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Crossroads teens search for perfect summer job

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
May 12, 2012 at 12:12 a.m.
Updated May 13, 2012 at 12:13 a.m.


For More INFO

To register online with the Texas Workforce Commission, visit www.workintexas.com.

For additional information, contact Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent at www.gcworkforce.org or 361-578-0341.

Tips for Teens in search of summer work:

• Start looking right away. Many students began the job hunt during spring break. Waiting until school ends means you'll have fewer options.

• Let people know you're looking for work. That includes friends, family, acquaintances and more. You never know who might know of a good lead.

• Know about the companies you apply to. Are they open on weekends? What would you do there? What is the working environment like? Such questions help you determine whether the job might be a good fit.

• Brag about yourself. Even if you don't have actual work experience, include strengths and achievements on your resume. That can include soft skills, such as typing abilities, as well as academic awards and more.

• Have references ready. Know names and contact information of people who can vouch for your work experience or serve as character references. Ask your references for permission first, so they aren't caught by surprise when potential employers call.

• Meet hiring managers face-to-face. You aren't guaranteed a job simply by applying online or dropping off forms. If you can get some face time, take advantage of it.

• Make a good first impression. Dress appropriately when interviewing and dropping off applications. Make sure your voicemail message is professional, in case the employer were to call. Remember many companies evaluate job candidates' social media accounts during the application process.

Sources: Carole Kolle, director of Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. news release

Derek White stays on the go these days, heading to classes, studying for finals and making final preparations for graduating from Victoria West High School.

While he is busy now, it's just a matter of weeks before he finds himself poolside, soaking up rays of sun and raking in cash.

The 18-year-old begins lifeguarding the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool at the end of the month.

"I'll do it for money, but get a tan, too," he said with a smile. "I think it'll be good."

White isn't alone in his employment endeavor.

As temperatures rise and school nears its end, many high school and college students begin scrambling for summer employment.

Last year, 1,087,000 16- through 19-year-olds nationwide took on summer jobs, according to a news release from the Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. The firm estimated 2012's numbers to be even higher.

"The teen job market definitely rebounded in 2011, with more than one million teens finding new jobs," John A. Challenger, the firm's CEO, said in the release. "However, job gains among teens were still well below the levels achieved prior to the recession. While teen employment is likely to see further improvement this summer, job gains will probably once again fall short of pre-recession figures."

Prospects seem strong throughout the Crossroads, said Carole Kolle, director of Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent. Listings are posted at the center, she said, and "help wanted" signs are visible up and down Navarro Street, in restaurants, retail stores and more.

"It's a very promising summer for teens," she said, explaining jobs such as ground and pool maintenance, and even construction work, are available. "We haven't seen this in the last few summers."

Kolle urged teens who haven't already found work to begin actively looking as soon as possible by registering with the center, applying online or picking up applications.

"Now's the time to set a plan, to set a goal and get busy with it," she said.

Victoria College student Chelsie Lambert began her search for a job in retail a few weeks ago, mainly through online job hunts. She now plans to visit stores and pick up applications within the coming days.

"I need the money," the 18-year-old Edna resident said with a smile.

While students like Lambert are busy searching, others appear to be taking summer in stride.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., in its news release, said fewer teens nationwide seem to be seeking seasonal work than before the recession. In 2011, the number of 16- to 19-year-olds without work was 11,048,000, according to the release, and 90 percent of those teens indicated they didn't want jobs.

That low turnout is a problem Latif Arikan said he's encountered during his summer hiring season.

Arikan owns Moon Star, a kiosk that sells remote-controlled helicopters and other electronic toys inside the Victoria Mall. Two weeks after posting his "now hiring" sign, he said he hadn't gotten a response.

"People need the money, but don't want to work," he said, noting no one had requested an application or even asked what the job paid. "I think they are being lazy."

The business owner said the shop's kiosk location might also play a role, noting teens might prefer work with a larger company.

"But I'm here," he said. "I'm still waiting."

As for White, he said he looks forward to his work at the pool and the journey that follows. He was recently accepted to Texas State University in San Marcos, and begins classes during the fall semester.

"I'm ready," he said. "I'm excited."

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