Lagging economy means fewer jobs for teens
Sonoma Valley High School senior Savannah U’Ren is one teen who found employment at the Sebastiani Theatre, where she sells concessions.
The advent of summer, long since characterized by afternoons at the beach and eating ice cream in the Plaza, has seen a shift as an increasingly large number of high school students attempt to find employment, with varying degrees of success. As some students hold down multiple jobs, others send out applications only to be met time and time again with rejection.
Savannah U’Ren, an incoming senior, currently holds down a job at Sebastiani Theatre, where she prepares the theatre and lobby for filmgoers and works the concessions stand. “Honestly, I really like working there, and I always thought it would be a cool job. Plus money is always good,” she laughs.
Other students enjoy jobs at local businesses such as Ben and Jerry’s, Tiddle E. Winks, Little Caesars, Montessori Preschool, SwimAmerica, Broadway Market, Mary’s Pizza Shack and the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.
And yet jobs like these are becoming more difficult to obtain. A struggling economy obviously means fewer oppurtunities, and the jobs that are available often go to those with more experience or education – such as recent college graduates who struggle to find a job with their degree, and thus end up employed as servers, retail workers or manual laborers – jobs that formerly were available to a younger set.
Kendall Slade, who recently graduated from Justin-Siena High School, currently works at Papa Murphy’s but is seeking a second job due to decreased hours. Slade will be attending Sacramento State in the fall, and like many college students, is concerned about being able to help pay for her education. She said, “A lot of people hire early for summer jobs, like in May, so it’s harder to find a job the later it gets.”
Other students are working as interns for a variety of organizations in the hopes of gaining experience to make them more desirable to future employers. Griffin Hill, who will be a senior at SVHS in the fall, is spending four weeks as an unpaid intern for the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary at its Santa Cruz site. He explains, “I’m interested in marine science, so it’s a further pursuit of a current interest to see if it’s something I want to continue studying.”
Hill will be assisting with the opening of a new visitor center and he believes that “public education is a big part of conservation, so it really caught my interest.”
Another factor to consider in finding a job is California child labor laws. The minimum age that a student can obtain a work permit is 12, however, regular jobs with consistent hours are rare for this age-set. By age 14, students with work permits can obtain a limited number of jobs, such as clerical work, grocery bagging, errand and delivery occupations, and cleanup work, among other jobs. Once a student turns 16, work regulations are still stern, but he or she is allowed to work 48 hours a week in businesses such as gas stations, offices, messenger services and, in some cases, manufacturing operations. Work permits can usually be obtained at high schools, and more information regarding permit restrictions and labor laws is available at www.dir.ca.gov/DLSE/ChildLabor. As of June 2012, minimum wage, which is what a minor should generally expect to earn, is $8 an hour.
I leave you with this advice: Make, and proceed to use your connections. Both U’Ren and Hill got their positions via established contacts. Start searching as soon as possible, and make sure potential employers have your résumé on file. Even if they don’t have a position available at the moment, you stand a better chance of being hired at a later date if you’ve already established your interest.
And while every job has its advantages as well as pitfalls, avoid jobs that make you miserable – they just aren’t worth the money. For those students struggling to find employment, don’t give up. Continue your search, but enjoy the still-free time you have. Because for better or for worse, your time as an adolescent is short. Make the most of it.