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Greg Schwem: Kids, never let skills and competence stand in your way

By Greg Schwem, Tribune Media Services

Humor Hotel

9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013

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I sat my daughter down for one of those heart-to-heart Dad talks that invariably begins with five simple words:

"Stop looking at your phone."

Mission accomplished, I pressed onward. "Vacation begins in a month, honey. Now that you're 16, have you thought about a summer job?"

"Absolutely," she replied, much to my amazement. "I'm going to be on television."

"Television, as in a TV personality? Are you qualified? I mean, you haven't done anything yet. Your resume is, for a lack of a better word, blank."

"That didn't stop the Kardashians."

"True, but . . ."

"Dad, I've got it covered. I've already been in touch with the local TV station."

"Fantastic," I said, admiring her tenacity. "What are you applying for? A summer internship?"

"No, the station is running a contest called 'Join Our News Team For a Day!' I just have to 'like' them on Facebook and then I'm qualified to win. I spent all night creating a bunch of alternate Facebook accounts to increase my chances."

"That's very nice, but even if you, uh, win, you're still going to need to interview with the station manager. You know your dad used to be a TV news reporter. The first thing you should say is . . ."

"F------ s---."

"Young lady, WHAT did you just say?"

"I said . . ."

"I HEARD you. Where did you learn to talk like that?"

"That anchordude in North Dakota. He said those words. On the air."

"Yes, and they fired him."

"Right. And the next day he was on Letterman. And 'The Today Show.' And 'Live With Kelly and Michael.' Sounds a lot better than North Dakota."

"I won't argue with that," I said, as memories of a weeklong business trip to Fargo came flooding back. "Still, sweetheart, you can't talk to your prospective employer that way. Mark my words, in a week that 'anchordude,' as you call him, is going to have nothing."

"Except a viral video. Do you have any viral videos, Dad?"

"I haven't checked lately. Look, I'm just trying to help you."

"And I appreciate that. I know exactly what you can do."

"What's that?"

"You have to run for president. And win."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Chelsea Clinton, Dad. And Jenna Bush. They both landed some sweet national TV gigs."

"And what exactly was their field of expertise?"

"I dunno. Does it matter? I just watch Jenna Bush 'cause her dad was the prez. And the whole time she's talking, I'm like, 'Girl, you lived in the White House. That is soooo chill.'"

"Please try not to say 'like' during the interview. Ditto for 'chill.' OK?"

"Don't say 'like.' Don't swear. Got it, Dad. Anything else? I'm pretty busy."

"So am I. Apparently I have a presidential campaign to launch. But there is one more thing. Don't expect to be hired right away. Most employers mull things over before making a decision. So let's talk about a follow up strategy. I suggest . . ."

"Tweets."

"Huh?"

"I'm already following the station on Twitter. After the interview I'll start tweeting them with hashtags like #hireme, #imyourgirl and #freakinawesome."

"And you think that's better than calling the station and politely asking the general manager if he or she has made a decision yet?"

"Nobody talks on the phone, Dad. Haven't we had this conversation before?"

"I seem to remember you texting me something about it."

"Dad, this has been a great talk, but I really need to get back to clicking 'like' on the station's Facebook page. I'm sure my competition is doing the same thing right now."

"You're probably right. When's your interview?"

"What interview? I just have to upload a 90-second clip to YouTube explaining why I want the job. Do you think I should include a music track? Dad? Dad, say something."

"I would, but it's not repeatable. Unless you do news in North Dakota."

(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of "Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad," available at http://amzn.to/schwem. Visit Greg on the web at http://www.gregschwem.com.)