February 2012 Special Report on Jobs
In This Issue:
Kaitlyn Schoeffel, who graduated last spring from Egg Harbor Township High School, spent her summer between high school and college worrying about more than transitioning to a new life at Montclair State University in Montclair. She also had economic issues on her mind. “It’s not just people having jobs, it’s people being able to get to their jobs, too,” says Schoeffel, who is 18. Over the summer, “I was hired about 30 minutes from my house on a minimum wage salary as a waitress at the Bashful Banana on the Ocean City boardwalk. The reason I took the job was to earn tips to pay for the cost of gas. Over $3 a gallon is strenuous on anyone.”
Like many teens, Kaitlyn has been struggling with the higher cost of living that comes with a depressed economy. The good news: Kaitlyn found a summer job. The teen job market has been especially hard hit during the economic downturn of the past few years. The country’s teen unemployment rate has been over 20% for three years. “Essentially, it means that somebody in high school has almost completed a full cycle of school without knowing anything other than a job market where it is very difficult to find work. It’s a new paradigm for this generation,” says Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the Employment Policies Institute in Washington, D.C., who is an expert on entry-level employment.
Teen job prospects may be improving, thanks to a new initiative announced by President Barack Obama in January. The White House vowed to tackle youth unemployment head-on through its Summer Jobs+ program, a call to action for businesses, non-profits and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and out-of-work youth in the summer of 2012.
Saltsman urges teens not to procrastinate with their summer job search. “Teens need to be in the mindset to search for their summer employment earlier. There is going to be more competition for these jobs,” he suggests, adding that many applications will be coming through the door and sitting on the hiring manager’s desk. “Making an in-person follow up visit and dressing nicely for your follow up could help set you apart from other people who are just turning in an application and hoping they get a call back.”
Remember these tips as you start your summer-job search:
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Advice 101 column’s “View All” feature and selecting “Jobs+: Get Your Résumé Ready.”
Often, your résumé is the first impression a potential employer will get about you. It is important that it clearly reflects your experience and your skillset. Don’t yet have any job experience? That’s OK! Other activities can build skills that are important for the workplace—like critical thinking in your chess club, leadership as a Girl Scout or Boy Scout, teamwork as a designer on your school’s robotics team and community outreach as a volunteer in your city’s urban garden. Here are some points for polishing your résume´:
You’re hired! That’s great. Now, follow these tips so you don’t end up on the receiving end of Donald Trump’s most famous line on “The Apprentice”:
Read an expanded version of this article by visiting http://www.njnextstop.org, clicking on the Advice 101 column’s “View All” feature and selecting “On-the-Job Survival Guide.”
You’ve searched and searched and you still can’t line up a summer job? Why not consider an internship for little or no pay. The sooner you get experience in the work world, and possibly in the field you hope to pursue for a career, the better off you’ll be transitioning into your life after high school. Last spring Victoria “Torie” Boehme, a then senior at Summit High School in Summit, began researching summer internship possibilities. Torie, now a freshman at Tulane University in New Orleans, is considering a career in journalism and wanted to get some experience in the field before she was swept away by the demands of college life. With some help from Dream Careers, which finds internships for students, Victoria ended up at StyledOn, an online fashion journal located in Soho, New York City.
“I stayed at New York University for four weeks and took the subway into Soho each day,” says Torie, who also interned the previous summer at the Mainline Times in Philadelphia. “At StyledOn I reported to the online editing manager and edited the website everyday. I did some administrative tasks and ran some errands—whatever my boss needed. I got more insight into the fashion world and I realized that I definitely want to do journalism. I’m not positive if it’s in newspapers or online. I was able to develop my real-world skills.”
During that learning process, Torie gleaned some important insight about the value of an internship. She offers fellow teens this advice:
Every little bit counts… “Willingly take and do whatever responsibilities your boss gives you. It will make you into a better person and employee. A lot of high school kids are going into these internships without previous experience and they have to be willing to do anything.”
What an internship is for… “Go into the job with an open mind. You never really know if you’re going to love the job. You’re doing the internship to test the waters and see if this is a field that you want to go into. A bunch of my friends realized that they did not want to go into the field in which they were interning. That’s not a problem; it’s just part of the experience.”
If you’re frustrated, then show what you’re worth… “If your employer is just giving you basic tasks, speak up and say that you feel you are capable of taking on more. Let your voice be heard if you want to be challenged more. That’s how I got a couple articles assigned to me. I let it be known that I was a pretty good English student and had written published articles before in Philadelphia. That opened my boss’s eyes and she started giving me more responsibility.”
Stay the course… “If you aren’t happy with your chosen field, don’t get discouraged. Instead, use the opportunity to develop your skills as an employee. Being in New York was a different atmosphere, and I learned how to be independent.”