by Shawna Leader/The AS Review

Summer is nearly upon us and you know what that means: days at the beach, few or no classes and time to relax.

…Oh, and something called a summer job.

Job competition, along with the depressing economy, make Bellingham a dicey place to find a job, said Caryn Regimbal, manager of Western’s Student Employment Center, located in Old Main 275.

“I believe it’s more competitive this year than it has been in previous years,” Regimbal said, although she noted that there are still several job postings on the Student Employment Web site (www.finaid.wwu.edu/studentjobs/). She advised students to check the site continuously.

“Our numbers, in terms of postings, have been up in the past month,” Regimbal said.

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Photo by Erik Simkins.

Finding a job in Bellingham is not easy, freshman Meagan Acdal said. She is staying in Bellingham this summer, taking classes and hoping to get a job. So far, she is applying for positions in retail and at restaurants.

“They’re the only things that are available,” Acdal said. “I’ve applied to at least 10 to 20 places already and I’ve only been interviewed three times.” She described an interview that she went to in which 10 people were interviewed and only two were hired.

Regimbal noted that a recent article in the Bellingham Herald stated that unemployment in Bellingham is up. According to an article dated from May 20, unemployment in Bellingham was 8.6 percent in April, a drop from 8.8 percent in March. But, according to the article, the numbers of people looking for work and employed have decreased by 750 and 460 people, respectively.

Despite this, Regimbal said that the Student Employment Center will continue to let employers and students know of the services the Web site provides.
“One would think that with the economic downturn there might be local organizations that aren’t hiring as many [students] but we continue to do outreach to employers to remind them that we’re still here,” Regimbal said.

This outreach includes sending e-mails to employers that remind them that the Student Employment Center is a free service for employers wishing to post their job offers online.

“We have a database that we are able to search to see who has posted positions recently,” Regimbal said.

Junior Sean Goldsmith found his summer job because he knew people at Marymoor Park, located in Redmond, which is where he will be maintaining soccer fields and creating new trails. But he told stories of friends who are not so lucky.

“I think it’s ultra-competitive [in Bellingham],” he said. “I have one friend who’s applied to 38 different areas and hasn’t gotten any of them. He’s a perfectly competent guy but the job market here, it’s small.”

Goldsmith found a great deal of information about his job online and suggested that students turn to sites such as Craigslist for job opportunities. Other online job listings can be found on the Bellingham Herald Web site (www.bellinghamherald.com) and Echo (www.findcareersnow.com/index), Regimbal said.

Regimbal suggested that students have an active, updated resume ready to e-mail to potential employers if requested. She noted that many students have not updated their resumes since they applied for college and need to account for their college activities and accomplishments.  Regimbal suggested stopping by the Career Services Center, located in Old Main 280, for assistance with revamping a resume.

Regimbal encouraged students to be proactive in their search for a summer job. There’s nothing wrong with calling an agency that has appealing jobs to see if anything is available, she said. Sometimes this works out better than waiting for someone to post a job, she said.

Regimbal also advised students to be flexible with their search. Sometimes a job that may not seem very desirable can provide an opportunity for skill development, she said.

For example, a barista has to master several skills, such as multitasking and interacting with the public, which are great skills to have on a resume, Regimbal said.
“Having a work history, no matter what the jobs are, is very important to moving into your career,” she said.

Some students are forgoing Bellingham altogether and finding jobs elsewhere. Freshman Xan Dammarell will be returning to her hometown for the summer to work the same job she had last summer.

“I know I’m going to get a job at home. Why would I stay up here?” she said, adding that her roommate has applied for several jobs and is still unemployed.
The Student Employment Center’s Web site lists jobs from cities beyond Bellingham and from other states, Regimbal said.

“Students may not realize that we list positions around the state … and beyond Whatcom County,” she said.

Above all, Regimbal said that students should be open to new challenges and opportunities when searching for a summer job.

“Getting outside of your comfort level can be a real growing experience,” she said.