Business Feature: Study: Teen job market tight

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Tyler Marney washes a truck Saturday at Washpointe Auto. Marney has worked at Washpointe for almost a year.

By Helena Rodriguez: CNJ staff writer

A majority of teens want to work this summer to earn money and gain work experience, yet many businesses have become reluctant to hire teens under 18 years old, according to a news release.

While some national department store outlets have age-minimum policies, Mark Anderson, store manager of JCPenney in the North Plains Mall, said he hires teens as young as 16.

“If a person comes in for an interview, it doesn’t matter whether they are 16 or 60, they need to be prepared to give a good interview,” said Anderson, who has three employees who are under 18. While he does not hire extra help specifically for the summer, Anderson said many of his teen employees are able to work extra hours during the summer as they become available and as other employees take vacation.

Jesse Walthers, 17, is one of several teens who work as a lifeguards at Potter Park pool. With a special lifeguard and first-aid certification, he has been able to patrol the waters every summer since he was 15.

“During the school year, I don’t work because I’m busy with sports,” Walthers said. “I like working here because I’m able to make money. I try to save some of my money, but I also spend some of it, too.”

Rob Carter, the director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Clovis, said in the past the city has had problems trying to find enough certified lifeguards to fill the summer positions. To solve the problem, he said training was offered earlier in the year.

Samantha Foshee, 18, took advantage of the early training.

She hopes the additional training will not only guarantee her a summer while she’s home from college, but also as a lifeguard during the school year at Oklahoma Christian University.

“I like being outside by the water, and I like to stay busy,” Foshee said. “This job will also help me to save money so when I do go back to college in the fall, I can get some stuff that I need.

“Last year, I didn’t work during the school year because I was in sports, but this year, I want to see if I can work at the swimming pool on campus and then come back here and work next summer.”

While many teenagers are able to find jobs at fast-food chains, Tyler Marney, 18, works at another somewhat seasonal job, a car wash. Although he has been employed year-round at Grease Monkey & Washpointe Auto Wash on North Prince, he said summer is a peak time for the car wash business and this allows him to work more hours.

“During the summer time, I work four days a week, closer to full-time. During the school year, I only worked about 24 hours a week,” said Marney. He will graduate from Clovis High School in May. “I usually use my tip money for lunch. Since I’ll be making extra money this summer, I’m going to put some money in savings.”

The job is also an educational experience for Marney.

“I’ve learned about how to take better care of a vehicle,” he said. “I didn’t realize how important maintenance is, keeping the oil and fluids full.”