Getting a Jump on Summer-Job Searches
Regarding your column on summer jobs, I'd like to add that teens should start looking several months ahead of time. College students especially need to be looking for next summer's job by Christmas. Internships and education-related openings, which look good on your resume, are usually filled by March. Even young teens would benefit from looking early instead of waiting till the last day of school, only to find out that most of the good jobs are already filled.
You're absolutely right. Unfortunately, that requires advance planning -- something that's tough enough for college students and often impossible for younger kids, who inundate me with e-mails like the following: "I'm 12 years old, and I am so bored. I need something to do, and I also need money. Just e-mail me if you have an idea."
At the very least, kids in this position need guidance from their parents. When my teenage nephew got a phone call from his baseball coach telling him about a summer job as a camp counselor, he told the coach he'd think about it. His mother had other ideas: "Call him back right now and tell him you'll take it."
In a poll conducted by TheMint.org, a financial-literacy Web site for kids, nine out of ten young people said they would rather earn money than lounge around over the summer. But many of them, like another one of my young correspondents, think that no one is willing to hire them:
"You said that as 14-year-olds we should be able to work in grocery stores, amusement parks, etc. Well, I've called around to several places in my area and they said I had to be 16. If only they could see how badly teens like myself needed jobs, then maybe they would understand. I want to be an independent teen and make myself useful."
I'd like to float a proposal that middle- and high-school counseling departments act as informal job banks. Employers in search of summer workers could give information to the schools, which could pass it along to interested kids.
I know schools have a lot on their plates, but it would also be nice if civics classes could give students a lesson or two in job-hunting techniques. Young teens may think they have no marketable skills. But if they're on the honor roll, play on a sports team or have experience babysitting, they have the makings of a budding resume.
Plus, they need to be coached to shake hands and "always look eye" (Mr. Miyagi's sage advice from the movie The Karate Kid). And never, ever show up for a job interview in flip-flops and a T-shirt.