Summer jobs, interview tactics to help first-time employees

By Abbey Pour

Searching for summertime job opportunities can be a daunting task to teenagers, especially those applying for a job for the first time. It’s hard to know what a job is like just by reading the summary on the employment section of a website, but questions of where to work and how to get hired can hopefully be answered with some advice.

Coney Island Life Guarding

Coney Island, located on Kellogg Avenue, is an amusement park known for the world’s largest recirculating swimming pool. Coney offers a variety of positions, including jobs in rides, food, and admissions, but one job in particular is lifeguarding.

To lifeguard, one must be at least 16 years old and able to swim and tread water, as well as be alert, assertive, and have a positive attitude. Joey Baumer, Aquatics Operations Manager at Coney Island Amusement Park, explained that he expects professionalism, accountability, and diligence in an employee. A Coney Island lifeguard is very different from a lifeguarding position at a community pool.

Baumer said that Coney Island is a “fun-filled, adventurous job that builds lifelong friends.” Employees attend in-services each week where they learn valuable skills for the job and participate in team-building activities. “You get to meet new people and learn valuable life lessons,” Baumer said. The job is for “energized, go-getters, who enjoy learning but are also looking for fun,” he added.

As a lifeguard, employees will either work on the slide rotation or the pool rotation. First-time lifeguards usually work on the slide rotation as “slide guards,” where they monitor waterslides, help guests into tubes, and make sure a slide is clear before sending a guest down. The pool rotation includes most positions overlooking the pool. Guards in these positions will scan zones of water for distressed patrons or violations to pool rules.

Common shifts at Coney Island are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on both weekdays and weekends. Employees can expect two days off a week and flexibility with scheduling. Base pay is $9 an hour, and in-services, which happen once a week, are paid as well.

According to Baumer, there are many pros to the job. “You get to be at a pool all the time, you have free admission to the pool and rides, you have a free meal a day, you build social skills, and it’s confidence building,” Baumer said. The only con Baumer could think of was that “sometimes you have to work outside in various conditions.” Lifeguards are exposed to the sun for long periods of time so sunscreen is definitely encouraged, and shirts are required to be worn if the temperature is below 85 degrees and a lifeguard is out of the shade. In the case of rain, lifeguards will work until signs of thunder, lightning, or extreme wind.

Arthur’s Cafe

Arthur’s, with locations in Anderson and Hyde Park, is a full-service restaurant complete with a bar and specializing in burgers. They offer their first-time employees positions in two departments: service and kitchen. Service department opportunities include positions as a host/hostess or server assistant, and the kitchen department offers a dishwasher role.

Employees at Arthur’s must be at least 15 years old, have a positive work ethic, the desire to progress, and good memorization skills, and, typically, the ability to work at least three shifts a week. Arthur’s owner and McNicholas Class of 1991 alum BJ Hughes stressed the importance of treating others with respect, having a positive personality, and smiling easily. He described working at Arthur’s as exciting, fun, and rewarding, saying that “every day is different.” He added, “I get a satisfaction of feeling like you made somebody’s day better.”

Hughes described Arthur’s as a fun atmosphere with structure. “It’s not chaos, [but] with the structure is the ability to have fun,” he said.  “[The] biggest con can be a very high stress job,” Hughes said. “It takes the right kind of personality to handle that pressure.”

Hours are flexible for Arthur’s employees, with common shifts starting anywhere from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and ending anytime between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Weekend shifts end later than shifts during the week, anywhere between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Employees earn $4.75 an hour plus tips, which can add up to at least $8.30 an hour, if not more. “[Tipping] usually bumps pay up,” Hughes said, which “can be incentive.” Employees have the opportunity to earn a 50-cent raise within the first or second month of working.

Interview Tactics and the Application Process

Although Coney Island and Arthur’s are very different establishments, their applications have many similarities. Both applications request personal information such as a potential employee’s name, address and contact information, employment history, education received, and a verification of the information provided with a signature. Both Coney Island and Arthur’s also ask for hours available to work throughout the week.

“Just come in. Be professional, but be yourself, and show an enthusiasm for the position,” Baumer said. “Smile and have a professional image.”

Arthur’s also has potential employees fill out a short math part in order to ensure that their employees know how to make change. They also ask employees to let them know that they will make it to work so Arthur’s knows how reliable their transportation is along with their flexibility.

Advice Baumer and Hughes would give to first time employees is to smile, make eye contact, and address interviewers with formalities such as “sir” or “ma’am” to show respect. They both stress being on time and looking nice. “Don’t [wear] a three-piece suit,” Hughes said, “but look put together.” Baumer believed in the importance of confidence. “Be confident, but speak in your own words,” Baumer said.

Hughes stressed the importance of liking the people one works with. “The environment in which we work is a happy, positive one, and I think if you create an environment and appreciate your work, everyone appreciates it.”

“I think the number one thing is caring about other people, because if they possess empathy and compassion and good communication skills, I think that is the key to providing good service,” Hughes said. “I try to teach [my employees] to take it upon themselves to treat it like a challenge that you are going to make [the guests] smile once today,” Hughes added.

Coney Island and Sunlite Water Adventures, located on Kellogg Avenue, is a popular place of summer employment among McNick students. Coney Island hires individuals age 16 and older.
Arthur’s Café, located on Beechmont in Anderson, is a popular employer for students throughout the year. Arthur’s employees must be at least 15 years old.

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