Teens have help to land summer jobs

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Summer means hot dogs and baseball, long, lazy days by the swimming pool and lots of sunshine.

But for many teenagers and young adults in Southeast Missouri, summer is also synonymous with long hours working at -- or searching for -- that first part-time job.

For those having a hard time finding work this season, area employment resources are available.

Career Services at Southeast Missouri State University works with the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to find employment for college students. Staff member Jerry Westbrook said businesses send his department information about job openings, and the department posts them on its Web site. Students can contact the employers listed online or go to the Career Services office to discuss potential jobs in more detail.

Westbrook said first time job-seekers also can get guidance from counselors at the office.

"We suggest that it would be wise to talk to a career adviser here to talk a little about what companies are looking for, and that is people that are good communicators, have a strong work ethic, are dependable, and have analytical skills, problem-solving skills and interpersonal relations skills," Westbrook said.

Advisers can place students in a variety of jobs, but they usually suggest that students try to find positions within their major or career interest. Employment can vary from for-credit internships to basic jobs in retail stores or fast-food restaurants.

"We usually think of jobs at a place like McDonald's as just standing and flipping burgers, but there are positions within those organizations that have very specific management and marketing areas that are very beneficial to some students," Westbrook said.

Any type of summer work that students can find will help them with their long-term career plans, Westbrook said.

"Employers are becoming more and more interested in the workplace experience that students have, sometimes even more so than experience in other areas that used to be valued very high," Westbrook said.

Scott Sattler, a supervisor with the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, said his office has a career specialist on the Southeast campus who helps place students in jobs.

"This community is very pro-college, so there are a lot of options for students to consider while they're still in school," he said.

However, Sattler said high school age job-seekers are harder for Workforce Development to place because of the relatively small number of employers that will hire them. He said most employers that use his department also are not looking for many temporary workers.

The Cape Girardeau Public Library offers teenagers some advice on its Web site to help them crack the job market. The site includes tips for acing the job interview and finding both volunteer and paid work.

Youth Services coordinator Sharon Anderson said the information on the library's Web site came from a program done two years ago for high school students. During the session, she said, teenagers took mock interviews in which they were rewarded with candy for good answers and shot with silly string for bad answers. Anderson said she thinks this helped some students realize the importance of presentation.

"First impressions are often the only impression you get a chance to make when you're in an interview," Anderson said.

Readers can find the library's job tips page at www.capelibrary.org under Programs and Info. Students also can browse postings for internships and part-time jobs at www4.semo.edu/careerservices/jobsearch.asp.


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