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Students seek jobs, too

Posted: May 10, 2009 10:05 p.m.
Updated: May 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
High-school students who are job-hunting this summer are finding the hunt isn't an easy one. One Valencia High School student who has been out looking said he's applied to "a million places" for a summer job.

While that was an exaggeration, Peter Stenquist wasn't embellishing when he expressed his disappointment over the matter.

"No one's hiring," he said. "It's getting frustrating."
Stenquist, 18, has submitted applications to retail and supply stores, chain food restaurants and many places displaying "Now Hiring" signs.

With rising unemployment numbers and a contracting job market comes the challenge for local college and high school students to find summer income for summer activities, or to help their families financially.

"I applied at See's Candies and there were a bunch of older people applying," said Trent Stephens, 18, of Valencia High School.

Despite having the disadvantage of less experience compared to older applicants, Stephens said he tries to present himself the best way he can and hopes he gets an interview.

Six Flags Magic Mountain President Jay Thomas said the park received many applications from second-wage earners during the park's job fair in February and March.

Magic Mountain is one of the valley's top employers and is known for offering many positions to local youth.

Thomas said the park's priority is to hire the most qualified people to fit the proper positions.

"Six Flags Magic Mountain's guests expect first-class service when they visit and our high employment standards ensure they have a fun day at Six Flags," Thomas said. "Six Flags Magic Mountain welcomes applicants of all ages and backgrounds."

A sales associate at Celebrity Beauty Supply said a range of age groups has shown interest in an open position the store is advertising with a sign out front.

"There's some people applying that are on their second careers or they got laid off," said an employee who declined to be named. "One woman in her 50s kept calling and coming in. She was definitely desperate for a job."

Not only are older adults and second-wage earners competing for summer jobs, college graduates are also adding to the mix.

The city of Santa Clarita's Aquatic Center saw a change in the demographics of the 92 people that applied in January and February for 37 open summer positions.

"Usually we're dealing with in-high-school or out-of-high-school (applicants)," said Doug Botton, aquatics administrator. "It was different to interview people with degrees. A lot of what they said is definitely the job market is tough out there.

"Folks right out of college are looking to jump into their career, but because career-level jobs are less available, many looked to lifeguarding as a responsible and well-paying alternative," he said.

While the center usually hires 40 to 60 new applicants, many past lifeguards were returning for their positions, Botton said.

"A lot of lifeguards have committed to coming back, so they're probably apprehensive about moving on so quick because of the job market," he said. "(It's) nice for us, it puts experience on our towers and (we're) not training as many rookies. That's definitely a luxury for safety purposes."

The city of Santa Clarita's summer camp program, Camp Clarita, received double its usual amount of applicants this year, according to Recreation Supervisor Lisa Nikkila.

"We received 600 this year just for Camp Clarita," she said. "We typically offer around 90 positions."

Even with jobs at SCV Book Exchange and Coco's Restaurant, 18-year-old Krista Neubert said she is hesitant to refer her friends to employers, fearing that if she does, her hours at the camp will be cut short.

"Everyone's pretty much worried because they need money to go out and do stuff (this summer)," she said. "Everyone I tell that I have a job - they ask me to ‘hook it up,' but I say ‘No, I need the hours.'"

Kelly Nicolas, a Golden Valley High School student, has a job, but her boyfriend has been looking for a job since Christmas.

"He's applied pretty much all the places that have ‘Help Wanted' signs," said Nicolas, who works at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. "He applied at the movie theaters, but there were a lot of people applying for that job."

Owner Adrian Panoussi has tried to hire high-school-aged help over the last few months, but after becoming disappointed with their work habits, she continues to display a "Now Hiring" sign out front of her Le Paris Bakery & Café. Panoussi said younger students need to take the job more seriously.

"They don't want to work, they show up and want to go to Disneyland or bring friends here," she said. "They're just young and they have to learn."


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