got to choose what she wanted.

    If it was up to the rest of the world based on my education is be told I don’t deserve to be up here and I should be flipping burgers.

    1. Former Employee*

      Good for you, Nox. I lucked out, too, in that I didn’t have a college degree and managed to work my way up to a professional level job. I was never a manager, but was responsible for making decisions that involved millions of dollars. That was a long time ago and I didn’t think it was possible for younger people to have such opportunities these days. It’s good to know that these types of situations still exist.

  67. I am not a lawyer but,*

    When I started in the banking industry eons ago, I learned that the only people who get to avoid customers were the ones at the very top (who dealt with customers who were also executives) or at the very bottom. You could earn a low-middle-class income in the depts that processed checks, or mailed out statements, or tracked assets, or did internal audits, for example. Some of those jobs are still around and they look for introverts bc extroverts would go crazy there.

  68. rj*

    LW I applaud you and echo so many of these commenters. So hard. I had many jobs as a young person that involved far more contact with the public than works for my personality because I was a nice Christian girl and so was heavily socialized to help people in intense people-facing roles in summer camps, working with people with disabilities in activities of daily living, etc. (I’m still in to helping people… and these days do it with skills I actually have). It made me deeply unhappy. So glad your daughter has you!

  69. sap*

    I think your daughter is doing just great! Kudos to her for knowing her own strengths and needs when so young!

    I also think that your relatives are completely out of touch in whether someone in your daughter’s position is better off taking a non-paying job close to her field of study or a retail job which presumably isn’t anywhere related to her field of study (I’m assuming she’s not say a protoscientist who could be taking a retail job at a science museum or a protodesigner who could be taking a job at a boutique). Volunteer experience that is close to your field is way better for your daughter than paid experience totally unrelated (it sounds like she got the best of both worlds, though, so great! But it also sounds like these relatives would have been pushy/ballistic if she were volunteering at the local veterinary clinic instead of answering phones for a delivery company). So your relatives sound straight up nuts, and to always be ignored.

    They are absolutely right that being in a position to take a volunteer gig rather than a retail gig is a privilege that not everyone enjoys, but it doesn’t sound like your daughter has the attitude that she shouldn’t have to work because she has money, so her use of this privilege doesn’t sound like entitlement to me.

    And something has always read as a little unethical when people who don’t need a job at all take one or the limited “summer retail” positions just because “they’re supposed to” work at a paying job rather than a volunteer position. Isn’t it, in a sense, more entitled to be taking a paying job you don’t need and don’t want when there’s definitely someone out there that actually needs the money?

  70. OP*

    I’ve read about a third of the way through the comments so far, and I found the discussion about entitlement to be a surprising reaction. I can see how people might reach that conclusion, but someone summed it up well, in my opinion, by saying that because she is not dependent on this summer job financially, my daughter is priviliged. I have done my best to make sure she understands that, and she is aware that she is expected to be doing something productive with her summers. She was not saying she wouldn’t do entry level work–her current job, although it was advertised as Assistant Something Or Other, could be better described, from her outline of what she does each day, as Generalized Gopher. All the jobs she applied for would be considered, I believe, entry level. Some of them would have had her standing at a photocopier all day pushing the Print button, others, buried in the back room, filing. She says this job is rather boring, but that she prefers boredom to the terror of having to deal with multiple strangers every day. Since she would probably burst into tears the first time and angry customer yelled at her because the kitchen hadn’t taken the onions off his burger, I can sympathize with her preferring boredom. There are times when only the fact that I love her keeps me from telling her “Suck it up Buttercup, and grow a spine!”, but that is who she is.

    I had to laugh over Alison’s phrasing of: “relatives who have Very Important Input to provide”, as that captures them exactly. We did try to limit the information they received, but when the fast food place down the road has a sign up for a couple of weeks that they are hiring, and my kid still doesn’t have a job, they jump to (unfortunately accurate) conclusions about where she isn’t applying.

    Thank you for all your input. Some people suggested I make sure my daughter knows she doesn’t have to allow them to express their opinions to her, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever expressly told my her that when the relatives start poking their nose into her business, she has the right to walk out if they won’t heed her polite requests to change the subject or drop it. Since she tends to be very worried about causing a ruckus, it might be worth me directly passing on that suggestion to her. It might save a lot of stress for her in the long run, if she just refused to stick around to be lectured. I can better deal with their horror about “How Rude That She Won’t Let Us Tell Her How To Run Her Life”, and variations on that theme than she can. Having lived through their admittedly well-meaning, but still unwanted on my part, desire to tell me what I should do on any and every occasion for most of my life, I am a little more willing to incur their displeasure, and being used to it, I do not get as upset by it as my daughter does. Besides, if they get offended enough to stop speaking to us (temporarily, alas!) I would consider that a win, as it would give us a period of timde free of their Very Important Input.

    1. sap*

      It sounds like you’ve raised a great kid and like you’re doing so with wonderful sensitivity to her personality and strengths–not pushing her to develop “extrovert” personality traits when she doesn’t want or need them, not teaching her that she’s above menial work despite (it sounds like) being pretty financially comfortable, and encouraging her to play to her strengths when entering the professional world.

      And it sounds like you’re doing that despite having grown up in a family that didn’t do that for you (though I guess you don’t say whether these are distant cousins or your immediate family).

      You rock! If only all parents were like you :)

  71. AB*

    Please don’t let your family harrass your daughter! Have her back.

