Students should start looking for summer jobs now

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    Alicia Shipman, a 20-year old junior at Rutgers University in Newark, is looking for a summer job. But she isn't too worried. ``There are a lot of jobs,'' Shipman, a psychology major who lives in Jersey City, said recently after surveying dozens of recruiters filling a room at the Robeson Campus Center for a job fair. Students who want to work this summer should have many opportunities, whether at the Jersey Shore or among mainland employers both big and small, from Fortune 500 companies to local landscaping firms, experts said. Each summer, students fill tens of thousands of jobs and the state Department of Labor estimates employment at the Shore alone surges by 40,000. Even so, it is best to start looking as soon as possible. Surveys conducted before recent signs emerged of a possible economic slowdown found the summer job market may be the best in four years, according to, a guide for college students based in South Brunswick and owned by Dow Jones. Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a leading job placement firm, says an improving economy and a shortage of foreign workers means teenagers seeking work this summer should be in demand. One reason is fewer teens seem to want to work during the summer, according to the firm. ``There are tons of jobs out there, you just have to know where to look,'' said Barbara Weinbaum, an employment counselor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The school's Web site lists about 10 percent more summer jobs than last year, she said. Employers may have more jobs to fill because the economy is a bit stronger than last summer and because they are more likely to offer part-time, summer jobs than full-time jobs, because they may want to avoid paying health benefits. A summer job is also a good opportunity to look at a candidate before hiring them permanently, experts said. A robust market for job seekers may make life difficult for some employers. On Long Beach Island, some seasonal employers are having trouble because new businesses across the causeway on the mainland are competing for workers. ``I don't think there is a business around here that doesn't have a ‘help wanted' sign in the window,'' said Ellen Dondero Meyer, an assistant vice president at Commerce Bank in Beach Haven and treasurer of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. The range of summer jobs was apparent at a recent job fair at Rutgers in New Brunswick, where the employers ranged from local day camps, landscaping companies and retailers at nearby malls to big names like Coca-Cola Bottling, Commerce Bank, FedEx, United Parcel Service and Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. Judy Fisher, executive director of human resources and administration, said the Trump casinos hire about 550 summer workers. Most work as waiters or in security positions. ``It's a great place for students,'' she said. ``There is so much to do after work.'' At Six Flags Great Adventure, the state's largest summer employer, Jayson Maxwell, the park's director of human resources, is well on his way to hiring the 3,500 summer workers he needs to greet customers, sell soda and candy and operate rides. The jobs pay between $6 and $13 an hour, depending upon experience, and pay more for supervisors. About half of the workers return from last year. This year, for the first time, Great Adventure is offering about 350 paid internships in the administrative office and scholarships to help workers pay off student loans. ``We are looking at how we can better prepare students for the next employer,'' Maxwell said. ``They put our name on their resume.'' Jerry Alvare, a recruiter for FedEx, plans to hire as many as 200 part-time package handlers at the Woodbridge distribution hub, the company's biggest, which can handle 600,000 packages per day. About 700 people work there nearly around the clock. The positions pay between $10 and $10.50 an hour. Hires get a $100 bonus after working 80 hours. And these entry-level jobs can lead to more. ``We find someone at a job fair, they work for us for two or three summers, and the next thing you know, they are interested in a management position,'' Alvare said. ``We already know they have a great track record.'' JillXan Donnelly, president of the Career Exposure, a network of Web sites, which includes and, offers the following tips on how college students can find a job this summer: • Touch base with friends, family and former colleagues. You never know who may give you a lead for an open position. • Meet and network with people in your desired field. Ask for informational interviews because professionals often enjoy talking about themselves and what they know about the local business environment. • Update your resume to reflect your most recent experience. Consider creating several résumé versions for a variety of careers. • Polish your interviewing skills. Questions regarding your relevant work experience, strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments and salary requirements are typically covered in every interview. Have prepared answers for these questions and practice your delivery. • During interviews, it is important for you to look and dress professionally. • Here are some points about the state's summer job market from the state Department of Labor: • Wages vary from the minimum of $5.15 an hour to about $10 an hour, typically slightly higher in northern New Jersey. • The largest number of jobs are at amusements and theme parks. At the Jersey Shore, employment surges by about 40,000 from April through July, most filled by high school and college students. Summer jobs have actually declined at fast food restaurants, which rely more on permanent workers. • Among big Shore employers: Six Flags Great Adventure; Jenkinson's Beach, Boardwalk and Aquarium in Point Pleasant; Casino Pier and Waterworks in Seaside Heights; Funtown Pier in Seaside Park; Fantasy Island Amusement Park on Long Beach Island; and Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport. • North Jersey employers include: Wild West City in Byram; Mountain Creek Waterpark in Vernmon; and Land of Make Believe in Warren County. Also minor league baseball stadiums: Commerce Bank Ballpark, Riverfront Stadium and Skylands Park • Government agencies hire for parks, summer camps, swimming pools and day-care centers. • New Jersey's Child Labor Laws limit the types of jobs for those under 18. They may not work construction; work with cutting or slicing machines, such as in a deli; serve alcoholic beverages or work in video stores where R-rated movies are available.