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Students struggle to find summer jobs

BY MICHELLE MCCONNAUGHEY | APRIL 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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In an unstable economy, securing a job for only three months can be difficult.

University of Iowa sophomore Yihong Zhang works at the University Bookstore but said she has been unable to find employment for the summer.

“I have a lack of experience and knowledge, so I don’t know where I would get a job,” said Zhang, who is from China.

These common concerns are why U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is spearheading a national initiative to secure summer jobs for people between the ages of 16 and 24.

Solis and several corporate leaders — including the CEO of Wells Fargo and the vice president for human resources at UPS — discussed the importance of getting college students into summer jobs during a teleconference Wednesday afternoon.

The movement, Summer Jobs USA, aims to get businesses nationwide to commit to offering 100,000 jobs by this summer. Right now, officials have around 35,000 commitments.

David Roberts, public-relations contact in the Office of Public Affairs in the Labor Department, said the push stems from a decrease in funding. In 2009 and 2010, the Recovery and Reinvestment Act distributed federal funding to provide summer jobs. Now, that funding has run out.

“[We’re] asking everyone to step up and make a commitment for summer jobs,” Roberts said.

Several UI students said getting a job depends on your location.

“There are more openings in Iowa City when other people go home,” said Courtney Hageman, a recent UI grad and employee at Cheap and Chic, 105 S. Dubuque St. “I think if you want a job for the summer, you should just stay here.”

Housing situations also dictate whether students have to search for summer jobs, said UI junior Austin Chadderdon.

“If they have a lease, they should stay to work,” he said.

Chadderdon, who works at the Den, 123 E. Washington St., said he plans to stay in Iowa City over the summer and continue working.

The Pomerantz Career Center is continually teaching students how to find internships and find jobs.

“We always tell students to look for positions they want in advance,” said Angi McKie, the director of marketing and public relations for the Pomerantz Career Center.

She said students should research what organizations they might want to work at, and find out when they actually hire.

But even though many students may leave job options open in Iowa City over the summer, not all businesses are willing to hire someone for only three months.

“Once we have our staff, we don’t hire more people for just one season,” said Jen Coran, an employee of Silver Spider in the Old Capitol Town Center.

Coran said businesses are sometimes hesitant to take on students because of the fast turnover it creates.

“If they will only be here for the summer, it’s too hard on us to go through the training to have them leave fewer than three months later,” she said.


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