College students looking for a summer job at the Jersey Shore had
better hustle: There might be more competition for fewer jobs this year, given
the damage inflicted by superstorm Sandy.
But there still are plenty of opportunities.
That's the assessment of college administrators and business owners on a major lingering impact of the storm that devastated a formerly reliable seasonal job market for the young. It's not exactly clear yet how severely the destruction to New Jersey's coastline will affect seasonal employment and the college-student tradition, depicted in the reality TV show "Jersey Shore," of getting a summer job and renting a house near the beach.
Several seasonal employers said they plan to reopen for the summer and are hiring, and some college administrators report having the usual number of summer internships in communities near the Shore.
But the storm is likely to have an effect on the hospitality and entertainment industry, some said. For example, FunTown Amusement Pier in Seaside Heights, which typically employs hundreds each summer, many of them college students, will not reopen this summer, said Kim Pascarella, whose family is part owner of the pier.
"There's no doubt the storm will impact employment," he said. "A lot of businesses will be open, but there will also be a lot that aren't."
Even before Sandy hit, college students were finding it harder to get summer jobs at the Shore, state labor officials said. They "experienced more competition for jobs as some of the workers displaced as a result of the economic downturn looked to seasonal employment as a means of making ends meet," said Kerri Gatling, a public information officer for the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Before Sandy hit, the state typically added 35,000 to 40,000 jobs in the leisure, hospitality and retail fields between May and September. The age group that fills the largest share of those jobs is under 25, records show. Gatling said the state won't have a detailed picture of how Sandy affects those numbers until fall.
But Adam Mayer, director of Montclair State University's Center for Career Services and Cooperative Education, said it's likely that there will be fewer summer jobs than last year, and thus, more competition. If students can't find jobs, he said, they should look for volunteer opportunities that provide experience and broaden their networks. He suggested the website volunteermatch.org or Habitat for Humanity.
Usual number of jobs
William Hill, assistant dean for career services at Monmouth University, said his office is getting the usual number of job postings from banks, retailers and small businesses, most of which are not tied directly to the summer tourism industry. The university gets postings for about 1,000 part-time positions throughout the year, and he estimated about 20 percent are for summer jobs -- "It can be anything from being an au pair for a family to clerical help at a law firm." He said he expects summer job postings will be available through May.
But Walter Tarver III, director of the Career Center at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, said if "students wait much longer, they might have a hard time." The college currently has postings for 116 internships, most of them in the vicinity of the college's campus in Galloway and many in the hospitality industry, he said. They range from hotel restaurant customer service to accounting to event planting.
"It looks pretty active down here," he said. "So from our perspective, not much has changed."
Some employers along the Shore, though, said they expect increased competition for fewer jobs, and they anticipated that would allow them to choose from a pool of more highly qualified young job applicants.
Anne Fitzsimons, owner and manager of Jay's on Third, a restaurant in Stone Harbor, was having her restaurant rebuilt last week and said she expects to be open for summer. She said she planned on attending a local job fair and expected a lot of interest among young people for open positions as hostess, food runner and busser.
"We will be able to have a bigger group of people to choose from, for sure," she said, adding that Shore areas to the north were hit harder than Stone Harbor.
Sounding a solid note of opportunity for those who hustle, Lori Pepenella, destination marketing director of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, said many of the tourism employers in the Long Beach Island area will be up and running. "There will be demand for lifeguarding, restaurants, amusements," she said. She added that with rebuilding, there may be opportunities in constructions, as well. "I think there will be plenty of jobs."
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