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Local teens get creative with summer jobs

HAMBURG — With summer vacation approaching, many high school and college students are in search of summer jobs. However, students may not be excited about the prospect of a standard summer job – babysitting, cashiering, working in retail or fast food.

In July of 2013, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 26 percent of employed youth, ages 16-24, worked in the leisure and hospitality industry, which includes food services. Nineteen percent of the employed youth worked in retail.

What types of work and the duration and hours a student may work are regulated by the New York state government. Under state rules, teens that are 14 or 15 years old cannot work more than 18 hours in a week or more than six days a week.

Teens 16 or 17 years old must have written permission from their parents or guardians and certificates of satisfactory academic standing from their schools, in order to work. Anyone under 18 years old must have an employment certificate, commonly known as “working papers.” School officials issue all employment certificates.

However, even after obtaining the proper working papers, many young people have a hard time finding even minimum-wage jobs.

Kiara Catanzaro, 20, of Hamburg, said, “Although standard youth jobs are a great introduction to working with people, my advice for students is to try to work in a summer job that will help benefit their future career. If you’re interested in a certain field of study, look in your town for possible opportunities. You will be surprised to find that with dedication and enthusiasm, people will want you to work for them.”

Catanzaro, a senior studying journalism and mass communication at Saint Bonaventure University, is working as a full-time media escort for the Erie County Fair, this summer. The job includes escorting the media of local news stations to ensure they follow the guidelines set by The Fairgrounds media staff, assisting with story ideas or camera equipment and providing other necessary help for reporters, photographers and newscasters. Catanzaro said she found this job through the Hamburg Town Hall.

Ryan DePasquale, 17, of Hamburg, found a job involving his interests through the town, as well. He teaches youth golf lessons and washes golf carts at the Town of Hamburg Recreation Golf Course.

“I think my job is better than most teenagers. I get to teach something that I like doing, and I am outside in the nice weather,” DePasquale said. “I would recommend this job for other teenagers. You learn responsibility and make connections.”

After getting involved with the town golf course, DePasquale began to work at the town ice rink, as well.

Luke Sullivan, recreation supervisor for the Town of Hamburg Department of Youth Recreation and Senior Services, said, “We are typically looking for kids that have a passion for golf, because we want to groom them into being golf instructors, starters, that kind of thing. We find that typically in the younger kids, there’s eagerness there. There’s ‘teach-ability’ there.”

Jillian Hammell, 20, of Boston, is employed through the Village of Hamburg Recreation Department as the head tennis instructor. She is also interning with the Buffalo Bisons. The internship includes working with the Bisons’ social media sites and taking pictures of events at Coca-Cola Field.

“I would recommend pursuing a job that is out of your comfort zone. It allows you to put yourself in a position to help you learn what other skills you’re capable of,” said Hammell. “As a tennis instructor and intern for the Buffalo Bisons, I have fun but I also perform tasks I have never had to perform before. I’ve learned that I’m capable of much more than I thought.”

Instead of settling for the expected summer jobs, teens may start out by contacting the local town hall and being creative can lead to new ideas for innovative, lucrative employment.

Or, as Catanzaro put it, “If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.”

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