    My family (including parents) used to harrass me all the time. In the UK the school leaving age is 16 so you had to apply to colleges/6thform to study for another 2 years. After which you can apply to Uni and get a degree. Coming from a working class family, almost everyone I knew left school at 16 and went straight into full time work. Most keeping the same job for the next 30+ years. I had bigger ambitions. I wanted to work in engineering. So I stayed at school and then went to University. At the same time I always looked for part-time work (mid recession when every entry level/part time vacancy had 100s of applications!) but I managed to find some seasonal work every now and then. I used my student loans to pay my parents rent. And I lived through 5 horrible years of my parents/siblings/family calling me lazy, assuming I was studying because I was work shy, having many conversations about how I would probably never get a job because I thought I was ‘too good’ for it. Through hard work at uni I found a good 12 month engineering placement before I graduated. 5 years after graduation I’m doing very well and now my family talk about me being an ‘inspiration’ to my cousins etc. And my parents are proud. But irreparable damage has been done to my relationships with my family. I was a shy teenager too and nothing will undo those lonely years where everyone doubted me and I had no one in my corner.

    Your daughter is in College, she knows what her strengths and weaknesses are and is basing her job hunting around that. She sounds like she knows what she is doing. Tell your family to mind their damn business.

  72. Catherine*

    OP, isn’t funny how we all seem to have the same relatives? At least, I can relate to your letter. I agree with the advice that you can’t change tedious relatives, but you might look at it as an opportunity to model to your daughter (1) how to be a supportive person and (2) how to deal with unsupportive people without allowing yourself to be drawn. It sounds like you are already doing great at those things, but here are some things I would try on my own relatives. First, say a few things like, “One of the things I want her to learn in college is how to set career goals and make plans for meeting them. So far, her strategy is paying off, and I’m proud of her.” And “I’m working with her on learning financial planning so that she’ll reduce the future chances of having to take a job just because it’s a job. I’m hoping this was a good example to her of the benefits.” These remarks aren’t likely to have any effect on your relatives except to bore them, but it’s good for your daughter to know that these are the sorts of things you’re saying about her.

    Then, sometimes it works if you turn the conversation around and interview them about their own experience. Avoid getting annoyed and getting pulled into the pointless argument they are trying to draw you into (probably unconsciously on their part). Instead ask, with seemingly real interest (not sarcasm, which is the hard part), “Tell me about a time when you were able to turn the first job you could find into a job you really wanted.” If they’ve done this, you might learn something, and if they haven’t, the topic will probably dwindle off. If they’re really recalcitrant, they’ll just go back to the beginning of their rant, in which case you’ve at least proven to yourself that they’re the problem and can, if you’re patient, amuse yourself by continually redirecting the conversation where they don’t want to go, or if you’re impatient, feel fine about making an excuse and leaving the room.

  73. boop the first*

    It’s not always just introversion, sometimes it’s anxiety. I also tend to look only toward the less-customer-facing jobs, and believe me, they are just as terrible and entry-level as the cashier ones. So don’t anyone act like she gets to pass over the workforce hazing ritual.

    I did the cashier thing once, and at the time, my mother did lecture me that after time I will just “get used to it”, as if exposure to some of the worst people in society (entitled consumers) would cure social anxiety. It only took a couple of years to decide that I was going to quit and be unemployed right then, or I was going to commit suicide.

    These jobs work for some people. Some people really don’t make it out okay. And for money? For family jealousy? I’d be pretty pissed if my family tried to lecture me about it. But of course mine wouldn’t, because for some reason they actually wish for better things for me than retail. Go figure.

  74. Boom Baby*

    Graduated from high school in ’69. Introvert. Never had to work counter sales. Graduated college in ’73. Got job immediately. Never unemployed due to recession. Behind-the-scenes skills. Retired early.

  75. Indoor Cat*

    This is such an odd thing to me.

    I mean, okay, so: I get that class and income disparity sucks and is unfair. It’s very aggravating when a person is 20, living in poverty, trying to make ends meet by working two jobs and still improve their station by taking classes part time. And then that person hears about another 20-year-old who has the financial and familial resources to coast if she needs to and find a job that suits her. So, hypothetically, I could see a person feeling quite envious and frustrated and taking it out on the advantaged person by railing against her / lecturing her / implying she has some kind of character flaw.

    But these critics aren’t impoverished students or envious rivals. They’re family. Older family! They should know better!

    The fact is, if I have an advantage, I’m going to use it. Of course I feel bad that other people have struggles that I don’t have. I do what I can to help when I’m able, and try to lift others up with me. But there’s no reason to artificially disadvantage myself out of a sense of…what? Of fairness? Whom does that help?

    I have some advantages financially, which helped significantly mitigate some disadvantages I have. I’ve mentioned before about a serious medical / disability problem that I have, which limits the jobs I can get to a great degree (no lifting, er, pretty much anything; work-from-home [or, occasionally, hospital] options necessary). I suspect this limited me far more than OP’s introversion and shyness. And yet! I have a full-time career-type job now! Which doesn’t involve doing anything I can’t do, go figure.

    I did what OP’s daughter did: live with my parents and on personal savings, in my case after college rather than during (I had a solid on-campus job during school) and only applied for jobs that suited me, using this blog’s excellent cover letter advice.

    It worked for me. It worked for OP’s daughter. It’s definitely unfair for sure, in the sense that not everyone has that option, or has skills that can get one hired so quickly. But if the unfairness is weighted in her favor, why not use it?

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