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Jobs help students show responsibility, build foundations for future careers

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 2, 2008
— Summer vacation is the perfect time for older students to earn extra money—maybe for that iPod you’ve had your eye on or a laptop for college.

But first you’ve got to land a job, which means you’ve got to introduce yourself to strangers and ask about job openings.


“How do you do that without being scared to death?” said Rock County Job Center career counselor Amber Culver.


Relax, Culver said. You’re more qualified than you think.


Some things you do at school and home are the same things employers want you to do at work. And the people you talk to every day probably have an idea of a job that would fit you.


That job doesn’t just have to kill time and provide a paycheck all summer, Culver said. If you do a little planning, you can find a job that’s fun for you and could be the foundation for your career.


The first thing to do is write a resume. Even if this is your first job, you have more skills than you realize, Culver said.


If you have regular chores around the house, run for a student government office or give a speech in class, you’re building responsibility and confidence—two things employers are looking for in a new employee, she said.


“Anything you do, you’re building those skills,” Culver said.


If you’re too young to work or are not ready for a job, try some volunteer work, Culver said. Working on your own time at church or helping with Meals on Wheels teaches you job skills, which will be valuable when you’re ready to find a job for pay.


“It gives (students) something to write on their resume,” Culver said. “It says, ‘I’m really responsible.’”


Think about those activities and download a sample resume from www.wisconsinjobcenter.org. Click on the “job seeker” link, then click on “look for jobs” and “youth employment.”

When you’ve got your skills written in black and white, the next step is to find out where to take them.


Start by talking to your parents, their friends and people at the places you go regularly: church or the YMCA. Your friends, teachers and coaches know you well and probably have suggestions for jobs that would suit you, Culver said.


“(Students) know a lot of people,” Culver said. “They just might not think of them along those lines.”


While you’re asking for ideas, make sure to ask a few people if they’re willing to be references, Culver said. You’ll need that information for the next step—filling out job applications.


The Rock County Job Center, 1900 Center Ave., Janesville, has a handy pamphlet you can fill out at home and bring along when you make the rounds to fill out applications. Or you can make your own by including the addresses of the places you’ve worked or gone to school.


Make sure to include the dates you were there.


Also, write down the names and addresses of three people who are willing to act as personal references.


While you’re filling out the application, don’t be afraid to ask the receptionist questions, Culver said. When you turn in the application, ask if you may include your resume, Culver said.


If you’re nervous, fake that you’re not, Culver said.


“Be an actor,” Culver said. “You’re putting your best foot forward, and they want people with their best feet.”


EMPLOYER POINTERS

A note to employers on hiring teens:


The state of Wisconsin has strict guidelines for hiring minors. Teens of different ages are allowed to perform different jobs.


The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has guidelines available at www.dwd.state.wi.us or by calling (608) 266-6860.

While it’s imperative to follow the rules when hiring teens, Rock County Job Center career counselor Amber Culver said there are other things to keep in mind:


-- Have specific expectations for young people. They might not know what they can wear or what they should be doing at work, Culver said.


-- Ignore the perception that teens are not good employees, what with their piercings and green hair.


-- Teens want to learn on their first job, and if you’re specific, it helps.


“It’s not so different from going into a classroom and learning algebra,” Culver said.


Culver said some employers like the chance to teach teens.


“Remember, these are the people who are going to be the economic support for the United States.”


EMPLOYMENT EXPO

Teens and adults who want to practice talking to employers … your opportunity is the second annual Rock County Employment Expo.


The event is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, at the Eclipse Center, formerly the Beloit Mall. Planners expect nearly 100 employers, colleges and technical colleges to attend.


Dress as if you’re going to an interview and bring your resume, said Rochell Cheplak, business services representative for the Rock County Job Center.


Last year, planners expected 50 employers at the expo and ended up with 61, Cheplak said. More than 2,500 prospective employees visited the fair, she said.


The event is sponsored by the Rock County Job Center, UW-Rock County and various local employers.


For more information, visit www.RockCountyEmploymentExpo.Com or call Cheplak at (608) 741-3525.

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