Need a summer job? Hot job market makes work search easier for Northeast Ohio students

April Helms
Akron Beacon Journal
"Now hiring" signs are common at fast food restaurants on Beall Avenue in Wooster and throughout the region. Experts say area students seeking summer work should find plenty of opportunities.

High school and college students looking for a job during the summer months should find plenty of businesses hiring.

Across the region, many businesses are scrambling to find help as restrictions imposed by the pandemic are eased. Some are struggling to keep their doors open or to maintain regular hours due to a lack of staff.

More:Now hiring: Staffing shortages leave Akron-area restaurants struggling to stay open

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Chris Canova, executive director of Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates, which helps teens and young adults stay in school and find employment, said the "landscape for employment is really good."

"Employers are having a difficult time finding employees for the summer," Canova said. "I think there's an excessive need right now in finding employees for difficult business hours. It's a very challenging recruitment environment. Young people have a great opportunity to get their foot in the door because of the job market."

Jobs for Ohio's Graduates helps place its students into work, he said. "We have three times as many jobs as kids who can fill those positions."

The service industry "is struggling at the moment to find employees, young and old alike," especially for positions that require working with customers, Canova said.

"I know some businesses are closing early because they don't have the staff to keep open," he said. "Entry-level skilled labor is really struggling to find employees. There's a great need."

Canova said there was no easy answer to why there are so few takers of the available jobs, but one reason could be "concerns with interacting with the public in a safe manner" during the pandemic. Another obstacle he sees is transportation, "especially for young people."

For those seeking a job, Canova said applicants should reach out and make that direct contact.

"If they are confident in their communication skills, I'd have them reach out directly to the place they want to work for," Canova said. "What we are seeing is students sending online applications, because that is what they are steered to do. But they need to make that face-to-face contact, rather than sending a form on the World Wide Web to get lost."

In addition, job seekers should not just call a company to ask for any position, Canova said.

"They need to communicate with a plan," he said. " 'Hi, I'm Chris Canova, and I want to work at such-and-such a job with XYZ Company.' I think the employers will be impressed. Know what the needs of the company are."

Students share their stories

Brady Warmbein, a junior public relations major at Kent State University, said he recently was able to find a summer internship beginning May 24.

"I applied to many places, specifically looking for work related to my major, such as social media marketing, digital marketing, content creation and more," Warmbein said. "The process took a long time. I probably started in December."

Warmbein, who is originally from Pittsburgh, said that "hearing back from companies was the most challenging."

"I mainly applied through LinkedIn and Handshake, but it would take weeks to hear a response," Warmbein said. "Sometimes companies didn’t even respond at all. I guess employers are looking for students who fit their description and would be a good fit within their companies, especially personality wise."

Jonathan Ransom, 18, a senior at Twinsburg High School and a media arts student at Cuyahoga Valley Career Center, works with International Sound Corp., which broadcasts races at Thistledown Racetrack.

"There are many different jobs for us," Ransom said. "There's camera operators, control room technicians. I'm doing camera operations now but I'll be moving to graphics technician. When they need a graphic on the screen, I will find it and send it to the technical director."

Ransom said he's been working there "for about a month now." He said he has learned several new skills, including working with different cameras and about live broadcasts. 

After graduation, Ransom said he hopes to enroll at Tri-C to get an associates degree in animation; he said he also would like to transfer to Kent State to get a bachelor's degree in animation. 

Kayla McDonnell, 18, a graphic image technology student at CVCC and a senior at North Royalton High School, said she has a job this summer at ID Images in Brunswick, where she is working now.

"The CVCC work transition program helped me," McDonnell said. "It helped a lot. I'm very grateful for all the opportunities that CVCC has given me. The expanded the process and opened up more opportunities."

ID Images is a label factory, McDonnell said. She said she takes the smaller rolls of labels and thermal prints them. The printing can include bar codes as well as labels.

After graduation, she said she is planning to enroll in the graphics design program at Ferris State University in Michigan.

McDonnell said students looking for a job should "have a good resume, be willing to have flexible hours, be respectful and be professional."

"They really liked the fact that I don't act like a teenager," she said of her employers. "Try not to be on your phone. Be interested in it, and care about it as much as they do."

Sara Mari, 18, a senior at Cuyahoga Falls High School, said she plans to start her search for a summer job after graduation. In the fall, she will attend Stark State College's dietary manager program.

She said she's looking for a part-time job, "maybe at the library or a gym." 

"I'm open to ideas," Mari said. 

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com