At the customer service desk at Target recently, two teenage girls were talking about their job prospects for the summer.
With applications ready to turn in, both said they needed as many hours of work as they could get. But, they were worried that having to make up a week or so of school days lost to old man winter could jeopardize their hiring or at least shrink the size of their take-home pay.
Between massive snowstorms, sub-zero temperatures and even bomb cyclones, this past winter will definitely impact the start dates and shorten the work season for a lot of teens this summer.
The good news? That's about the only negative for the summer hiring season. And even there, teens caught up with extra school makeup days can get around that by requesting weekend shifts to get started.
The really good news? Employers are expected to boost their hiring of teens by about 5 percent this summer compared with summer 2018, according to an annual survey by the business and executive placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Nearly 1.38 million teens found work last summer, the highest number since 2012, Challenger said.
Even in a tight labor market, the so-called participation rate among teens looking for work could rise as well, the Challenger report said. Last year, about 35 percent of 16-to-19 year-olds sought work for the summer.
The Challenger report did not address pay. But many companies have been pushing starting wages north of the minimum wage.
Teens have traditionally found summer work at retail stores, and while there are still plenty of opportunities, many of those jobs have disappeared as store closings have mounted. On the other hand, food services and entertainment-related companies are hiring, Challenger said.
"Companies in almost all sectors are struggling to find talent," the report said. And while adults took the place of many teens in employment lines during the great recession and recovery years, those jobs are starting to swing back to teens.
Don't sell your skill set short either. According to Challenger, employers have openings for administrative work, answering telephones, manning general email addresses and doing social media work.
Collegeinvestor.com recently posted 50 side-hustle ideas for college-age students looking for work this summer. Among the ones I liked, because I've seen the money to be made: dog walkers, pet sitting, computer repair, foreign language tutors and deck staining.
While June is typically the strongest month for teen hiring, don't dawdle. This is the time turn in applications, write and buff up resumes and schedule interviews.
Don't know where to begin? Start with your network of friends, neighbors, church leaders, instructors, coaches, friends' parents and anyone else who may know about job opportunities.
And just because you haven't held down a job before doesn't mean your resume is a blank slate. Include volunteer experience, extra-curricular activities, and any other information that would show an employer you are a team player, take directions well, and show some initiative.
Come time for the interview, dress for success. Leave the jeans and spring break souvenir T-shirt in the closet. My advice: It's always better to overdress than underdress.