Make us your home page

Summer work scarce

As a teen in the 1990s, I spent an hour or two applying for after-school jobs and had an offer in a week. Marquetta Cooper wishes it were that easy. "I've been trying to find a job for a long time now," said the 18-year-old from Coon Rapids, Minn. She has been looking for a retail position for more than a year, hoping that she finds something by summer so she can pay for school supplies this fall.

Unfortunately for Cooper and many teens like her, the employment outlook for 16- to 19-year-olds is terrible and has been since the economic downturn hit.

Last year, teens experienced the worst job market since 1949, with an unemployment rate of 25 percent nationwide. Because of overall high unemployment, inexperienced teens found themselves jockeying with recent college grads and unemployed adults for entry-level gigs frying burgers and folding clothes.

Summer 2011 is shaping up to be more of the same. "These statistics are really much more grim than they've ever been," said Oriane Casale, of Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development. "Many youth are just not going to find a full-time or even a steady part-time job this summer."

The data show teens will have better luck with seasonal employers such as landscaping companies and amusement parks, or in the growing health care sector than they will in retail, manufacturing and construction.

Yes, it's looking bleak out there. But that doesn't mean you can't earn money this summer. Start your job search now.

Network with your friends and family, suggests Mark Griffin, a high school business teacher. Research the business you're hoping to work for. When you shake someone's hand, look that person in the eye. Also, dress for success. "That doesn't mean you show up for a job at Subway in a three-piece suit, but dress appropriately. Leave the holey jeans at home," he said.

If your pavement-pounding doesn't pan out, create your own summer job mowing lawns, babysitting or organizing garage sales. There are plenty of resources out there to help you, from the young entrepreneur's page at

See if you qualify for a youth job program, typically reserved for teens with special needs or who come from low-income families. But it's tough to get into these programs, too.

If the money isn't a must-have, spend time developing your job search skills. Use job training centers, taking classes to practice interviewing and to build a solid resume.

Finally, consider spending the summer volunteering or working an unpaid internship. Both look great on college applications. Long term, a college degree will improve your employment prospects and increase your earnings potential. "More and more, education is what matters in the labor force," Casale said.

Spending time applying for college scholarships found on sites such as and can ease the financial setback of working for free.

Summer work scarce 04/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.