Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 17
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
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Public Library Job Fair Offers Teens and Employers a Win-Win Situation

Ellen Gilbert

The happy hub of teenagers meeting potential employers at the Princeton Public Library’s second “Teen Job Fair” last week helped to offset the pain of recent headlines proclaiming “Recession Hurts Job-Hunting Teens.”

Recalling last year’s event, which was attended by over 300 students, teen librarian Susan Conlon was initially anxious about doing the fair again this year, “the hiring climate being what it is.” Her fears were allayed, however, as many of the employers who participated in last year’s event asked to be included again, along with a number of new entries. “It shows a company’s positive attitude,” Ms. Conlon observed, “while giving teens a chance to practice their interview skills and get information.”

Helane Staller, a board member of the Princeton Alcohol and Drug Alliance (PADA), the event’s cosponsor, noted that participating businesses and agencies were offering volunteer, as well as paying jobs, and that youngsters were arriving from well beyond Princeton High School. Those teens who were unable to attend last week’s program can access much of the information through the library’s website, including the “Princeton Teen Job Fair 2009 Directory,” interviewing tips, and annotated list of “money and work resources.”

Employers’ Perspectives

“We hired five or six students last year,” said returning representative Phyllis Gearren of Braun Research, a market research company. “Some came back at Christmas, and some called to come back after college. For us it’s a nice chance to do something for the community.”

“A lot more kids these days are sensitive to contributing to their families,” observed Craig Matthews of Sparkling Pool Service, and he is there to help: his company boasts “100 percent job placement” of teens they have trained as lifeguards and pool aids.

McCaffrey’s Lorena Barrera also testified to hiring “a lot of teenagers as cashiers. They start in high school and some college kids come back every year.” Business Development Manager John J. Coll, III, of Express Employment Professionals, said that his company’s two offices place young people in jobs that include everything “from light industry to office services.”

Other participants in the program included Hands on Helpers/VolunteerConnect; the Mercer-Bucks Jewish Community Center; Learning Express; the Princeton Family YMCA; the Princeton Human Services Commission; Shop-Rite of Montgomery; Six Flags Great Adventure; and Wegmans Food Markets. Oh — and the Princeton Public Library is looking for young volunteers to assist librarians in summer reading club registration and activities. Applicants “must be friendly and like working with children. Schedule is flexible.”

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