Q: My niece graduated from college a year ago with a degree in art history. She's made the painful discovery that related jobs are few. She's bright and reliable with...

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Q: My niece graduated from college a year ago with a degree in art history. She’s made the painful discovery that related jobs are few. She’s bright and reliable with great people skills but is making do as a sales clerk. So many young people are in her predicament. How can I encourage her?

A: In a culture where microwaving takes too long, many young people feel washed up if they’re not taking their industry by storm at 25.

Your niece’s intelligence, responsibility and people skills will shine brighter the older she becomes.

Remind her that most people still reach their peak professional success after 50. And, also that she’ll be able to use her sales experience in every future job.

Many people write to me who naively believe that just doing a good job is enough. No matter what job your niece takes in the future, she need to sell herself and her ideas.

If you ask people to name the roughest period in their work lives, they’ll often list their 20s.

Almost everyone remembers being underpaid, overworked and far removed from their dream job.

During this time, however, they also have the chance to develop tenacity, creativity and patience as they angle for better employment.

Remind your niece that her education will only go to waste if she gives up on her dreams.

To help your niece stand out from the pack, suggest the following steps:

• Join professional organizations in her field and sign up for industry magazines. She’ll make contacts and learn valuable information.

• Research people and organizations she’d like to work for, call them up and volunteer some time working for free. She’d get real world experience and might even be hired, or her supervisor might recommend her to a colleague.

• Encourage her to keep her eyes open for opportunities outside her field that she might enjoy. Many people delighted with their current jobs landed in them after their careers took a turn they didn’t expect.

The last word(s)

Q: I have to talk to a customer with whom I’m furious. I don’t want my anger to be obvious. Any ideas?

A: E-mail the customer and have someone else edit what you write. E-mail strips out your tone of voice and body language, which would clearly communicate your fury in person or over the phone.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube