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For a teenager, your first job interview can be a scary experience. I know it was for me. Having recently landed a job with a large grocery chain that shall remain nameless, and having gone through three interviews, I can tell you firsthand that being interviewed for a job is no piece of cake. Despite that, however, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and has given me much more confidence not only when I walk into an interview, but how I present myself in life, in general.

First came the phone interview. Interestingly, it was easily the longest of the three, and being my first-ever interview, I was sweating bullets through the whole thing. Although I had some idea of the questions they would be asking me, I was still thrown for a curve on a couple of them, and became more nervous by each one I thought I had bungled. By the end of the interview, however, I had emerged (in my eyes) as victorious, despite some answers that left my mom shaking her head in despair. One down, two to go.

The next interview was the first one conducted at the store, and the first one where I was going to have to break out the ol’ suit and tie. I walked in still anxious and on edge but slightly less nervous than the first interview. I thought I had a good idea of what to expect. When I first sat down with the interviewer, I was expecting a good 30 minutes – and instead, it was only 15. Now, me being my paranoid self, I immediately assumed they must not have liked me, and cut it short when they realized I wasn’t the right fit. Of course, there was no way I could have known what they were thinking, and I would just have to wait for them to call back to see whether or not they liked me. The waiting was agonizing. Since this was my first time doing all of this stuff, there’s not much I can really compare it to – the only thing that springs to mind is waiting in line for a roller coaster. Mercifully, I received a call quickly, and was scheduled for another in-store interview. Two down, one to go.

I woke up the day of the next interview just as nervous as I had been going into the first two. This was the final interview, the last test before they decided whether or not I was worthy to be an employee. I could almost hear “The Final Countdown” playing as I walked into the store. For the first time, my interviewer was a guy. The interview itself was nothing special – it was extremely similar to the previous two. By the end of it, though, I felt I had done something incredible – I had made it through my first interview process, and my hiring or not hiring be darned, I though that was something to be proud of.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. I was hired. I have received my first paycheck. Of course, there was nothing inherently unique about the paycheck. But it was my first ever, and ask anyone – receiving your first paycheck is a really, really nice feeling. For those of you who have been reading this article hoping for tips on nailing your interviews, sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have much to say that you probably haven’t heard before – dress professionally, have a firm handshake, and above all else, be yourself. I can tell you that you’ll walk out of that interview feeling you’ve accomplished something – regardless of whether you get the job.

Zachary Jabine is a sophomore at City Honors.