Teens struggling to find summer work in down economy

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) Seventeen-year-old Tim Tetens would like very much to find a job for this summer, but he hasn't had any luck so far.

Tetens said he has checked out several discount stores and other retailers near his Oak Grove, Minn., home.

They all say they're not hiring at this time,'' he said. Or they want full-time employees.''

Now he's looking at construction companies in hopes of landing a job with a roofer. But he doesn't have that pinned down yet.

My friends are having similar problems,'' he said. There are a lot of kids trying to find jobs right now, but there's just not much out there.''

Teenagers like Tetens who often earn their own pocket money or are saving for a car or for college are having a particularly hard time getting summer jobs this year because of the nation's weak economy.

With the unemployment rate at 5.8 percent and many companies still cutting jobs, teenagers often end up competing with adults for what limited job openings there are.

Edwin Bodensiek, a senior manager with Junior Achievement Inc., an organization that helps educate young people about business and economics, said teens are eager to work.

According to the group's annual survey, 80 percent of teenagers want paying jobs this summer, with younger teens focusing on baby-sitting and other neighborhood service jobs and older teens aiming for work at restaurants or in retail stores.

Their goals, according to the Junior Achievement Survey, are to earn spending money, save for college, pay for a car, help out their families or just gain work experience.

But a lot of them apparently aren't getting the opportunity,'' Bodensiek said. Just 45 percent said they found a paying job last summer. That's way off from the number who wanted jobs and the market is worse this year.''

John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc., a Chicago-based outplacement company, acknowledges that teens and adults are trying to get the same jobs.

That means there's more competition,'' Challenger said. That doesn't mean a teenager can't find work, but it's not going to be so easy.''

He suggests parents try to help by asking local merchants or friends if they know of job openings.

Your child is still going to have to go in and talk with someone to get hired,'' Challenger said.

Challenger said young teens should look for job opportunities close to home working at the local pool or the beach, mowing lawns or painting houses, baby-sitting, bagging groceries.

A determined kid might be able to start a service get a bunch of jobs together and even hand some of them off to friends,'' he suggested.

Older teens may have to approach a job search similar to the way adults do, and that means networking, Challenger said.

They should be talking to their parents, parents of their friends and going out to see them at their businesses,'' he said. It's the way you manage a career today, a skill you have to develop.''

Challenger added that if money isn't an issue, teenagers can make a good investment in their futures by signing on to internships or doing volunteer work.

That's what Jim Jones of Northlake, Ill., is going to do.

Jones, 16, will be a paid intern this summer in computer maintenance and repair at West Leyden High School, where he is a junior.

I'm doing better than a lot of my friends,'' Jones said. Some have applied to more than 20 places and haven't found a job.''

On the Net:

www.ja.org

www.challengergray.com



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