Summer jobs ready to dig up

Farm Forum

If you’re looking for a job — whether you’re a student or not — you shouldn’t have much trouble finding employment in Aberdeen.

Dan Thielsen of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation said there are jobs available this summer.

“If they want to work and have the motivation to work, they can get a job,” said Thielsen, manager of the Department of Labor and Regulation’s Aberdeen office.

The demand for workers in the Aberdeen area is not just for the summer. Thielsen would say it’s year-round. That’s why you see efforts to attract workers, he said.

High school and college students have a range of opportunities, Thielsen said. Jobs are available from the Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, state agencies and businesses looking for help filling in when permanent employees are on vacation.

Young people will find a job. It might not always be exactly what they want, but there are jobs, Thielsen said. On the other hand, it could be in a field they are interested in.

Even though an employer might be looking for a permanent employee, the company may take a college or high school student “for the summer to help them get by until they can get that permanent one on,” Thielsen said. “That happened to me when I was in college.”

An employer was down a staff member in an area that Thielsen had a skill in and brought him on for the summer.

“By the end of the summer, he hired his permanent one, but he kept us both on,” Thielsen said.

The workforce outlook sometimes depends on how many people come back from previous stints.

Aberdeen’s Pizza Ranch employs some high school students year-round. When they go off to college, “we leave the door open” for them to return, said manager Carey Weismantel.

“This year, we’re kind of at a loss,” Weismantel said. “A lot of our kids that do come back for the summer have decided not to or have maybe migrated to another job.”

So people who come looking for a job will have pretty good odds, she said.

Still, the employment situation at Pizza Ranch changes daily. That’s true of many restaurants, she said.

The two McDonald’s restaurants in Aberdeen employ lots of high school and college students who are flexible and want to work full time in the summer, said owner Mike Salem.

Salem said McDonald’s would still hire people for its early morning shifts (from 5 to 11 a.m.) and evening shifts (anytime after 5 p.m.).

At Aberdeen’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, many high school and college students return each summer. That city department hires about 275 summer workers. A large percentage of them are students.

Normally, 60 to 65 percent of those young people return the next year, said park superintendent Mark Hoven.

But the number varies each year, Hoven said.

“It just depends on the year and what’s going on in the community and what the kids want to do,” he said.

Some young people stick with the department for several years. The number has dropped somewhat because many college students need to do an internship after their junior years.

“But we’ll have kids that’ll work for us four summers,” Hoven said.

Recreation superintendent Gene Morsching said hiring summer employees is becoming increasingly competitive because “everyone else is looking for staff, too.” One area of difficulty is hiring lifeguards, because those people possess a special skill for which training is required.

Parks, Recreation and Forestry tries to keep its salary level competitive with local retailers, said director Doug Johnson. Working for the department does come with one extra benefit, though: You get to work outside.

He said the number of applicants varies somewhat each year. The department does not receive an abundance of applicants.

“But certainly there’s a limited number of applicants, I would have to say,” Johnson said. “There’s certainly opportunity for others to apply.”