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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 4, 2006

The right summer job can be yours

By Eileen Alt Powell
Associated Press

NEW YORK Millions of high school and college students around the country are engaged in an annual rite of spring the search for a well-paying summer job.

For some, it's a chance to get experience in a field that eventually may become a vocation. For others, it's a way to begin building a resume. And for most, it's an opportunity to earn pocket money or accumulate savings for college.

Career counselors say the strong economy means that there are a lot of work opportunities for teens and college students.

"This year feels better than recent years," said Deborah T. Chereck, director of the Career Center at the University of Oregon in Eugene. "I think the marketplace in the Northwest and nationally in general is seeing improvement."

Still, young people have to use many of the same strategies as adults to land the jobs they want.

For Dana Latson, the first challenge was geographic the 21-year-old Boston College junior wanted to find a summer job near her family home in Texas.

After determining that most of the jobs available through her college's career center were in the Northeast, she checked out the postings on the Web site of Southern Methodist University in her hometown, Dallas. There she found a summer internship program with nonprofit agencies underwritten by the ExxonMobil Foundation.

"I sent about 10 e-mails asking for application deadlines and requirements, applied for six or seven jobs and heard back from four organizations," Latson said.

She's landed a job with one of them, the Dallas Public Library, where she expects to do public relations work, events management and possibly fundraising.

"It will be good because working for a nonprofit is something I'm potentially interested in for the future," she said.

Peter V. Handal, chairman and chief executive of Dale Carnegie Training in Hauppauge, N.Y., said teens and college students should begin their search by networking with people they know.

"Talk to your parents, their friends, people at church or temple, neighbors, teachers," Handal said.

Before the students go for an interview, they should do their homework about the prospective employer, he said.

"Go on to the Internet, Google the company, go to the company's Web site," he said. "Then you can talk with some knowledge about the company."

Most important, he added, is not to get discouraged.

"Don't make one call and get turned off if they say, 'Sorry, we don't have anything right now,' " Handal advised. "If it's a job you really want, be persistent."

Handal said that for many, job experience is more important than earning money. So some try to work for free in hospitals, law offices or accounting firms just to learn about the businesses.

Some young people can get help finding summer jobs through community groups or local government agencies.

The Youth Advocacy Office in Kansas City, Mo., is trying to place some 1,000 workers ages 14 to 25 in summer jobs with local businesses as well as city government departments.