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Job Prospects for Teens Reflect Fragile Economy

Students seek creative alternatives to traditional summer and part-time employment.

The week before we were told to “spring ahead” to Daylight Savings Time, the Scarsdale Teen Center was planning for the summer via a job fair.

Lack of response – no foreseeable jobs openings - from the 15 or 20 potential employers needed for the event, however, forced it to be canceled.

Employers Fail to Find Job Vacancies 

“Representatives from local companies and parks and recreation departments were going to attend,” said Teen Center Executive Director Kendra Porter. “We asked if they were looking to hire high school students in after school, part-time, temporary or season jobs, or either internships or volunteer opportunities.”

“It’s interesting in terms of the way the economy is,” Porter continued. “I’ve also gone to college job fairs to see if there are opportunities for high school students to shadow the college students.”

Porter reached out to businesses in the Village and in the Golden Horseshoe Shopping Center, as well as to managers of nonprofit companies, according to Teen Center Program Director Brittney Coleman.

“It’s difficult, even from the volunteer aspect,” Porter said. “What do we have for students who are looking for summer work?”

Employment Difficulties 

“No one wants to hire teenagers,” said Paul Wingate, 17. “I’m glad that I have parents who can take care of me, yet if it was a choice between me or someone who’s 25 with bills, I’d let the other person have the job.”

Porter noted the difficulty for students, as well as for adults with degrees.

“High school students who don’t find work do have other opportunities here,” Porter said. “The high school has a program fair for kids who are looking to travel or go away for the summer, so there are ways to get involved.”

Local Teens' Summer Plans

Last week Scarsdale Patch spoke with several Teen Center board members about their job prospects.

“I’m programming a website this summer,” said Adam Meyer, 16, who opted not to name the specific website. One of his many responsibilities “involves walking around the (New York) city and taking pictures of buildings.”

Roger Pellegrini, 16,  another fortunate teen to find work in a strangling economy, will spend the summer doing melanoma immunology research at a hospital in New York City.

“It’s part of the high school science research program,” Pellegrini explained. “We design an experiment and find a lab to realize it.”

Local Employment Opportunities

Starbucks Coffee Company - which has three stores in Scarsdale - suggested following the link on its website to find local summer jobs since each location hires its own staff. Teens can either fill out an application at a specific location or apply online on the franchise's website.

If working outdoors and locally sounds appealing, the Scarsdale Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department is currently hiring counselors for its day camp and staff for its pool complex.

“These positions are limited, and teenagers should apply as soon as possible,” said Jason Marra, Assistant Superintendent.

If local teens wish to glean a sense of their future vocation, Bronxville School is also implementing a job shadow program for high school seniors starting in May and continuing through the first weeks in June.

“We’re looking to give some out-of-school experiences to seniors before they graduate,” said Principal Terence Barton. “Right now, we’re putting together a list of people in the community who’d let students shadow them.”

Looking Forward

Despite her disappointment with the negligible employer response, Porter is optimistic and said the Teen Center will attempt another job fair next year.

“We’re going to have it more as a shadowing program for one day rather than as a fair for kids to actually find work,” Porter said. “This way, the kids can decide if they really like that kind of work as a job.”

And whether the news is good or bad, word of mouth is the best advertising.

“I believe a story about our efforts will be of some help to us,” Coleman said. “Hopefully, those who read it can reach out with ideas and or available opportunities.”

Kendra Porter March 14, 2011 at 09:42 PM
Correction: The shadow program would be for local high school students to shadow professionals in industries that they are interested in pursuing; not college students. If you are interested in having a student shadow you for the day, please contact Brittney Coleman at the Scarsdale Teen Center (914) 722-8358. Thank you.
Janie Rosman March 15, 2011 at 12:51 PM
Thank you, Kendra.

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