Teens at Work: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Teens at Work: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

A tight job market hasn’t kept area high school students out of summer work. From caddie to hostess, emergency rescue work to lifeguard, local teens are gainfully employed this summer, some of them with more than one job.

“It’s a tighter job market all around,” said Michelle Colin of Talent Tree Staffing in Rockville, but the demand for summer employment is “pretty much the same… We find that most of the bigger companies have [summer] interns, and that takes away from our being able to fill those positions.”

SOME STUDENTS LANDED their summer jobs by completing applications, but many already had one foot in the door and familiarity with their current employers.

“I think there are lots of high school-aged youth seeking jobs,” said Laura Sildon, director of Montgomery County Youth Works. "Sometimes it’s having that link, that network. A lot of it depends on where you go to school.”

Julia DeMarines, a recent Whitman graduate, works as a lifeguard, swimming coach and diving coach at Mohican Swim Club.

“I’ve been a member since I was born, and part of the swim team for a long time,” said DeMarines. “By the time I was 15, I needed to make some money … I was an assistant coach for two years in a row, and this is my first year as a head coach.”

Mark Roberts, a recent Whitman graduate, made a similar type of move from customer to employee of the Market on the Boulevard in Bethesda.

“I live up the street from the market and I go to it constantly,” said Roberts, of Cabin John. “I asked for an application, and fortunately I got the job.”

Dan Levy, who just finished his junior year at Churchill, got his job at Starbucks in the Cabin John Shopping Center last summer without the benefit of a network.

“I just walked in here,” said Levy on how he got his job. “I thought this would be one of the better places in Cabin John.”

Levy worked through the school year, but has logged more weekly hours since the summer started.

“I’D REALLY TRY to encourage people to seek traditional summer employment like lifeguarding or landscaping,” said Sildon.

Many students have chosen the route of such a “classic” type of summer job. One of them is Daniel Schapiro, a recent Churchill graduate, who juggles a job behind the counter at White Mountain Creamery in Rockville with another job as a caddie at the Woodmont Country Club.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Schapiro of his second year at White Mountain Creamery. “I don’t get paid too well, but I get to meet and work with a lot of great people.”

Lifeguarding and coaching the diving team were natural choices for Metro high school diving champion Amanda Blong, of Potomac, who works both jobs at Seven Locks Swim Club.

“I LIKE WHEN you get these new kids who want to dive,” said Blong. “They truly love to do it… They listen and they’re trying to get better.”

Blong’s coworker at Seven Locks, Alex Pfiffer of Potomac, began her fourth summer as a lifeguard after graduating from St. Andrew’s, a Delaware boarding school.

“It’s very nice, since you get to be outside… and I like playing with the little kids,” said Pfiffer. “Nothing that exciting happens here, but that’s good because nobody gets hurt.”

Carol Cullather, who graduated from Wootton this year, went as far as Garrett County for her summer job as a pizzeria hostess in a resort community. In a complex with ice cream, mini-golf and go-karts, Cullather is in a summer vacation environment, and enjoys the change of pace from her prior retail job.

“At a retail job, a lot of the time it gets really slow, and it got really boring; you’d look at the same things all the time,” said Cullather. “The people here are so nice. It’s really laid-back.”

WORKING FOR A LIVING can have its downside, and most students can cite some turbulent times with their jobs.

“I was in the fairway waiting for a guy to tee off,” said Schapiro of his caddying job. “The guy yelled fore, and the ball hit me right in the leg. I laughed it off, but it hurt… I got a nice shiner from it.”

Amidst a sea of happy and laid-back vacationers, Cullather has had to deal with the occasional ornery phone order at the pizzeria or decline a drunk customer’s request for her phone number.

Levy enjoys working with some of his friends at Starbucks, but said that his job gets tough “when you have to make a million Frappuccinos.”

Blong and DeMarines are both accustomed to normal responsibilities as lifeguards, but they have found themselves shouldered with unusual responsibilities from time to time.

“A woman screamed at me one time for letting her kid get sunburned,” said Blong.

For others, just looking for a job has been a trial.

CHURCHILL GRADUATE Nikki Naderi needed to wait until her brother finished school before a car was at her disposal. Since then, she has found the job hunt difficult.

“Some restaurants are hiring, but a lot are full, or they don’t want to hire for just the summer,” said Naderi. “At one place we [were asked] to sign a contract to work a whole year.”

Naderi said she might volunteer at a day camp where she worked last summer before starting her freshman year at the University of Maryland in September.

SOME STUDENTS FORSAKE a paying summer job in hopes of experience with a longer-term payoff.

Kate Hechinger, a recent Sidwell Friends graduate from Bethesda, joined the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad in February, and is now in a five-week EMT training course.

“I was in a science class with someone who was doing it,” said Hechinger. “It caught my attention, and it really sounded interesting.”

“The best thing is that you get to think rationally and calmly in a stressful environment … and how to deal with someone who’s really anxious,” said Hechinger, who is bound for Duke University this fall and hopes to join a similar organization in Durham or on-campus.

Already working two jobs, Schapiro recently started a part-time job with the promotions department at WASH 97.1 FM. Schapiro said he was interested in getting a look at work with a radio station, and although the soft rock format may not be his musical genre of preference, he enjoys going to movie premieres and concerts the station sponsors.