Ways teens can land a summer job

Carol Christen

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bob Moon: This day being the unofficial kick-off to summer -- yay -- a lot of us might be thinking of vacationing and relaxing. But it's just the opposite for many teens. A lot of them are plotting their path to finding a summer job.

TEENS: I put in applications everywhere, more than once. I go to interviews and they still don't call back. Even jobs like In-N-Out, you still need like a 4.0 GPA, something like that. You know, some places are just getting harder and harder. They're looking for people with experience. Most young people don't really have experience.

That was Dalissa Franklin, Juan Delportillo, and Carolina Velasco, here in L.A. To find out what teens can do to get a leg up, we have Carol Christen here. She's author of "What Color is Your Parachute for Teens." Carol, welcome to the program.

CAROL CHRISTEN: Thank you, Bob. It's lovely to be here.

Moon: So what is the job situation for teens this summer?

CHRISTEN: Well, this summer it's a little different than it's been and a little trickier. People have been writing that it's the worst job market since War World II. And this generation of teens is in competition with people their grandparents' age, their parents' age, and their older cousins' and brothers' and sisters' age.

Moon: Have you heard anything about what the reaction to students has been to this tough job market so far?

CHRISTEN: This is a generation that has more millionaires under the age of 25 from being young entrepreneurs than any generation previously. But it's also what we call "everybody gets a blue ribbon" generation. And when you talk with employers the sense of -- I'm wonderful, I can do anything, you ought to be paying me $15 an hour even though I've never worked before comes back to haunt. Because when you're looking for a job, that's the antithesis of everybody gets a blue ribbon, only one person gets the job, so you're really going to have to make yourself stand out.

Moon: And there's always that catch 22 of how do you get experience if you don't have experience yet?

CHRISTEN: That's right, and the one thing that breaks that catch is to volunteer. To go some place where you know you're going to gain the skills and experience that will get you a job that you want to be paid for and you say, OK, would you take me on for four weeks, four hours a day, and let me learn.

Moon: I wonder if one of the upsides to this isn't learning things the hard way, though. Teens have to face the reality of a tough market now sooner than others in this case.

CHRISTEN: I've been in this business since the mid-70s, and I think most people spend more time filing their nails than keeping up their employability. You know, what's the job market like? Where's the demand? How do I look down the road and see what's coming? And I think that this reality is going to be with us for several years. It's going to be a tough job market. So, teens can have an advantage now of saying, hey, I need to prepare myself for the work world. What can I do this summer that will make me more employable next summer?

Moon: What the secret right now, who's hiring at this moment?

CHRISTEN: That varies by region. But there's a little bit of money coming to outdoor programs through the stimulus. Fast food is one of those things, there's a 300 percent turnover, so that's always a good place to look. Things that young people ought to think of if they can't find a job that somebody is going to pay them for, what can they do, what services can they offer, what goods or products can they make?

Moon: Carol Christen is a consultant and author of "What Color is Your Parachute for Teens." Thanks for working with us on this holiday, Carol.

CHRISTEN: Thank you.

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