By Kathy Henderson, Director of Economic Development, CCEDC
My first job was at Clover Leaf Farms meat stand at the Mahoning Valley Farmers Market when I was 15 years old. Every Friday after school, my girlfriend and I would ride a different school bus than our regular one from Lehighton High School and get dropped off at the farmers market for our Friday night stint.
We worked from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and were paid about $10 for our efforts. That was my first foray into customer service. Waiting on customers and getting their orders correct, then adding up their purchases and making change. It was easy except when someone wanted liver. Then I had to stick my hand into the tub and pull out raw liver to place on the scale to fill the order.
These days, I doubt that many teenagers would touch raw liver much less work for less than $3 an hour (without tips mind you). The U.S. Dept. of Labor reported that only about 4 in 10 teenagers take part-time summer jobs these days. Why? Because a lot of them are doing internships instead or in some cases putting off college to go into the Peace Corps and volunteer in other countries leaving many jobs unfilled.
I’m not downplaying the importance of internships or volunteerism, but there are jobs to be had out there especially here in Carbon County. Just about every restaurant has openings and multiple manufacturers have permanent-looking signs in front of their buildings advertising what team positions they have available. The majority are good paying jobs with benefits and sometimes even generous sign-on bonuses. Some companies will reimburse you for tuition to take classes and further your education while you work for them.
Restaurants are having to cut back their hours or close for a couple of days during the week because they don’t have the staff. Small businesses, the backbone of our society, are going out of business because they don’t have enough employees to do the work, or they can’t get the necessary materials to make their products due to staffing shortages at the shipyards and trucking companies.
The pandemic has uprooted our normal way of life, and in the process it has destroyed too many good businesses and people’s lives. So don’t be afraid to get out there and find your first job. It not only teaches you responsibility, it teaches you how to work with others and for others, and depending on the company, customer service skills that will do you well throughout your life. But most of all it gives you dignity. And who knows, it could even teach you to like liver.