Cover image for Help wanted : tales from the first job front
Help wanted : tales from the first job front
Lewis, Sydney, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxi, 310 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HF5382.7 .L484 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Help Wanted is a collection of candid first-person accounts by young people from across the nation, who talk about their first forays into the real world of work. The Chicago Tribune called author Sydney Lewis "the legitimate heir to Studs Terkel," and Terkel himself said, "Sydney Lewis is a natural to do this book. She's on the same wavelength as the young people recounting their first jobs. In its honesty and innocence, it's a strongly moving as well as revealing work."

Help Wanted discusses everything from difficult coworkers, tough bosses, and criticism to stringent deadlines, dress codes, and harassment and is a testament to how young people are prepared--or not prepared--for their entry into the workforce. It also offers tips for surviving the first months on the job and other advice not found in typical career guides.

Author Notes

Studs Terkel's long-time collaborator Sydney Lewis is the author of " A Totally Alien Life Form": Teenagers and Hospital: An Oral History of Cook County Hospital (both from The New Press). She lives in Chicago.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Lewis has worked with Studs Terkel, the celebrated author, lecturer, and oral historian; and she has followed in his footsteps with two collections of personal stories she gathered on her own. Hospital (1994) was an oral history of Chicago's mammoth, troubled Cook County Hospital, and "A Totally Alien Lifeform" (1996) let 47 teenagers talk about their lives and feelings. Now Lewis provides a fascinating counterpoint to Terkel's 25-year-old classic, Working (1974). She interviews 25 young people about their initial entry into the workplace. As her subjects test the waters, find their passion, make their way, and create careers, their stories reflect a diversity of hopes and dreams, uncover fears and uncertainties, and show the challenges of finding work that makes one feel connected and meaningfully engaged. They also universally address the need today to go to college. At the same time, they point out the importance of the role of the workplace environment and the managerial qualities of one's first boss in creating a satisfying work experience. --David Rouse

Publisher's Weekly Review

Twenty-five young people tell Lewis the good, the bad and the ugly about their first efforts to find a full-time job in this informative study of the real world of work. A prot‚g‚ of legendary oral historian Studs Terkel, Lewis ("A Totally Alien Life Form": Teenagers; Hospital: An Oral History of Cook County Hospital) astutely allows 20-somethings to tell their stories in their own words. Marc Spiegler, for example, explains how his first gig at a market-research firm taught him to hate the corporate workplace; after an exasperating two years, a casual conversation led him to journalism school and a successful career as a writer. Max Leonard, on the other hand, deferred college for a year to participate in Boston's City Year program, a kind of urban peace corps. "I have inspiration for years saved up from this experience," he told Lewis. Of course, life isn't always so rosy: Grace Tilsit, working at a Big Six consulting firm, told Lewis how she made a disastrous mistake on a client's account. Some of the people profiled are simply more compelling and eloquent than others; there are also too many platitudes ("You gotta experience, you gotta live, you gotta do") and banal conclusions: internships are invaluable; make as many connections as you can; switch jobs if you're unhappy. However, these are lessons many young people wantÄor needÄto hear, which positions Lewis's book as a potentially popular graduation gift. Most of the interviews date from 1997, and a "Where are they now?" epilogue allows the reader to see how the people Lewis profiled succeededÄor failedÄin following through on their dreams. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Studs Terkel's Working (1974) presented real-life work experiences to describe what people do and how they think about their work. Lewis (author of A Totally Alien Life-Form: Teenagers) incorporates Terkel's style by describing the experiences and thoughts of 25 young adults entering the workforce. Each chapter begins with a summary of five individuals and follows with details of their experiences. The first group of young workers is unsure about career goals; some individuals "test the waters" by moving from job to job. The second group feels passionate about the future but has to endure menial jobs on the way. The third group suffers high stress, job loss, dress codes, difficult coworkers, mean bosses, or tough criticism; individuals question themselves but often learn from their mistakes. Another group must overcome severe financial, family, and social hardships. Help comes from mentors, government aid, and scholarships. The final group has some success in finding a long-term career through internships, experience, and education. The book concludes by showing where each individual went two years after initial interviews with the author. Highly recommended for career management practitioners and those new to the job market. General readers; lower-division undergraduate through professional. G. E. Kaupins Boise State University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
I "No Timetable": Testing the Waters
T. J. Devoep. 5
Gina Parksp. 13
Troy Grahamp. 24
Max Leonardp. 33
Jenny Petrowp. 43
II "If You Knock, the Door's Open": Finding the Passion
Karen Hurleyp. 60
Gil Santoscoy, Jr.p. 72
Ray Mancisonp. 80
Gabrielle Lyonp. 95
Carl Valentinp. 107
III "Just Fire Me": Harsh Realities
Mary Hendersonp. 123
Isabel Lucerop. 132
Gillian Moorep. 143
Grace Tilsitp. 153
Julie Baxterp. 166
IV "A Foot in the Door": Making Their Way
Mick Betancourtp. 181
Chico Pinexp. 194
Credell Wallsp. 201
Cesar Riverap. 210
Iliana Romanp. 225
V "Real as It Gets": Creating Careers
Emily Hanfordp. 238
Jeffrey Marcusp. 252
Kate McFadyenp. 261
Robert Richmanp. 275
Marc Spieglerp. 288
Epilogue: Where Are They Now?p. 301
Acknowledgmentsp. 309