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some text Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I am a college freshman. I have decided I want to get a job so I can support myself and pay half the rent in the apartment my mom resides in.

I have always been shy because I don't really know how to talk to people. Every interview I go on, I never get a callback. How do I get connected at school and manage a job? How can I have more confidence in myself for job interviews? — CLUELESS IN ILLINOIS

DEAR CLUELESS: People convey confidence by looking others in the eye when they talk to them and being conscious of good posture. When you apply for your next job — one you think you would be suited for — write down and memorize five reasons why the company would be lucky to have you. Recite them for the interviewer, and this, too, will convey confidence.

If you are not hired, rather than blame yourself, accept that there's a lot of competition out there, so don't beat yourself up if you don't receive an offer from every company you apply to. Ask interviewers who don't hire you what you can do better. Practice makes perfect. Each interview should get easier.

As to getting connected at school, join special interest groups that you have time for between your study and work schedule. Your time may be limited, but these groups offer an opportunity to meet new people with whom you have a common interest.

DEAR ABBY: One of the things I taught my children was to write thank-you notes or, at least, verbally thank someone for a gift or nicety. My 30-year-old son calls to thank us when we send him gifts and when we provide meals or lodging when they stay with us. His soon-to-be fiancee, however, has never once uttered or written the word "thank you" for anything we have done for her. Perhaps she was raised by wolves.

I like the girl, but this really irritates me. How can I get the idea across to her without causing a rift? Should I talk to my son about it? I'm about at the point where I will no longer send her any gifts. Maybe I should send her your booklet about how to write letters. — UNTHANKED IN FLORIDA

DEAR UNTHANKED: Your son's fiancee-to-be may not have been raised by wolves as much as brought up by parents who were possibly ignorant of the social graces. Because this bothers you to the degree it does, discuss your feelings with your son rather than confront her. And please, rethink your idea of sending her my Letters booklet because, under the circumstances, it would be mean-spirited and likely not well-received.

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law is obsessed with dieting and working out. She and her husband often talk about other people's looks (whether they need to lose weight or not).

I had a baby four months ago and have about 15 pounds to lose before I'll be back to my pre-pregnancy weight. She has told me several times now that I need to work out. I don't know what to say because her comments are hurtful. We are fairly close, so I'd prefer to confront her myself instead of asking my husband to do it. What should I say the next time she says this? — BABY WEIGHT IN THE SOUTH

DEAR BABY WEIGHT: Tell her (sweetly) that you know she means well, but that you would prefer not to discuss it at this time. It's the truth.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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