Marc Petersen, an Eastchester high school student, will begin his summer job as soon as school’s out. Petersen is lucky. He found a job at Weinberg Nature Center in Scarsdale through his older brother who worked there last summer. According to the Westchester County Youth Bureau, come summertime, some 30,000 teens and young adults (between the ages of 16 and 21) will be looking for employment. These teens will face a much tougher job market than in years past: employers have more applicants to choose from and may be less likely to hire those with no previous job experience or references. But there is hope for teens bent on finding the right job — and for the parents who want to help them find it. Before teens can apply for jobs, they need to have working papers. New York State law requires teens to carry working papers until they turn 18. Ivana Tarsia, a Youth Employment Officer for Eastchester High School, explains that teens can obtain working papers through their high school or school board office. To apply, teens need to fill out parental consent and medical clearance forms. These working papers vary according to the teen’s age. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds receive one type of working card, while 16- and 17-year-olds have another. "It’s difficult for 14- and 15-year-olds to find jobs," says Tarsia. "Most of the jobs available to them are for babysitting. It’s much easier to place 16- and 17-year-olds." High school guidance offices offer limited job resources; more complete job help is available through county youth bureaus. While parents may suggest their teens scour local businesses for "Help Wanted" signs, there is an easier way for teens to find jobs. As Marlene E. Furtick, head of the Westchester County Youth Bureau explains, there are youth bureaus located throughout the area designed to help teens with every aspect of their job hunt, from filling out applications, to interview tactics, to job listings and recommendations. Says Furtick, "Their number one priority is youth employment all year long." Furtick notes the advantages for teens finding jobs through youth bureau offices, including ongoing pre-job readiness workshops. "We go over the basics," she says. These basics include proofreading a job application for errors (which youth bureau officers will do), to subtleties such as having a firm handshake, looking your interviewer in the eye, arriving on time for an interview, and dressing appropriately. The county works year-long to secure jobs and internships for teen summer employment. Job fairs are offered in March for teens to meet prospective employers, such as Doral Arrowwood, White Plains Hospital Center, the American Red Cross and Stew Leonard’s. Even if a teen is unable to attend, many of the same jobs are listed through the youth bureau offices. Youth bureaus can ease the transition into the workforce with employers who are teen-friendly. Peter Tartaglia is director of marketing for Rye Playland, one of the county’s largest employers of teens. "Between the park and our concessionaires, we hire 600 to 800 young adults," he says. "Once we hire the employees, they go through a training program. They learn about rules and regulations, issues like customer service and safety. And we also tell them about our incentive programs." Since Playland hires so many teens, employers there are more apt to mentor employees, helping them to have a positive work experience. Other employers working with the youth bureaus have similar philosophies on hiring teens. "The summer job experience is invaluable to youngsters," says Richard Biondi, vice president of White Plains Hospital Center. "Besides getting some money in their pockets, we are preparing them to take our places in life. It’s an investment that’s worth it."
RESOURCES • Contact the main Westchester County Youth Bureau office at (914) 995-2745 or visit www.westchestergov.com/wplwis and scroll down the left side of the screen to "Youth Summer Application Form”. • Find a job application for Rye Playland at www.ryeplayland.org/job or call (914) 813-7010. • Contact Westchester One-Stop Employment, 143 Grand Street, White Plains (914) 995-3910. • Visit a Westchester County park and speak with the manager to receive job applications. • At the New York State Labor website, find more information on youth careers at www.labor.ny.us/working_ny/finding_a_job/finding_job.html.
Legal Considerations Under New York State Labor laws, young adults ages 14 to 15 can work 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week during the summer. Hours go down to 3 hours a day and 18 hours a week for the school year. These teens can’t work any later than 7pm during the school year, and no later than 9pm between June 1 and Labor Day. For 16- and 17-year-olds, there is no limit on work hours; however these teens cannot work in jobs that the Labor Department deems hazardous. Hazards may include working with pesticides or other harmful chemicals and operating heavy machinery.
OPTIONS FOR 14- AND 15 YEAR-OLDS While babysitting remains a viable job option for younger teens, other summer work may be harder to find, as many businesses don’t hire employees under age 16. Marlene E. Furtick, head of the Westchester County Youth Bureau, shares some other possibilities:
Become a volunteer Although teens won’t be paid for their efforts, they will come away from volunteer jobs with valuable experience and connections. Many teens who become volunteers at a business one summer are hired as employees the next. "I know of one young lady who started volunteering at an animal shelter," says Furtick. "She worked hard and impressed her employers. After three weeks, they decided to hire her."
Parents as "employers" In conjunction with the Youth Bureau, parents can arrange for teens to work for a business and then pay the salary for their teen who might otherwise not be hired. "We have parents who say, ‘I will pay for my child to be a junior counselor for a day camp,’" Furtick says. "The child is too old for camp and too young for a job. This is a wonderful avenue for both parents and teens, and many times the teens are hired when they are older."
Captions for photos: “teens jobs 1” photo: Westchester teens can take advantage of the expertise of county youth bureaus, where staffers will help kids with job searches and applications.
“teens jobs 2”: County youth bureaus focus on teens, and network with area businesses that are teen-friendly. They are probably the best places to start if you’re a teen looking for a summer job.