Because I am a teenager, one may assume my experiences in life are lacking compared to a reporter writing for the Inquirer for many years. However, my first experiences of job searching are still fresh in my mind.

Interviewing people for this Jobbing blog and shadowing a reporter who has been working her field for more than three decades and covers employment issues has given me a whole new perspective on the workplace. For example, it never occurred to me that I might not have a job in the future.

At my age, not to gloat, it hasn't been that difficult to get hired for a job. Not to dismiss my evident ego, but I have had about five jobs already under my belt all in completely different genres of work.  (I understand that it's partly because I live in the suburbs where shopping malls and low-wage jobs are more plentiful.) So far, I've waited tables at a pizzeria, taught little girls to tap dance, babysat for the neighbors and served customers at a chain store. I've also volunteered at a medical clinic in Reading where my father works. All these experiences, although short-lived, have definitely taught me many things, including my obligations as an employee and a person.

Even so, compared to working at the Inquirer, which would be a dream for me as a young journalist, these jobs seem like part of my past, not part of my future.  For one thing, I can't imagine living on the wages paid to a retail clerk or a waitress. While I've learned personal lessons at those jobs, my experiences there don't compare with those I've had at the Inquirer. I finally understand the true difference between a "job" and a career.

Being seventeen, I never understood how to have a career. Obtaining a job seemed simple -- take a resume (or fill out the resume online depending on the job) and then wait for the call. It was almost as easy as ordering from EBay; almost anyone could do it.

However, I can see now that obtaining a career is a whole different ball game. I always had the mentality that all it takes is to go to a well-recognized college and then companies would just kind of choose you; almost as if they were picking kids for a dodge ball tournament. Yet again, I couldn't have been more wrong.

The job market, I have learned, is a continuing rat race. The competition between students just fresh out of school has increased tremendously, leaving sweat-stained teenagers scared for their future. In this economy, the "hope stage," as my mentor put it very well, is starting to disintegrate within the souls of thousands of college graduates desperately seeking that entry-level job in their field that would soon lead them to their full-fledged careers.

Here's what I mean:  Two weeks ago, Ms. Von Bergen and I went to the Campus Philly Opportunity Fair at Temple University. You can read her story about it in the Memorial Day issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Opportunity Fair is essentially a region-wide job fair for recent college graduates. That's where I met Melanie Tan, who graduated earlier this month with an economics degree from Penn State. Now she's back home living with her parents in Northeast Philadelphia.

"It's very hard. All entry level jobs require experience and [they] won't hire you without experience. But how am I supposed to get experience without [this entry level] job," Tan said.

"I thought that when I got out of school, I would just get picked."