Friday, December 30, 2011

Workin' for a livin'

This week I started a new job working for a non-profit. Working in the service industry with my college degree is highly frustrating, though my retail experience helped me a great deal in my new job. At the moment I am part time in both: 3 days in one and 3 in the other. My original job pays more, but I feel I'm stagnating since advancement is slow. That and it doesn't pay the student loans.

The new job has a lower base rate by 25 cents an hour, but if I choose to go full time I have more benefits and more advancement opportunities, so it is my hope that the new, non-profit job will be much more suitable for me. I had my first day of training this week and I had my first day of working yesterday. The non-profit job is street canvassing which is not an easy job. I spent 7 hours in downtown San Diego just saying "Hi" to everyone on a street. My more experienced coworker was with me to help me learn the ropes.

On training day I was given a packet which included a copy of "The Art of Street Canvassing" by Una LaMarche. Normally I suppose this is read aloud and discussed during training, but due to time restrictions I found myself reading it on my way to work my first day.

I agree with LaMarche's idea that canvassing would help public speaking skills. I know I am very shy and I prefer to ignore people. Fortunately I have the retail experience, so I know that when I put on my uniform I am an actor. Anything shouted at me, no matter how coarse, is not a personal insult. It is easy to forget that in any job, but at least in retail I have a sales counter as a physical barrier.

On my first day I looked a bit comical in my uniform baseball cap, shirt, and fleece, but the minute I stood in the shadows of downtown's buildings I was grateful for the layers.

"Hi how are you today? Real quick - what do you know about refugees?"

So far, my favorite objections are "Not today", "Help your people here first", and "I already have one of those". Even when I respond with "We do assist people here in the United States" a man continued to shout at me. The people that seem to care the most and talk with me are those about to lose their jobs, so they listen to the whole spiel but then tell me they can't help.

At lunch, we discussed the law of averages.

"One in ten. If you talk to ten people, two will sign up. It's your first day, you need to focus on saying hello. If you feel comfortable, then continue on with your pitch." Okay, I say hello to everyone in my retail job, but in retail, the person is already there with the intent of purchase. People walking near the courthouse are more in mind of their legal fees than donating to a worthy cause. Still I refuse to show my frustrations.

"Hi there! How are you today? Have you heard about the current situation in Somalia?"

I get some holiday travelers from the UK and Saudi Arabia, so at least they take the time to listen to what I have to say. By the end of the day I'm doing better with my pitch, but still no sign-ups. LaMarche didn't return after the first day, but I have a lot more resolve than that. I really would rather work for a good cause than waste away in retail.