St. Charles East High School senior Megan Murtaugh was looking for a way to earn extra cash and gain some job experience last year when she found out that the St. Charles Park District needed people to work at the front desk at the Pottawatomie Community Center in St. Charles.
The 17-year-old was hired in March 2013 and now spends 15 to 20 hours a week performing such tasks as answering the phones at the community center and helping people register for classes.
And she has some advice for her fellow teens who are looking for work.
“It is really important to put yourself out there and to find something that works for you,” Murtaugh said.
Despite the snow still on the ground, local businesses are getting ready to hire summer help.
The St. Charles Park District will hold its annual Teen Job Fair in cooperation with the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Pottawatomie Community Center gymnasium, 8 North Ave.
The fair will be for those ages 16 to 24. Participating businesses and agencies include Heinz Brothers Greenhouse Garden, Midwest Groundcovers, Eagle Engraving, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Cynthia K. Wade Consulting, Avon, Jamberry Nails, Affordable Party Tent Rentals Inc., St. Charles Park District and Fox Valley Special Recreation Association.
Heinz Brothers Greenhouse Garden in St. Charles looks to hire between five and 10 teens for the summer, manager Christa Bormann said.
“It’s keeping everything local,” Bormann said. “We’re a local business, and we like to make sure we hire local teens.”
The St. Charles Park District’s annual Teen Job Fair attracts hundreds of teen job seekers.
“Last year, more than 300 teens were at the fair,” said Lara Piner, the park district’s recreation supervisor. “We originally started the job fair just for ourselves and then added local businesses so there is more of an opportunity for teens.”
The fair has proven to be a good way for the park district to find summer help, Piner said.
“We probably hired 80 to 100 teens last year,” she said.
The job market could be tight this summer for teens seeking jobs, especially college students.
Craig Frank, president of Frank’s Employment in St. Charles, said those who are seeking jobs should apply early.
“This summer will be similar to last summer,” Frank said. “Most of the positions we are seeing are for experienced and advanced positions. It’s not something that college students without experience can step into.”
Funway Ultimate Entertainment Center in Batavia usually hires about 10 teens during the summer.
The teens typically are high school seniors or college students.
Funway owner Bob Hansen called it “a fun environment for the kids.”
“It’s a first job for a lot of people,” Hansen said. “They get a learning experience for future jobs.”
For some teens, the summer job ends up turning into a career.
“Many of our students are looking to go into special recreation or special education,” said Alex Redenius, support staff manager for Fox Valley Special Recreation Association. “They look to us to gain some of those experiences to see if a career in special education is the right path for them.”
FVSRA provides year-round recreational opportunities for residents with disabilities, including summer day camp programs for children with disabilities. Redenius said “it is not an easy summer job.”
“They are going to work hard,” Redenius said. “But gaining that experience at such an early age is so valuable.”