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Dave Olson, Published May 11 2012

Summer job outlook looks good for teen, college students

The summer employment picture for high school and college students is looking sunny.

“It’s kind of a busy, thriving time. It’s good for both applicants and employers,” said Carey Fry, office manager at Job Service North Dakota in Fargo.

Fry said there are hundreds of job openings in the region in areas such as retail sales and food service and preparation, job categories young people generally gravitate toward.

For all employment categories, there are more than 6,000 job openings in a six-county region in southeast North Dakota that includes Cass, Richland, Traill, Sargent, Ransom and Steele.

The numbers represent a 44 percent increase in job openings compared to last year, said Fry, who added that if a young worker is looking for a job, there’s a good chance they’ll find one.

First steps

She said a good first step for anyone seeking work is to visit the Job Service website at www.jobsnd.com.

Job hunters can find lists of available openings, and if they see something they like, they can follow instructions for applying online.

Resumes may also be left online with Job Service.

Fry said there are about 550 openings for sales jobs in southeast North Dakota and Job Service has about 315 active resumes on file in that category.

Hornbacher’s food stores, with six locations in the Fargo-Moorhead area, has many openings listed with Job Service.

Matt Leiseth, Hornbacher’s president, said when young people take a job with the company, it usually means the start of a long-term relationship.

“They spend a couple months with us, and they really like it and realize we have flexible schedules that can work around their college schedules and their personal life.

“Then,” he added, “we get to keep them for two or three years while they’re in college.”

Leiseth said the return of summer means the return of familiar faces.

“In the spring, college freshmen and sophomores usually go home. They leave and the college kids who were away from town are coming back.

“A lot of our old employees, who worked for us in high school, will come back and work for us,” Leiseth said. “We always have that turnover between seasons, just as summer starts and just as summer ends.”

Apply, apply, apply

Fry said many employers want prospective workers to apply online, and she said people should apply for several jobs.

She said she gives the same advice to her daughter, who is finishing her first year of college: “Apply to a lot of openings. Don’t just choose one or two and put all your eggs in one basket.”

In addition to applying online, Fry said it doesn’t hurt to put in a personal appearance whenever possible.

“For a lot of these types of jobs, just walking in and saying, ‘Hi, I’m looking for a job, do you have any openings?’ is a good start,” she said.

Leiseth agreed.

“We’re looking for personality. If you’re an outgoing person who’s naturally upbeat and smiley, you’re going to move to the top of the list,” he said.

The Fargo Park District hires about 1,100 seasonal workers every year, with about 500 of those hired for the summer months.

Most of those hired are in the 17 to 25 age group, said Jim Larson, director of finance and human resources for the Park District.

He said jobs range from landscape workers to interpreters for park activity programs.

‘Best jobs’

Ten years ago, when she was 15, Jessica Rognlien got a job as a lifeguard at the Madison Park swimming pool in north Fargo.

She’s returned to the pool every summer since and is now the pool manager.

Rognlien said one thing that helped her get the job 15 years ago was thorough preparation.

“I made sure I had what I needed,” she said. “I had my lifeguard training and my water safety instructor teaching license. Then, I just went online and applied.”

Rognlien liked the job so much she urged friends to apply.

“That’s how I got most of the employees who work with me at the pool,” she said. “I advised a lot of my friends: Go get your life-guarding, it can be one of the best jobs you can have.”

Rognlien, a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, hopes one day to be an elementary school teacher.

“I also want to coach swimming,” she said.

Jake Karst, a student at Concordia College, landed a part-time job with Scheels late last summer and has been working at the downtown Moorhead store ever since.

Karst expects to expand his hours this summer, working in the bike and service shop.

His advice for anyone looking to land a summer job?’

“Go as yourself. Be who you are,” he said. “You can’t go into a job opportunity and try to be somebody you’re not.

“And talk yourself up,” Karst said. “If you’re good at something, let them know you’re good at something.”

A hockey player, Karst said when he was told the job would include duties like sharpening skates, he knew he had an in.

“I think that definitely helped, that I knew what to do,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555