Getting the job

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wake up at 6 a.m.; gulp coffee as I rush to school in hopes that I don't hear the final bell ring. Sit through lectures, learn new things, go to clubs, practices and finally arrive home around 6 p.m. with my homework desk welcoming me for a three-hour session. This is my typical schedule during the school year. Coffee becomes my best friend and my planner is a lifesaver.

With all of the activities going on during a typical school year, a teenager can find it hard to hold down a job.

Last year, Drexel University's Center for Employment Futures asked a panel of more than 2,000 high school students ages 15 to 17 about their plans regarding work. Studies show that during the school year, 39 percent of students work an average of about 18 hours per week in full- or part-time jobs.

But gone are the days of homework, tests and quizzes. It's summertime. Time to swim. Time to vacation. Time to find a job.

Being a teenager with two jobs during the summer, I am always on the go. There is never a dull moment and the experience is essential for my future careers. And let's be honest, having spending money that I earned myself is always nice. Gone are the days where I have to run to mommy or daddy and beg for money.

And it seems that I am not the only one partaking in this teenage phenomena.

According to DUCEF, during the summer months, employment for teenagers had a sharp increase with 59 percent of teens having full or part-time jobs, compared to the 39 percent during the school year.

Why the increase? Jobs affect a teenager, not only by putting money in their pockets, but giving them direction for their future. A full- or part-time job teaches a teenager responsibility, a good work ethic and is an indispensable experience.

Already having the experience of earning and working hard for their money makes a teenager more acclimated to the real world.

Cape Girardeau lawyer Elizabeth Kayser, 44, started her own doughnut delivery business at age 15 and learned the ropes early.

"My job gave me confidence and the belief in myself at a young age which propelled me forward," Kayser said. "I was prepared for situations that I normally would not expect at that age, thus preparing me for my future."

Having a job is inevitable. Why not start early?

Christina Chastain is a contributing writer for the Southeast Missourian.

Tips to take on your job hunt

* Look for jobs in your area. Take into consideration what hours you will be working, what the pay is and the working conditions.

* Develop a resume or a cover letter. Make sure it looks professional. Also, ask parents, grandparents, friends or teachers if they are in contact with the business that you would like to work for. Give them copies of your resume. According to Randall S. Hansen, who has a doctorate in marketing, this is called networking and can be an aid to help you get the job you desire.

* Present yourself. Pick up an application and make contact with the person involved in choosing employees. After filling out the application fully, turn it in along with your resume and cover letter.

"You have to look good on paper," said 27 year-old Justin Barnes, a general manager for McAlister's Deli in Cape Girardeau. "Try to be different. We get 20 applications a day that all look the same," Barnes said. By presenting a good application and a resume with a cover letter, it will prove to the company that you are willing to go the extra mile for this job.

* Call them. Don't wait for them to call you. By doing so, you are saying, "I want this job and am willing to step forward to get it." With this call, ask for an interview.

* Conduct yourself professionally during the interview. "Try to arrive at least 10 minutes early," said Paul Wilson, 38, vice president of operations for McAlister's Deli.

* Dress nicely and presentably. Look the person who is interviewing you in the eye. Agree with them when they are talking to let them know that you are listening and that you care what they have to say. Be confident.

"When an employee looks comfortable and confident, it shows that they are mature enough for the job." Wilson said.

* Talk with your hands. This shows energy, which employers love. Lastly, this is not the time to be humble. Let them know what all you have to offer, what positives you can contribute to that company.

* The steps after the interview are crucial. Shake their hand. Tell them thank you for their time. When you get home, call or mail them a letter of gratitude to show them that you want this job.

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