Job-Hunting: The Lost Summer; A Jacksonville Teen Feels the Effects of a Harsh Economy While Seeking Employment

By Jones, Lauren | The Florida Times Union, August 4, 2008 | Go to article overview

Job-Hunting: The Lost Summer; A Jacksonville Teen Feels the Effects of a Harsh Economy While Seeking Employment


Jones, Lauren, The Florida Times Union


Byline: LAUREN JONES

Bernard Alexander is tired. He's 16, so it's young restlessness. He's still searching for a summer job, a hunt that began as soon as he got out of school at the beginning of June.

So at 10 a.m. on a Friday two weeks ago, Bernard is in his room, admiring his shoe collection. Nikes and Jordans are strewn on all sides. There is a pair sitting on his dresser, still in the box, that matches the shorts he has on. He has a shoe addiction, he said, and that explains why he has 80 pairs. It's also why he wants a job.

"I get what I want. I like expensive stuff. So I want a job so I don't have to ask my parents for things anymore."

Bernard lives on the Westside and attends A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology. He said he has used Work Source and applied to Footaction, McDonald's, Aeropostale, Cinnabon and many others. He said he has not heard a response from any of the stores.

Temeka Bridges, a business consultant with Work Source in Jacksonville, an organization that connects employers and applicants, said there are about 600 teens who applied with Work Source this summer and only 200 of them who actually got jobs. Amid this summer's economic crunch, she said that gap has been growing.

It can be tempting to let your imagination run with the stark consequences of teenagers not having something constructive to do over a lost summer. But there are other kinds of consequences for someone such as Bernard, who likes school and has goals and ambitions.

"If I'm not looking for a job, I would be sleeping," Bernard said.

And when he is not sleeping, he is watching a lot of television.

"I like Run's House on MTV the best," he said.

He turns to that channel and watches the show for a minute before saying: "Oh, I've seen this one already. It's a rerun."

He likes to hang out with his friends at their houses, too. None of his friends have jobs, either, except one of his cousins, who works at Taco Bell.

"Most of the time we hang out at Mom's, get on MySpace and text girls."

Bernard said he is not tempted to get into trouble. He understands that every action has an effect, and he does not want any bad actions having an effect on his college applications.

He plans to attend college to study information technology.

"Computers are taking over the world."

He speaks softly, respectfully and professionally, with his hands folded. …

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