Teens battle adults for summer jobs

Most college students are already out for the summer and high schoolers aren't too far behind them. That means it's time to start hunting for those summer jobs.


everal groups in Amarillo hire specifically during the summer season like Wonderland Amusement Park, Splash, the City of Amarillo Parks and Recreation Department and even the YMCA. In fact, nearly 85 percent of the 250 employees at Wonderland are teenagers.

"We start going to all the high schools trying to get them to come out and apply," said Wonderland Office Manager Danielle Baeza. "What we look for are dependable, reliable, honest, trustworthy teenagers that are able to come out and work our summer schedule, be able to work on the weekends, holidays, whenever we need them."

That's exactly what enticed now 19-year-old Isaiah Benavidez to apply for work at Wonderland three years ago,

"I started here when I was 16 and I was a ride operator," said Benavidez.

After working three consecutive summers for Wonderland, Benavidez was promoted to Head Manager.

"Basically I go around and make sure the rides are all good, everything functioning properly," he said. "If there's a problem, I call a maintenance guy and we go check it out. I make sure everybody is at the right place, where they're supposed to be."

But finding a job during the summer, Benavidez said, isn't as easy as some might think.

"There's people that are graduated and there's always competition," he said. "they always want to hire someone who graduated before they hire someone who didn't graduate. Applying to other places like McDonalds or Hollister, places like that in the mall, it was a lot harder to get jobs there than it was here."

Older college students, and even adults are also vying for the typical "teen" jobs you might think of in the summer.

"We have been getting a lot more of our college students and the older age groups," said Baeza. "We've had more teachers, more tax preparers are using it a second job."

"There's definitely more of a challenge now against those young teenagers but the teenagers, they still have a shot for the summer jobs always," added Benavidez.

Despite the difficulty, Benavidez felt working any job during the summer months is better than nothing.

"I really do think it builds character and it gets money in their pocket and they can learn how to save," he said.

"It's a good way for them to learn to kind of mature," said Baeza. "To learn responsibility, to learn to be on time, to be reliable, to be honest. It's a good way for them to gain experience."

Of course, the ultimate incentive for finding those summer jobs for teens is still hanging around -- extra cash.

"I've got some money in my pocket," smiled Benavidez. "I'm trying to save up for a new car."