14 March 2011
No Summer Job for Your Teen? Think Outside the Fast Food Box

Summer jobs and teens: traditional as summer vacation. Seasonal jobs traditionally include positions as camp counselor and National Parks’ employee, McDonald’s and Starbucks, Costco and Home Depot. They’re entry-level positions, may pay minimum wage or just above, and often aren’t meant to last beyond Labor Day.  And this year, they’re scarce.

Competition in the Workplace

This year, teens looking for summer jobs may find themselves up against interesting competition: mom and dad. Or grandparents. There’s an unprecedented four generations in the workforce, from Baby Boomers to Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials, all competing for the same jobs.

“When the Millennial Generation first started entering the job force around ages 16 or 18, the economy was doing really well,” says Dina Cipollaro-Beck of Fundamental Training Solutions. “The Millennials saw the job market as a place to find choice.”  Now that the average age for a Millennial is 19, there’s been a significant shift in the economy. National unemployment stood at 8.8 percent in March, and Nevada unemployment at 13.2 percent in April. The unemployment rate for people under 25 exceeds 15 percent.

Then add in underemployed Generation X and returning Baby Boomer employees taking entry-level jobs and positions in traditional summer job venues like Costco, Home Depot and even fast food, and the summer job search is going to be competitive.

Where are the Jobs?

Teenagers are working, during the school year and throughout the summer. It’s not impossible for teens to find jobs – it just means digging a little deeper.  JOIN – Job Opportunities in Nevada – works with Northern Nevada teens ages 16 to 21 who are looking for work, including a program for youth who have graduated or left school.  Monthly workshops teach the basics: interview skills, resume building, work-appropriate dress and Internet job searches.  In Southern Nevada, Nevada Workforce Connections offers youth programs. Online searches can produce a variety of employment skills classes in both Northern and Southern Nevada at community colleges and listed through local chambers of commerce.

Job searching has changed.  With jobs a lot more competitive, teens need to be a lot more persistent and thorough. The days of walking into a business and filling out an application are gone. Most employers use online applications, in part because there are hundreds of applicants for every position.

Thinking Outside the Fast Food Box

An unpaid summer internship or volunteer position can pay teens back in abundance as they move toward college or the professional, post-education job market. Cipollaro-Beck, formerly the Lake Tahoe Community College internship coordinator, tells students if they can pull it off financially, an unpaid internship can be the key to success that opens the door to connections and experience.

Teens need to do their market research, identify the careers they’re interested in and start calling the professionals and businesses they’re interested in before summer ever arrives.  Ask if it’s possible to job-shadow a professional one day a week, or interview the professional – people who love their jobs love to talk about them.

The Glenn Group, a Nevada advertising agency with offices in both Northern and Southern Nevada, usually has interns onboard. “They’re unpaid internships, and we really work them,” says Valerie Glenn, president/CEO.  Glenn prefers college juniors and seniors with some experience so the student and the agency both benefit, and says students find the internship positions through their university or college program.  The Glenn Group sometimes provides job shadowing opportunities for high school students trying to decide what to study. Job shadowing allows students to get a sense of environment and decide if it’s a direction they want to take.

No internships? Volunteer. Clean up the beauty salon once a week, help out at the animal shelter or local veterinarian office. Even if a volunteer position doesn’t lead to paying employment, it shows initiative, often offers leadership experience and gives teens skills and references to list on a resume. Many colleges expect to see volunteer experience on a college application.

Parents Can Help

While the jobs are out there, parents whose teens are struggling to find work need some patience and understanding. The dearth of summer jobs isn’t an excuse not to look, but parents need to note the number of places their teen is applying, the number of rejections and the content of those rejections, whether it’s because there are no jobs or there’s too much competition for the positions available.

Parents can also help out by sitting down and talking with their teens about work ethic, interviewing skills, resume preparation, appropriate dress and other work-related topics, and suggesting their teens take advantage of employment organizations that can help.

Resources

It’s About Jobs, powered by NevadaWorks, provides resume search for employers and resume posting for potential employees: www.itsaboutjobs.com

Cool Works lists information about summer jobs in great places: www.coolworks.com

Nevada Career Information System: http://nvcis.intocareers.org/

Nevada Workforce Connectionswww.nvworkforceconnections.org

JOIN – Job Opportunities in Nevada:  www.join.org

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