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September 7, 2010 9:53 PM   Subscribe

How do I find a job in LA before the end of September?

So I graduated in June with a bachelors in marine biology from UCLA, my lease ends after this month and I'm running out of money, but I don't want to move home. At school I worked in a lab for 1 year doing basic molecular biology work and for the past couple months have been applying to related things but with zero response.

At this point I am willing to accept pretty much anything and would like to make finding a job my full time job until I find one....but I'm not sure how to spend all that time most effectively.

Filling out online applications for things that I feel qualified for has so far failed, so ideally I'm looking for other suggestions. People seem to have jobs all over the place (retail, food delivery, grocery store, etc.), how do I get one for myself?

I refuse to believe that if I dedicate myself to this I can't find something, I feel like I just haven't been trying that hard party because I don't know what to try hard at. Tell me what to do Mefi and I'll do it!
posted by 12%juicepulp to Work & Money (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a professor from college you were close to? The one you worked with doing molecular biology? Can you ask them for help? Professors know other professors, and most (paid) RA jobs are found this way. Networking is good.
posted by brainmouse at 10:01 PM on September 7, 2010

Well there are two basic routes to get work fast:

1) Crappy office work. For this, sign up with a temp agency. It will be sporadic and shitty, but it's work.

2) Crappy non-office work. As you say, "retail, food delivery, grocery store, etc." For these you pretty much get a referral from someone who works there, or just look for "help wanted" signs, or just walk in and ask if they're hiring. In my younger days, I found delivering for Papa John's not bad, as these things go. The money was OK, and I got to drive around listening to music, and I only had to deal with jerky customers for 30 seconds at a time.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:10 PM on September 7, 2010

brainmouse also makes a good point. Despite all the cuts, UCLA is a very large employer. If you ask around on campus, someone may have something for a recent grad in need.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:11 PM on September 7, 2010

Make three resumes: retail / customer service, restaurant / food service, and office / professional. Print out about a good handful of copies of each one. Go to a nearby district with a lot of storefronts that seem relatively thriving. Go in every building and give them the most appropriate resume. They'll say that the manager isn't there. Ask when s/he is and come back then.
posted by salvia at 10:15 PM on September 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

Also, when you worked in the lab, you got paid, right? If you were working, and you left involuntarily (layoff, etc), you could be eligible for Unemployment. I'm not sure how that works for student jobs, and you might not be eligible, but it's worth looking into.

For years I struggled with money and somehow never even looked into Unemployment because I thought it was "for bums." It's nothing to be ashamed of; if you worked in the past you paid taxes to help support it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:15 PM on September 7, 2010

For the type of jobs you parenthesized (retail, customer service, food service) basically you walk into the establishment dressed nicely, ask for an application, fill it out then and there, and hand it to whomever is in charge. Bring a pen, and be ready with a copy of your resume and all the contact info for your schools, former jobs and internships, and references.

How have you been looking for jobs in your field of choice?
Have you talked to your favorite former professor?
Have you visited http://jobs.ca.gov/OEC/index.aspx?
Have you told Simply Hired to send you email with new job listings every day?

Fill out five or ten applications a day. Whatever you do, don't fill out one and then ride all your hopes on it and not do/apply for anything else until you've heard back about that one. That's a recipe for disappointment.
posted by carsonb at 10:17 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

The best way to find a job is to create a list of 20 places you would like to work, and call those places. If the first 20 places aren't hiring, create another list of 20 place you would like to work, and keep calling. You can probably call 20 places a day, or 100 places in a week. If just 1% of these places are hiring, you may get a job.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:24 PM on September 7, 2010

Another option for your list: post your availability at MeFi Jobs.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 12:21 AM on September 8, 2010

Visit your career services office. That's what they're there for and they will be a great asset to you.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:42 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you looked at jobs at UCLA? I don't know if UCLA is still hiring temps, but if you call Campus HR, they can tell you which temp agencies they use. Also check out SoCalHERC, which has job listings for most of the academic institutions in the LA area, as well as Southern California in general.
posted by mogget at 9:33 AM on September 8, 2010

It would help to know where you are now looking for jobs online.

Have you been using the UCLA (on and off campus) jobs database? I think it's called Bruin View or something like that.

For lab jobs, have you tried going to specific websites? Not just UCLA or USC, but things like research hospitals (Cedars Sinai, Children's, etc.). Hopefully you've figured out how useless craig's list is for science jobs.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:52 AM on September 8, 2010

Hi everyone, first off all the suggestions have been helpful, keep them coming.

