High school students who are searching for a summer job face stiff competition this year, according to a recent study by Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based employment firm.
"Young job seekers will not only compete with other teenagers, but in certain types of jobs like retail and food service, they may compete with recent college graduates or older workers who need to supplement retirement income," points out John A. Challenger, the company's CEO. Last year, fewer than 50 percent of young adults had found summer employment by July, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics-the lowest level since 1949.
Even with job prospects looking dim, there are other ways for teens to hone their skills and get ahead before school starts in the fall. SuperFutures CEO Jennifer Openshaw offers a few tips for teenagers who want to make the most of summer.
- Look for internships. Don't worry about whether they pay enough-or at all. "Stop focusing on money and focus on a great experience and opportunity to hone your skills," says Openshaw. "Show up prepared and professional. No flip flops!"
- Conduct informational interviews. Talk to people about their careers and about their college experiences. "It will help you discover what you want to do." Openshaw says. Ask them what they like best about their careers, what college courses they wish they had taken, what skills they think are most valuable.
- Build a network. "You need to talk to people, right? Make a list of who you know who can get you to who you don't know," Openshaw suggests. Don't forget your friends; they might not have embarked on their careers yet, but chances are their parents have. Whose mom or dad can you chat with? Whose uncle might have a connection that could help you?
- Participate in programs. Superfuture's "Dare2Dream" program lets you share your dream in a video, giving you a chance to hone your ideas and view videos by people who might have the same goals.
- Take a class or two at local college. Not only will you save money and rack up some college credits, you'll have a chance to figure out what you really want to do before you head off to your dream school.
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