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Summer Jobs: How Teens Find Work in Albuquerque

By Rosalie Rayburn
Journal Staff Writer
    The official start of summer remains a full month away— plenty of time to find that spectacular summer job. For 2007. Getting a position takes planning, employers say. Whether it's making sandwiches at Dion's Pizza, selling ride tickets at Cliff's Amusement Park or shadowing engineers at Sandia National Laboratories, employers advise teens to start their search early.
    In fact, it's not too soon to begin thinking about next summer, especially for teens who would prefer a job or internship with potential career connections, such as with one of the national labs.
    For those simply seeking a little extra money, "help wanted" signs can be found around the city at a variety of businesses, but competition may be stiff as June approaches.
    For late starters who want a job this summer, enthusiasm and appropriate attire are essential. "You are not dressing to be cool among friends," said Kate Rivera, manager of staffing at Sandia National Laboratories.
    Even seasonal jobs can provide valuable life lessons that students can use in a career, said Suzette Fielder, assistant manager at Cliff's Amusement Park in Albuquerque. "Our philosophy is to teach them the responsibility of a job so they can be responsible when they go into the real world," Fielder said.
    Cliff's hires 130 to 150 teens age 14 and older each summer for jobs including ticket sellers, greeters, ride operators and game attendants. Cliff's continues to hire throughout the summer. Pay ranges from $5.15 to $6 per hour.
    Recent Cliff's hire Michael Barker will spend this summer hawking chances to win prizes at Cliff's long-range basketball game.
    Barker, 19, has done open-microphone stints as a standup comedian and dreams of being a professional musician. His backup plan is a career in communications. He says the Cliff's job is "a chance to be social while I'm at work."
    Valley High School junior Marcus Armijo started working at Cliff's last summer at age 15 after obtaining a work permit because of his age. State and federal laws limit young teens' working hours and job duties. Teens can usually get work permits through their school counselor, Fielder said.
    Locally owned restaurant chain Dion's Pizza, which also takes younger teens, hires about 25 summer-only employees, but they must apply early— usually not later than March. "We are always looking for good young people," said Cathy Farrell, Dion's human resources director.
    Jobs include washing dishes, making sandwiches and salads, and busing tables. Dion's prefers employees to master these skills before they are promoted to making pizzas, Farrell said.
    Travis Powell, 17, recently began making sandwiches at Dion's near Cottonwood Mall. Powell is a member of the ROTC at Cibola High School and wants to become a fighter pilot. "It's fun, it's clean and my friends are working here," Powell said of his Dion's job.
    Some teens have by now secured coveted internship positions that could open doors to careers.
    Companies that offer internships regard the teens they hire as potential future employees. They look for résumés that show evidence of leadership and good grades.
    Highland High School junior Zach Chavez will work with engineers and scientists at Sandia National Laboratories this summer.
    Chavez is one of 12 central New Mexico high school students picked for Sandia's Star Program. It's an eight-week internship for high-performing, highly motivated students who are interested in a career in science or math, said program manager Norbert Tencza.
    At 17, Chavez is aware that he will soon be out in the real world having to earn a living. His previous work experience was busing tables at the Chama River Brewing Company. Chavez has his sights on the University of Notre Dame, where he hopes to major in aerospace engineering. The Sandia internship could influence his ultimate choice.
    "It's going to point me in a direction," Chavez said. "I could love it and want to do that for the rest of my life."
    Although some of Sandia's positions become available during the summer, candidates for most spots are selected the previous fall, said Roberta Rivera, Sandia's project lead for student internship programs..
    For this summer, Sandia has hired about 80 high school students as interns in technical, accounting, clerical, cleaning and general labor areas.
    Sandia looks for teens who show enthusiasm, can present themselves in a professional way and have an idea about the type of career they want.
    "We look at them as a potential pipeline for employees," Rivera said.
    For youngsters who haven't yet landed a job, the Dial-a-Teen service in Albuquerque can be reached at 222-4628. It helps teens prepare résumés, learn interview techniques or do online job searches.
    "We help nearly 1,000 teens find jobs each summer," said Dial-a-Teen supervisor Vena Gordon.
   
Looking at 2007
    Although some companies continue to hire summer help in June and July, most have already picked interns or hired seasonal help. But it's not too early to start thinking about next year. Here are some tips on how to get a jump on the competition.
    START EARLY: Many companies begin studying résumés and application forms or even hiring in the fall or winter, especially companies seeking interns.
    USE YOUR CONTACTS: Companies where your parents, relatives or family friends work may have part-time employment, full-time jobs or summer internships.
    DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Companies want employees who are prepared to work for them. Learn as much about the company as you can. Visit the workplace if possible.
    DRESS TO IMPRESS: A neat appearance and appropriate attire is a must for your interview. Show enthusiasm.
    MAKE SURE YOU CAN GET TO WORK: Commit to a start date and have your transportation arranged.
    THINK LONG-TERM: Companies who take on interns are looking for high grades and interest in a career.
   
On the Web
    If you are interested in a temporary summer job, you might take a spin on the World Wide Web.
   
  • CoolWorks.com, or www.coolworks.com:
        Search for a seasonal job with a variety of employers, including National Parks and cruise ships.
       
  • www.seasonalemployment.com/summer.html:
        Provides summer jobs listings, with additional employment information by location or company.
       
  • Appalachian Mountain Club, or www.outdoors.org/ employment/:
        Check out part-time, seasonal or long-term job opportunities, with an emphasis on the U.S. Northeast.
       
  • StudentJobs.gov, or www.studentjobs.gov:
        Select "Search Jobs" to explore Federal government opportunities available to students.
       
  • SummerJobs.com, or www.summerjobs.com:
        Check out summer job listings by searching by keyword or location.
       
    -- Knight Ridder
       
    Résumé writing
        Employers say they look for items that indicate a teen is eager to work, can handle responsibility and manage time efficiently. So getting that across in a résumé, often an employer's first impression, is key. Here are some basics:
       
  • List any previous paid work, even mowing lawns or babysitting.
       
  • List any volunteer work at school or church. This can reveal leadership skills.
       
  • Mention activities you're involved in, such as athletics, clubs or student council. This shows time management skills.
       
  • Mention hobbies if they show leadership or teamwork skills.
       
  • Presentation is important. Avoid colored papers and fancy fonts. Companies frequently scan résumés. White paper and simple fonts produce the best quality.