Under-qualified and Unemployed: The Teen Job Hunt Challenge


Sadie Fitzgerald

Labor Force: Sophomores Kevin Lockhart and Ansley Booth have had different experiences in navigating the job-hunting process.

It’s that time of year again. That’s right folks, it’s job hunting season. This season as the air starts to fill with the smell of anxiety and apprehension while unsuspecting teens await inevitable calls from potential employers; others scratch their heads in an attempt to even find a place of work. So here’s the burning question: Who even hires teens anymore?

The summer season is prime time for teens looking to make a little extra cash to pick up on a quick job. But national labor trends have shown that it’s increasingly hard for those entering the labor force for the first time to find a job. Simply put: businesses are looking for experienced, mature workers. And let’s face it: many teens lack inexperience and are oftentimes unfamiliar with how to best navigate the whole job-hunting process.

Sophomore Ansley Booth is one who has plunged head first into the job hunt and, in so doing, has hit the headwinds of rejections. In her view, the whole job-hunting process is not teen-friendly in any way. “Every place I have applied to requires work experience,” she said. “But how am I supposed to get experience if I’ve never worked?”

It’s Booth’s sense that the job market isn’t set up for students who just need a little extra cash. “In order to get a job these days you have to search for specific places that hire students,” she said. “It’s just really frustrating that one of the requirements — for experience — is something that is gained through a job that they will not give me.”

Sophomore Kevin Lockhart said he’s had an entirely different experience in his search for employment. After a brief search, he said he was able to easily land a post with Chick-fil-a, a popular spot for North Atlanta student jobs. “It really wasn’t much of a job hunt for me,” Lockhart said. “I knew where I was planning to work and it was just a matter of applying.”

Lockhart says that he did have to have a certain caliber of skills that he didn’t know were needed for a summer job. “Interestingly enough, the application asked me about basic math skills and how to solve customers’ problems,” he said. “I guess the math I’ve learned here at North Atlanta really kind of paid off after all.”

It’s hard to imagine a working world without teens. Employers, after all, need employees to take their first step on the employment ladder. And if there were no teens in the labor force, Chick-fil-a would certainly be a less interesting place to visit. So when all employers are faced with the prospect of hiring a North Atlanta student, their response should be “My Pleasure!”