Few images of the up-and-comer are as classic as the lemonade stand. It’s a symbol of young entrepreneurial spirit, that first little step on what will hopefully be a towering career ladder. Maybe there’s just something pure about the lessons a little lemon juice, water and sugar can teach about profit margins, supply and demand and all sort of other business concepts—for that shining moment, any kid can be his or her own boss.
After that, it gets tricky. And now, it’s trickier than ever, according to this story from The Press of Atlantic City, headlined “Many Teens Shut Out In Summer Job Market As Unemployed Adults and Immigrants Grab Up Jobs.”
Few teens get to be their own bosses when they enter the workplace—they start at the bottom, hoping to get a foot in the door. As most of us remember, it doesn’t have to be in a particular field; we’re talking about a demographic that usually hasn’t decided on a career. But the teenage summer job is a rite of passage, or at least it used to be. Currently, unemployment for teenagers ages 16 to 19 is 27 percent—triple that of the American work force overall. The Press reports that unemployment among young people ages 16 to 24 jumped from 12 percent at the start of the recession in December of 2009 to 19 percent in September of 2009, and remained at that level into this year:
Chris Kazmarck, co-manager of the Surf Mall along the Ocean City Boardwalk, said he has received more than 200 applications this summer, twice what he normally sees, to fill about 25 positions. “They’re coming by the droves and they’re desperate,” said Kazmarck, a Linwood resident. He estimated that half of the applicants were teenagers, while the other half was divided among older unemployed adults and foreign young people who come to the shore seeking summer jobs.
So if you’ve got a teen who needs a job, or you are one yourself, what can you do to land the ones that exist? There are lots of resources online, including job boards specifically for teens; there’s so many, in fact, that’s it’s easiest to check out the “teen” section of a site like jobboardreviews.com that rates the different options.
But as for tips for teens, there are some good ones in gotajob.com’s article “How to Get the Most Popular Teen Jobs.” The first and maybe most important? “Defy stereotypes”:
Many managers almost expect teen job seekers to be less professional-and even less respectful-than older applicants. Show them you’re different. Arrive on time to the interview. Shake hands firmly. A suit’s appropriate for an interview at an office job; for more casual jobs, an ironed shirt and a nice skirt or pants are fine.
Other tips include “Be what the company’s looking for” and “Don’t be scared to talk about money.” It’s pretty adult stuff, especially for young people just entering the workplace, and likely pretty nervous about it. But since it’s clear that teens are now competing with more adult workers than ever for these summer jobs, they may have to grow up fast.