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Teens flocking to jobs in quest of summer funds

By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein, Gold Country News Service
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Ah, summer. For some teenagers it means lazy days spent at the pool, hanging out at the mall and, of course, sleeping in. But for millions of them, it means something else - a paycheck. With area schools out for the summer, teens are hitting retailers, supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses en masse, looking for work. Nationally more than 86 percent of teens 15-and-older are anticipating punching time clocks this summer, according to a recent Junior Achievement Interprise Poll. Although that number doesn't necessarily translate into actual work - last year, just over half of the poll's respondents actually held summer jobs - it may point to a rosy employment outlook. A string of recent retail and restaurant openings - industries known for hiring teens - means plenty of "help wanted" signs for young people looking to make some extra dough this summer. Nick Palma, a 16-year-old Del Oro High School student, is working this summer but not in a traditional business establishment. Palma does odd jobs for neighbors, friends and the elderly in the Loomis area. He has helped homeowners weed, mow their lawns and he has even painted an outdoor shed. "I like this better than a regular job," Palma said. "You can't take vacations in a regular job. I'm my own boss and I make the money I need." But for those teens who are seeking their first job outside the neighborhood, Dave Montgomery, business and employment specialist at the Employment Development Department of Roseville's OneStop Career Center, said there are a few tips for first-time job hunters. The trick, according to Montgomery, is to communicate how one's existing skills and personal attributes can benefit employers. Montgomery advises workers to consider entry-level positions not as dead-end jobs but a prime training ground for future careers. What some might unflattering term, "flipping burgers" for the summer doesn't have to be drudgery, if you have the right attitude. "If someone has a desire to be a cook, a good way to start is to get trained at McDonald's or In-N-Out Burger," Montgomery said. Teens4Hire.org, a teen-centered employment Web site, urges job hunters to be prepared for on-the-spot interviews, even if they're just picking up an application. Eye contact, firm handshakes and a confident attitude are all rated high by the site. Del Oro students Ben Emard and Allison Billings are two Loomis 17-year-olds who are working for the summer and staying cool at the same time. They both are employed at the Del Oro High School pool. Emard is a lifeguard, teaches swim lessons and also coaches the younger children on the Loomis Dolphins swim team. "I'm here five to six hours a day," Emard said. "I'm also a member of the Del Oro waterpolo team. I basically live here at the pool. Plus, most of my friends are working too." Emard said he enjoys working at the pool because he has a good time with his students and he likes to swim. Of course, making money at something you enjoy is an added bonus. The soon-to-be senior plans to save the money he earns for college and other long-term goals. .Billings teaches swimming to children ages 6 to 11. She usually has about four children in each of her classes. Her best advice to her students during class time is to "keep their hands on the wall." In order to be a swim instructor, Billings said she was required to have training in CPR, including infant CPR and first aid. "I love working with the kids," she said. "And in the summer, the pool is the best place to be." Susan Belknap contributed to this article.