ATLANTA -- It's tough to be a teen, especially one looking for a job. The U.S. Labor Department says only 48.8 percent of teens and young adults found a job last July, the lowest number since 1948, when it started keeping records on it. This summer the outlook is even worse.
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"I was supposed to get an interview with a pizzeria I went too, but I never got a call back," said Patrick Whitley. "Pretty much I've just gone for the typical jobs of a teenager. Box boy, bagger, stuff that nobody really wants."
Alissa Walens also applied at a music store and to be a camp counselor. No go.
"I'm still hopeful, I'm still looking. I've been discouraged a bit, like why am I still looking I'm not going to find anything, but I still want to work," said Walens with a heavy sigh.
This summer, teens are learning a very adult lesson about the job market. It's rough out there.
The federal government has partnered with businesses across the country to create jobs for those between the ages of 16-24. It even created a website to provide one stop access to the listings. Every position is entry level and companies post, expecting teens and young adults to apply.
Manpower will hire 20 interns. Two will work out of Atlanta. It's also actively trying to convince other businesses to do the same.
"It's not about adding to headcount, it's about corporate social responsibility and it's about investing in our future," said Herman.
The future is just what Walens and Whitley are thinking about. Both say a summer job will give them more than money. It's an opportunity to improve their college application, build a savings account and learn valuable life skills.
"It builds character. It lets you get out there in the real world to see what having a job is really like. It gives you a bit of responsibility, something to fall back on. More or less it allows your parents to see you're ready for more than just chores," said Whitley.
"What's at stake is motivation. What's at stake is self esteem. Kids learn what it's like to collaborate, to work as a team," added Herman.
She says teens need to put their best self forward and be persistent. "You put on the right clothes, you pull a resume together, you wear a smile and you get out there and knock on every door."
If you do get an interview, she suggests teens practice potential questions with a parent beforehand. Everything from standing up straight, making eye contact and a firm handshake can make a difference. Herman says there are jobs, teens are just going to have to prepare to compete harder to get one of them.