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Students get schooled in job hunt

Fri., June 4, 2004

Carrie Smick thought she’d have a job by now. Since returning to Spokane from school in Boston about a month ago, she’s applied at Luna, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, Denny’s, the Rockwood Bakery, Red Robin, the Mustard Seed, Gordy’s and the Gap, but has only had one group interview with the clothing store American Eagle.

“No one seems to be hiring,” said Smick, 19. “And the places that are hiring are undesirable jobs, like line cooks and dishwashers. It’s discouraging.”

After the excitement of graduation and the end of another school year has died down, many students turn their attention to summer and realize, suddenly, “I need money.” This year, they – like Smick – likely will find many others filling out the same applications, waiting for the same interviews. The good news is, there are still jobs.

Lewis and Clark High School junior Whitney Boyd said her concern is having money for clothes and for being able to do things, like go out to the movies. She wants a retail job and has gotten applications for work at the Gap and Nordstrom.

“I just have to turn them in,” she said.

LC junior Leslie Griffith is still debating whether she wants a summer job.

“I’ve looked into it, but I play tennis and with out-of-town tournaments, my schedule is not flexible,” she said, adding that she has applied at Baskin Robbins and the Spokane Racquet Club. “I’d like to get more real-world experience, and I need something to hold me accountable besides school.”

With only about a 2½-month window for work, many students turn to seasonal jobs.

Spokane’s Parks and Recreation Department starts accepting applications for summer positions for park recreation leaders in January, and does interviews in April. As in recent years, they had more than 100 applications for 16 positions at $7.75 an hour this year. For positions in Riverfront Park, more than 200 people applied for about 100 positions, which start just after spring break.

Though those positions are long since filled, recreation supervisor Karen Holmes said parks and rec still needs about 80 lifeguards. Lifeguards make $7.50 an hour, but must have lifeguard and CPR certifications.

“It’s hard now for us and for small businesses to keep ahead of the minimum wage jump,” she said. The current minimum wage in Washington is $7.16 an hour.

Park caretakers, who usually start at minimum wage, also are needed, she said.

Nancy DiGiammarco, marketing, sales and public relations director for Silverwood amusement park in Idaho, said the park has a record 1,900 applications on file and has hired 500 seasonal employees. Silverwood officials are still accepting applications.

By the park’s prime season, when Silverwood’s Boulder Beach water park opens June 12, Silverwood expects to have more than 1,000 employees. DiGiammarco said park officials are still looking for people to work in food service and retail and as lifeguards. Because the park hires kids as young as 14, Silverwood is the employer for many first-time workers.

Not everyone waits until school is out to start shopping for jobs; some are very motivated to make sure they’ll have paychecks.

LC freshman Casey Neal has been a volunteer for the last two years at the East Central Community Center, but is now getting paid for his work as a recreation aide. This summer, he’ll also be mowing his grandparents’ lawn.

“I have to make up a class in summer school and I have to pay for that, and it would be nice to have a little spending money,” he said. “I need to start saving for Christmas and stuff.”


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