DALLAS—It was a difficult summer for teenagers, as 1 in 4 of them nationwide went looking for work and couldn’t land a job, according to the Labor Department.
While the nation’s unemployment rate in July was a little over 9 percent, the teen rate was more than double, at 25 percent and that meant many teens were not learning what it’s like to hold down a job.
Duncanville High School senior David Lara had a lot of time this summer to practice playing baseball. That’s because he just couldn’t find work.
“[I] went everywhere. Got applications, applied, always got the, ‘I’ll call you.’ You know how that works,” said Lara.
Lara was like many between the ages of 16 and 19, as for the third straight summer, more than 20 percent of teens in that age group had been unable to find work, according to the Labor Department.
“I want to work. I really want to work to get my own money and make my own way, pay for everything I need to,” said Lara.
Danielle Burrell, 17, saw the struggles her friends were going through in trying to find work.
“I don’t know if I really want to do the whole flipping the burger or actually behind the desk thing,” said Burrell.
Burrell said she wanted to be a corporate lawyer, so she skipped the typical summer jobs altogether, and with the help of the non-profit group Girls Inc., she applied for an externship at the Sedgwick Law Firm.
“I just did the application and did an essay, submitted it and prayed and hoped that I get it,” Burrell told The 33 News.
She got it, and got three weeks of hands on training.
“After being with the Sedgwick law firm and seeing how everybody worked together and depended on each other, I was like, ‘You know, this is something I would like to do,’” said Burrell.
While she didn’t work the entire summer, Burrell was glad she got some kind of work experience, something many in her generation were missing out on.
“I know movies or shows can paint how work is this fun environment, but sometimes it’s OK to understand that work sometimes is not a fun environment and is actually the real world,” she said.
That was the concern of many job and career experts who said summer jobs, whether it be at a law firm or a fast food restaurant, teach teens valuable experience. Many teens were not learning how to become good employees or what kind of challenges they may face in the workplace, which could affect them once they joined the workforce full time.