Summer may seem like a long way away, but hundreds of Spokane teenagers already have plans.
Despite nonstop snowfall, they came in droves Saturday to the annual Summer Jobs Fair at Riverfront Park’s Pavilion.
“It’s kind of ironic that we’re looking for summer jobs and it’s still snowing outside,” said Jarrod Lowe, 17, who’s looking for a job outside in downtown Spokane.
More than 300 attended the fair - a low turnout compared to the usual 500-plus crowd, said Kimbre Vega, personnel and training manager for Riverfront Park.
The teens came to apply for about 220 seasonal jobs in park maintenance, food service or ride operations. Most of the jobs, which last from April to September, pay about $4.90 to $5.50 per hour, she said.
“Money is always nice,” said 17-year-old Joe Barnes, who wore a black-and-silver tie just for the occasion.
Like Barnes, many of the applicants Saturday had no previous work experience. While some wanted specific jobs as gondola operators or cashiers, others weren’t as picky.
“We’re looking for anything we can get our hands on,” said Bill Gilman, 16. “We figured we’re pretty outgoing so we might as well try.”
Gilman and Barnes along with fellow classmates at Rogers High School tried looking for jobs last summer but nobody wanted them, they said. They applied for at least 20 positions each and inquired at stores all the way down Division Street. They were left jobless for the entire summer.
“Everyone wants someone with experience,” said Ken Boyce, 16. “But how can we get experience if we can’t get a job?”
Vega, who hires new employees every summer, said those who get jobs at Riverfront Park usually learn skills that range from gardening and basic carpentry to public relations and problem-solving. About 40 percent of the summer employees come back the following year.
“They have a lot of fun because it’s a chance for them to work with tourists,” Vega said. “They also meet new friends and get to work outside.”
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