MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Many people don't have the opportunity to work at something they love - they just want a job. Commentator Firoozeh Dumas observed an experience her son had, and she came away with some advice for employers.

Ms. FIROOZEH DUMAS (Commentator): Last summer, my then-16-year-old son applied for a summer internship at a local university. He had found the listing at his high school career center. He put together a resume, wrote a cover letter and sent it all off, anxiously awaiting a response.

In the meantime, he looked up the professor on the Internet. He's so impressive, my son announced - Ph.D. from an Ivy League, winner of many scholarships, author of books and articles. This professor was indeed impressive.

After waiting a month, my son sent an email inquiring about the job. The professor let him know that he would soon be deciding. As summer approached, my son sent another email and was told the decision would soon be made. He never heard back. I was furious. Not because my son did not get the internship, but because this man who had written hundreds of thousands of words did not take the time to write three simple sentences: Thank you for applying. I have selected another candidate. I wish you luck in your job search.

What a lesson in graciousness that would've been. After complaining to several friends, I was told that this is common practice. Apparently, sending rejection letters has gone the way of using the turn signal.

This year, my son applied for a couple of summer jobs. He got neither, nor did he receive any rejection letters - just prolonged silence.

Now, there's nothing wrong with rejection. It's a fact of life. The sooner kids learn that lesson, the better off they are. But can't they be rejected with common decency? Sure, everyone loves to complain about teenagers - they're so rude. But from whom are they supposed to learn manners? We can teach them courtesy at home but if it's not practiced outside, courtesy will be as uncommon as good handwriting.

So if you happen to be hiring this summer, please remember those three sentences: Thank you for applying. I have selected another candidate. I wish you luck in your job search. You can use snail mail, email or, heck, you can even tweet it. But please, go ahead and reject with words, not with silence.

BLOCK: That's commentator Firoozeh Dumas. She wrote the memoir, "Laughing Without An Accent." You can comment on this essay at the opinion section of the new npr.org.

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