FORT WAYNE – Having graduated from New Haven High School on Saturday, 17-year-old Robert Nahrwold is finally out of school. He’s also out of work.
He could have lots of company.
Now that local and area high schools have dismissed classes until August, students, whether graduating or not, are fanning out in hopes of finding summer jobs.
According to an article published by Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, 2.8 million teens found formal summer employment last year – an increase of 13 percent from the previous year. He says the number of teens who wanted a summer job but couldn’t find one was 17 percent.
Nahrwold is finding the task difficult. From fast food restaurant chains to grocery stores to the sprawling hardware mega-shops, he’s filled out applications and waited for responses. The first place to return a call gets him, but he’s still waiting. After a few days go by without a response, he’ll take the initiative and call them.
I always call back, he says. I got an interview at McDonald’s, and they said they’d call me back whether I got the job or not, or if they want to do a second interview. I was the one who had to keep calling back, and they said, Oh, we don’t know.’ Then I called them back and they said, We’re not interested anymore.’
The traditional method of finding a summer job – to walk into a place of business and fill out an application – rarely exists, at least for Angie Roberts, hiring manager at Gap, a clothing store in Glenbrook Square.
We’re actually all online, Roberts says. A lot of times we ask a question of are you over 18. And a lot of times coming into the interview, I don’t even know how old the kids are.
With applications, they can post a résumé. It’s not required. They do have to take an online assessment, which gets them into our system, and I can look them up that way. Pretty much if we’re in a hiring mode, that’s where we go.
Oftentimes when I call people in for interviews, it’s like my first time seeing them.
Even though Nahrwold prefers the more conventional method of seeking employment, he’s still on the outside looking in.
Nahrwold does have a couple of exceptions when it comes to work days – although he says he has never told his prospective employers.
I can work any time, he says. I’m in the Army, and I go to my monthly drills, and that’s one weekend every month (he can’t work). And I also can’t work Thursdays because that’s like training at the recruiting station.
He says he will leave Aug. 5 for Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where he will take basic training.
The summer is going to be really boring now because I don’t have anything to really do, he says. Everybody’s getting their job.
I’ll probably hang out with my girlfriend and listen to music, probably apply for more jobs, go to a few concerts, then ship out to basic.
Then there is Lauren Westerman, 17, who will be a senior at Leo High School.
Westerman had a job; it’s just that she chooses not to have another this summer.
Last summer, (a movie theater) is where I was about four out of the seven days a week, she said. It’ll feel good now to relax and spend time with my family.