By Jianxin Shi
This is a teen-written article from our friends at Represent Magazine, a platform for and by young people in foster care. Represent is published by Youth Communication, a nonprofit organization that helps marginalized youth develop their full potential through reading and writing. Some names have been changed in this young author's story.
It was a hot summer during high school, and I needed a job. The employment sections of the Chinese community newspapers mostly advertised jobs at restaurants and nail salons, which required several years of experience that I didn’t have. When I saw an advertisement that said no experience was necessary, I dialed the number.
“Hello!” said a woman in Mandarin. She had a cold voice.
“Hi, are you hiring?” I asked.
“Yes, we do offer jobs.”
“What would I be doing?”
“That depends on your ability.”
She gave me the company’s address in Chinatown in Manhattan, and told me to come the following week for an interview. I thanked her and put the phone down, feeling relieved. She didn’t sound very encouraging, but I thought this was the way professional people spoke.
When I arrived at the company’s office, I filled out a form and then met Landy, who was supposed to interview me. She looked about 20, but her serious manner made her seem older.
$3,000 a Month
Landy brought me into a small classroom where loud pop music was playing, and told me a presentation about the company would begin soon. Shortly afterward, another woman walked in and introduced herself as Tracy. “The reason that I am working in this company, Heartwealth, is because of the powerful product that this company has,” she said. She told us that she used to suffer from severe acne, and as she said this, a projector displayed an image of her face covered in pimples. “I tried so many cosmetic products, but none of them worked. Some even exacerbated my condition,” she said. “But after three months of using Heartwealth, my face was much better.”
There were people of all ages in the room, about a dozen in total. As the presentation went on, Tracy shared other people’s testimonies about Heartwealth. Their products, which were supposed to give you different health benefits, seemed impressive. But the part that excited me most came next: “We will help anyone who takes a job here to make up to $2,500-$3,000 per month,” Tracy said. She explained, however, that we would work on commission. That means instead of being paid an hourly wage or monthly salary, we earned a percentage of what we were able to sell.
After talking about examples of high-earning employees, she ended the presentation with more noisy music. I still didn’t know what this company expected of me, but I figured I’d probably be persuading people to buy Heartwealth powders and pills. They looked like health products I’d seen in the supermarket, so I doubted whether anyone would be willing to spend a lot of money on them.
But I was also completely entranced by the notion of earning more than my dad. I started imagining things I could buy, like a new computer, and planning how I’d continue working part-time after school started in the fall.
I also got excited about the idea of developing my speaking skills. I don’t think people take me very seriously when I talk. I don’t know how to make people passionate about what I’m telling them. But I imagined that by doing this job, I could learn to be mature and eloquent like Tracy and Landy and get more respect.