- Your News
By MARIAN GALBRAITH
While summer employment opportunities are said to be improving in recent years, the stiff competition for teenagers is leading some to new extremes in the job pursuit.
Hourly workers are challenged to find ways to stand out, while other teens pursue yard work, odd jobs, or even starting their own business.
A new survey from Snagajob.com, an online employment network for hourly job seekers and employers, seasonal hiring is said to be “trending in the right direction,” with levels similar to last year and improvements over the recession.
“What’s more,” the report read, “teens will largely compete against themselves for jobs, with fewer experienced workers looking for summer employment.”
Paige Dement, a Tullahoma High School graduate and now a rising college junior at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., said she had to be aggressive and persistent before finally “snagging” a waitress job at the River Café, a southern-style restaurant and live music venue near her home in Normandy.
“I really wanted the job, because it’s close to my house, plus I really like the music and the bands that play there and I heard the tips were good.
“So I just kept going over there and calling Ms. Nikki, my boss, until she hired me,” Paige said.
“If she wasn’t there, I would leave some information about myself and come back later.”
She said the restaurant is only open Saturday and Sunday, with a long shift on Saturday, from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
With several hundred dollars in tips and wages in just the first few weekends, however, she said it’s all been well worth the effort.
“I’m also learning a lot, like, I think waitresses should get more respect, because now I see what hard work it is,” she said.
“It’s not just serving the food and getting the orders right, but also busing and cleaning the tables, and running back and forth to make sure they have everything they want, when they want it.”
Not satisfied with the typical choices in retail, food service, and assembly work, rising THS senior Eric Nelius decided try his hand at independent contracting by starting his own asphalt-sealing business.
“I helped my dad seal our driveway last summer over Memorial Day weekend,” Eric said.
“The spray-on sealers didn’t work for him because the asphalt would start cracking again within in a year or so.
“So he decided to use a hand-brushed sealer, and I learned how to do it by helping him.”
Eric said he first cleans the surface of the driveway as needed, then uses a high-grade filler for the cracks and holes before spreading on the sealer.
Helping him with the labor are his sister, Sarah Beth, now home for summer from her first year of college, and their younger brother, Andrew, a rising eighth-grader at West Middle School.
“When our neighbor across the street saw it, he asked who did it because he said it looked really good,” Eric said.
“When I said we did it ourselves, he hired us.”
With his knowledge of the tools, materials and labor involved, as well as a little help from his dad, Andy, Eric said he started bidding new jobs at roughly 17 cents per square foot to friends, neighbors, and contacts of the family.
“Since then, we’ve done about 10 or 11 driveways, and we always make sure the customer is happy before we’re finished.”
Eric said he first measures the square footage of the driveway then buys the materials, then pays his sister and brother by the hour.
“I try to make sure we all make at least $10 or $11 per hour, but it’s not always easy,” he said.
“My brother used too much material at one point, and it had to come out of his pay, but now he knows how to be more efficient with it.”
A recurring winner of statewide math contests, Eric says the geometry and calculus involved in measuring the driveway is the easy part for him.
“The hardest part is getting the business, finding people who need the service,” he said.
So far, he has relied on distributing flyers and word of mouth for his advertising, but said he may start going door to door.
For more information, he can be reached at 931-455-2371.