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Attention teens: In search of a summer job?

Experts are predicting this will be the worst summer in 40 years for teens who are looking for summer jobs. The high unemployment rate is making it difficult for recent college graduates to find work in their career fields and thus there are fewer summer jobs for teens. On NBC’s “Today” show, Jeff Allen, founder of SummerJobs.com, was invited to appear to discuss the summer job market and offer advice for teens who are looking for jobs. Here are his tips:

Summer is just about here. Are there still a lot of jobs out there for kids who were focusing on finals and not their summer job search?

Yes. It’s always great to look early, but there are many employers who procrastinate just as kids do. But for next year, I would tell kids to apply early especially if they are looking for internships or highly competitive jobs. A lot of employers are trying to finalize their plans, but right now jobs that are currently available are lifeguarding positions, restaurants, retail and even some camps (especially day camps).

Children 13 and under can’t technically work due to child labor laws, (except for things like delivering newspapers and baby-sitting) and those between the ages of 14-18 may need to apply for a work permit. What types of permits do kids need to obtain before they can start their jobs?

When you turn 14 and are looking for a position it may be necessary for kids to apply for a work permit, but it depends on the job they are looking to do. It’s very easy to apply for the permit. All you have to do is fill out a little paperwork. And depending on the state, kids can work longer hours during their summer break. For instance, in Massachusetts, kids can work until 9 p.m. during the summer. For those under 16, they cannot cook and work around a fire, work on a ladder, carry heavy materials and other things like that. But there are plenty of jobs out there for 14-18-year-olds.

What type of job should someone who is 14-16 be looking for?

Offices, grocery stores, movie theaters, baseball parks and amusement parks(cashier, ticket taker, graphic artist at a park, take photos at an amusement park, bus tables, etc.) are all good places to look for young teens.

In this age group kids can also start their own businesses like dog-walking, lawn-mowing or house-sitting.

What about someone who is 17-22 years old?

Once you are over 18 you can do just about anything if you have the training and wherewithal. Eighteen and over is no longer restricted by law. Juniors or seniors in high school and college students can be lifeguards or counselors on teen tours; they can work in a national or state park; they can work at a sleep-away camp; and they can get internships. 

What advice do you have for a teenager who wants to apply for a job online, but is afraid of posting their personal information?

I would say kids should create a resume which does not include personal information. Kids can put their name on the resume but they shouldn’t put their addresses or phone number on it. Instead they can create an e-mail address in the place of their home address and they can correspond with a potential employee that way. I would also say kids should talk to their parents about their job search and let their parents see the e-mails they receive from prospective employers.

What about the teenager who can’t find a job in their area? Should they look for a job volunteering?

If a teen has the time and money to volunteer they can work for a day camp for underprivileged children, or in a soup kitchen, or for City Harvest and deliver food to the needy. There are options available.

What about internships? They are such a great way for kids to find out about specific career fields that they may be interested in. Do companies offer summer internships to high school kids or just to college students?

Internships routinely go to kids who are in college because employers are often looking to groom them for future jobs after they graduate. Because of that employers don’t like to hire a teen in high school because they are too many years away from potential employment. However, that being said, I would recommend teens not rely on the Internet and books listing internships, but rather network within their teachers, family and friends. That is a better way for a teen to find a job interning. We do have a few internships for kids under 18: human resources and a graphic artist, but those jobs are few. Most employers are looking for someone they can keep long term and who would be able to get college credit.

Jeff Allen is the founder of SummerJobs.com. To learn more you can visit his Web site at: www.summerjobs.com/

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