I have been in contact with the professor where I used to work, but he doesn't know of anyone needing help at the moment. My funding came from an undergraduate research fellowship which ended when I graduated, and unfortunately the lab doesn't have money to hire an RA right now.

In order to use the UCLA career center after graduation you need to join the alumni association ($). I've been reluctant to use the money on what may or may not be helpful, but maybe it's worth it?

As for applying to retail/food service/menial office work type places I could use some help optimizing my resume. The internet seems to suggest that putting a skills section with things like "written and verbal communication" or "strong analytical and organizational skills" is the thing to do. This seems slightly silly and naturally I distrust websites trying to sell me resume building software, but on the other hand I don't really know what people hiring for these positions are looking for. Is having such a section a good idea or does it just makes you look silly?

Also research hospitals is a good suggestions, but I have a feeling it will be more of "put in a ton of work to fill out this online application, draft a cover letter, etc. and then hope that our computer system is kind enough to send an email when we fill the position." Based on what's happened so far without personal contact getting to the interview stage seems almost impossible. Unfortunately though most of the jobs I would actually like to do seem to have this type of application process, so any tips on making it out of that pile of unknowns?
posted by 12%juicepulp at 12:29 PM on September 8, 2010

In my experience, the alum network is worth it. Of course, it depends on how much it is, but when people talk about networking, that's what they're talking about. Join the network, go to every single event that the network puts on and work the room. People like helping people they perceive to be like them and the alum network builds that in. If there's an alum directory, look through it and send e-mails to anyone who looks like they might potentially know about work. Something like:
Mr. So-and-so/Dear So-and-so,

[We graduated from the same program at UCLA and you're working at my dream company! // We had the same research adviser and he suggested contacting you about a position at XYZ Company. // I met you at such-and-such event, and really enjoyed chatting with you. Your company sounds like a perfect fit for me because of XYZ.] What can I do to get my resume into the hands of the right person?

Thank you so much for your time

Phone Number
Street Address
The idea is to cut out the whole middle man of the computer auto resume sorter business. Because you're right, that's mostly a waste of your time. Sign up for employment agencies! They'll take a cut of your first paycheck (or a fee from the company), but they've got the inside channel for lots of work.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:03 PM on September 8, 2010

As for applying to retail/food service/menial office work type places I could use some help optimizing my resume. The internet seems to suggest that putting a skills section with things like "written and verbal communication" or "strong analytical and organizational skills" is the thing to do. This seems slightly silly and naturally I distrust websites trying to sell me resume building software, but on the other hand I don't really know what people hiring for these positions are looking for. Is having such a section a good idea or does it just makes you look silly?

Sure, have one, but at the end, and make it more specific than that. Basically, just put together a nice resume listing your name and address, education, work experience, and other skills (this last part should be short -- like Certified in CPR, bilingual English-Spanish, not like Excellent at Nose-Blowing).

Have you ever worked in a crap restaurant job before? It's all about running into the manager and either seeming like a hard worker (dishwasher, busser, prep cook) or seeming to fit the image of the restaurant (counter, host, server). It's not about your resume formatting. They may even make you fill out their junk corporate application form. The managers all have this beleaguered attitude (*deep sigh*) and/or a chip on their shoulder and/or an alcohol problem. In my experience at five places, anyway. It sucks. But it will pay rent while you find something good. So just get it over with, on the order of 5 city blocks (10-20 places / day). Remember to write down when the manager will be there and come back then. That is the only way you will get hired.

What to include:
Restaurant jobs: Any work in any sort of restaurant. Any work involving people. Multitasking. Fast paced work. Walking. Touch-screen computer use. CPR. Billing, invoices, cashier work. Memorizing (e.g., menu recipes, people's orders). Presentation skills. Troubleshooting issues that arose.
University of California, Riverside, Tuttle Microbiology Lab Assistant
* Supported ten researchers in a fast-paced environment
* Greeted students and visitors to the lab within five minutes of their arrival
* Cleaned and provided glassware to researchers on demand
* Ordered supplies and invoiced research teams for materials used
* Cleaned work stations to prepare them for next research team
* Ensured accurate reporting by maintaining attention to detail while juggling multiple workstations
Retail: Fairly similar, but particularly highlight sales and cashier experience. Maybe someone with retail experience can help out more here.

Office: The professional content of your work will matter more. Also include any sort of organizing or "created request forms / supply ordering systems / etc." In the skills section, include your typing speed and the computer programs you know.
posted by salvia at 11:36 PM on September 8, 2010

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