Summer jobs

Summer may be months away, but for teens and others hoping to find jobs, it's time to start looking now. (Photo by Chicago Tribune/John Kringas)

YMCA of Greater New York started recruiting in November, says Wheaton Griffin, executive director of New York YMCA Camp, which runs a day camp and three sleepaway camps. He's planning to hire 200 counselors for the summer and has seen more applications early on.

Griffin said he is looking for young adults who have leadership skills and experience working with children, whether through coaching or Big Brothers Big Sisters. Students must be able to pass a background check and provide three non-relative references.

Tony Oyenarte, director of the residential Camp Crystal Lake in Starke, Fla., recommends students become certified in life guarding, CPR and First Aid. He said a special skill like sailing or water skiing is also a plus.

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Fast food

Americans may be eating out less, but business is flourishing at McDonald's. The fast food chain said its same-store sales in January rose 7.1 percent worldwide and 5.4 percent in the U.S.

Tough economic times means people are more value-conscious, says Paul Facella, author of "Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald's." Families who were eating at a place like T.G.I. Friday's may take it down a notch to a fast food restaurant, he said.

Facella said fast food positions are generally entry level, which make them ideal for teens. There is also turnover, so opportunities are available, he said.

Russ Bendel, president and CEO of The Habit Burger Grill in California said locations near the beach will increase staff 10 percent for the summer.

"We're looking for people that have an upbeat kind of personality," he said. "They're somewhat outgoing and assertive. They understand what hospitality is. They like to function in a team environment."

Health care

You don't need medical training as a doctor or nurse to work in health care, says Shawn Boyer, CEO of

Places such as Walgreens hire pharmacy technicians to assist licensed pharmacists, with many providing on-the-job training, he said.

He said some home health care companies are looking for people to run errands, do light housekeeping and provide companionship to sick people.

Students can also work as valet parking attendants at health care facilities or in hospital gift shops, he said.

Ice cream shops

Ice cream shop owners don't think the cheap treat to beat the heat will take a hit.

"I think people treat themselves a little more because they may not be doing some of the bigger things they normally do," said Bob Turner, owner of Dairy Corner in Urbana, Ohio, who is anticipating a busier summer than last.

Vince Giordano, owner of Sno Top in Manlius, N.Y., is hiring close to the same number of seasonal employees this year. His shop opens on weekends in mid-March and daily in April.

Giordano says he is looking for teens who are pleasant, enthusiastic and involved in school activities, whether athletics or the National Honor Society. He said involved students generally make better employees than ones who are non-active.