Making the Most out of Summer: Job Opportunities


Anchor - Johnette Worak
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

Mom and dad:  it may be easier for your teenager to find a summer job this year.

A new state-by-state analysis of teen unemployment shows, while more companies are hiring for the summer, the number of teens without jobs is still very high.

Illinois has one of the highest teenage unemployment rates in the country at 27-percent.  Kentucky's teen unemployment is at 25-percent.  Tennessee has 24-percent of its 16-19 year olds out of work.
Out of work teens are not making or saving money, nor are they getting the job experience that will help them in the future.

Summer of 2013 will be 18-year old Jordan Mingis' 3rd summer working as a car hop at Sonic.  They hold a spot for her each year, because she's a good worker. She doesn't need training and can hit the ground running.

"You have to pay attention, count money for sure and have a good memory. Once you get it down it's easy and you can start car hopping and making money," Mingis said.

Regional Manager Heather Hatcher says business doubles in the summer, and that's a chance for teens to stash some cash.  Carhops make $7.25 an hour plus tips.

"For a teen or early 20's, especially those going to college, can't get better money," Hatcher said.

And they are hiring carhops, cooks, crew leaders and even assistant managers.

"It's an opportunity for all kids to get a taste of the workforce and what you learn at sonic will prep you for anything in life," Sonic Manager Eric Alexander said.

SIU student Kelsey Lewis is another returning worker.

She says the $8.25 minimum wage in Illinois means more competition for jobs in her state, so she drives to Paducah, Kentucky.

"I just like being busy," Lewis said.  "Time goes faster. It's good pay, good people. I have a lot of friends here."

Expressway owner Drew Walker says he holds Kelsey's spot each summer because she is so eager to work.

"She's a good employee, good with customers, and she makes sure the job is done right," Walker said.

As for those looking to get hired?  walker says show up on time, be enthusiastic, get ready to take a drug test, and look and dress like someone who wants to work.

"The jobs are out there. You've just got to get out there and keep going back," Walker said.

Meanwhile, another place that's hiring: the owner and manager of Lyon County's Venture River, Andrea York, says they've hired 150 workers for the summer, most of them teenagers.  She says they still need certified life guards.

They're holding a training course May 27 - 30.  You do need to know how to swim.  They'll teach you rescue techniques and CPR.