Jamba Juice is well known for hiring teenagers. In fact, there are 18 to 20 of them in every single store but that still does not begin to meet the demand for jobs. The teen unemployment rate in Silicon Valley is a whopping 25 percent.
It's opening weekend for California's Great America. Just last month, the Santa Clara theme park was busy trying to fill 2,500 seasonal jobs. Samantha Szabados, 15, decided not to apply and took a job as a swim instructor instead. "So many people are applying for so many of the same jobs that I think it all depends on the pay that people would get," she told ABC7 News.
The leisure and hospitality sector in Santa Clara County is on an upswing. 1,600 new jobs were created in a single month from January to February.
Dylan Arcejaeger got hired by Great America. He's a student at Chabot College. He explained why he thinks he beat out so many others for the job saying, "For this job, for example, in the interview, you have to be really outgoing and really loud and vocal, and a lot of people I know, they're timid or they like to be reserved or only loud around their friends, and you just have to be yourself."
Still, the job market remains tough to crack for others. Matthew Acevedo says it's frustrating not to hear back after applying. "Yeah, usually I just do it online and I sometimes hear back and they sometimes say no, or sometimes maybe. It doesn't usually work out though," he said acknowledging it's sometimes "sort of a dead end."
There's no question about the value of a summer job if you can land one.
"Even people working at games, they have to deal with people. They have to interact like professionals would. We have people that are guest services. They have to deal with problems that you would have to deal with at major companies, so it's a great learning experience for a lot of these kids," explained Roger Ross with Great America.
Youthful energy is what Jamba Juice seeks. This is a first job for 75 percent of the teens it hires. It accepted a challenge last year by the U.S. labor secretary to hire more teens. "So we stepped up to a 2,500 commitment, and we actually exceeded that by 300 percent. We hired 6,000 people over the course of last summer across our system," said Jamba Juice COO Bruce Schroder.
Another factor that could make it difficult for teens to find jobs this summer is San Jose's new minimum wage that has gone up to $10 an hour.