Youngsters on the hunt for summer jobs

Dorri Thompson, Director of Operations for Spin City talking with Andy Whipple and his two sons,Peyton Whipple and Devon Whipple, right at the Youth Employment Fair Wednesday afternoon in the cafeteria at Bookcliff Middle School.



People under the age of 18 are generally considered minors and certain restrictions apply to their employment.

Minors age 14 or 15 who want to work on school days during school hours must first obtain a school release permit from the school district.

No employer is allowed to work a minor more than 40 hours in a week or more than eight hours in any 24-hour period.

On school days, during school hours, no minor under the age of 16 is allowed to work except as provided by a school release permit.

After school hours, no minor under the age of 16 is allowed to work more than six hours unless the next day is not a school day.

Except for babysitters, no minor under the age of 16 is allowed to work between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless the next day is not a school day.

Exemptions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Youngsters from around the Grand Valley poured into the cafeteria at Bookcliff Middle School Wednesday looking for a job and something fun to do for the summer.

Linking youth to jobs for the season, the third-annual Summer Youth Education and Employment Fair saw more potential employers this time than in years past, organizers said.

The reason: Area teenagers make good employees, said Tauna Dean, human resources director for Action Publishing, a firm that assembles and ships books and gifts from a plant in Grand Junction. 

“I have actually found great employees here,” Dean said. “They’re happy to work. They’re happy with their wages and they have tons of energy.”

Energy was apparent from the start. The room was buzzing as parents and children whispered comments and questions to each other, deciding which table to visit next.

“I’ve worked for my grandmother before,” said Alexander Sage, 14, of Grand Junction. “Really, this summer, I just want cash.”

Sage said he wants to set $200 aside for a family trip to Disney World in Florida. “I know I’m going to want to go all out,” he said.

Faith Waltman, 15, and her sister, Glory, 16, both of Grand Junction, said they also want summer employment to earn some money.

Faith Waltman, anticipating her first job, said she wasn’t too particular about the type of work so long as it doesn’t prevent her from attending at least one of the summer camps she has enjoyed in the past.

Glory Waltman said she hopes to work with children this summer, but mechanic school at Western Community College of Colorado is what she looks forward to in the fall.


Many of the employers at the fair want to mentor the students they hire, not just train them and pay them a wage, said Suzie Miller, Mesa County Workforce Center business services manager.

“Action Publishing has a really cool mentoring program that teaches the students very valuable job skills,” Miller said.

The county is recruiting other business owners to step up and take part so that area youth can receive hands on training in basic work skills, she said.

“There is often a concern that the youth entering our workforce may not have those work ethics, those soft skills, required to do a job successfully,” Miller said. “So what better opportunity to improve your own community than by taking someone under your wing and teaching them those skills?”

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce expected as many as 600 students to run the gauntlet of job offers and activity promotions staged around the lunch tables, said Betsy Bair, governmental affairs coordinator for the chamber.

Teenagers were stopping by several exhibitors to pick up applications, including UPS, Grand Junction Parks and Recreation and the Western Colorado Boy Scouts.

Mesa County Libraries, Mesa County Workforce Center, Mesa County Business Education Foundation, Mesa County School District 51 and the chamber teamed up for the third time to stage the event, school district spokeswoman Christy McGee said.

Within the first 15 minutes, close to 200 people — counting parents — crowded through the double doors and started circling the tables set up by seven local businesses and 20 or so summer schools and camps, many asking the same questions.

“How flexible are the hours?” was one frequent question.

“How old do you have to be?” was another.


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