Last May, I became a part of the small fraction of D.C. teens lucky enough to obtain a job. Café Bonaparte, a tiny Parisian-themed café in the ritzy Georgetown area, is a hidden gem for various reasons. One, has great crepes. Two, it is one of the few establishments always in need of new staff. My mother knew the owner of the restaurant in a night class that she took at Georgetown University and casually brought up my unemployment. This is how I obtained a hostess job. In this way, I admit I am a special case and an exception to the large chunk of my peers who contribute to the climbing rates of teen unemployment. Not everyone can slide through a competitive job market like it’s nothing.
The teenage unemployment rate has become a national and local problem commonly overlooked in mainstream discussions of unemployment, with 23% of white teens unemployed and 46.5% of African-American teenagers. But, there are so many factors to consider before making a generalization about teen unemployment. It takes a truckload of luck because finding a job in this economy is purely based on being at the right place at the right time. If it weren’t for my mother rubbing elbows with someone in the business, there is a large chance I would join the number of kids my age who continue to search for a job. I completely feel for low-income teens living in food deserts, areas that offers few job opportunities because of the lack of businesses. I live just south of Takoma Park, where job options become increasingly sparser off of Georgia Avenue and realize that many of my peers living in my neighborhood struggle to obtain employment. Teens lacking social connections as well as money for transportation to jobs outside their neighborhood will be at a disadvantage. I am driven to work every weekend but I’m aware that many teens do not have this luxury. My experience as a 17-year old hostess is a lucky one and, to say the least, an inaccurate representation of teens who continue their search for a job in these turbulent economic times.
Image from Flickr Creative Commons 2.0 by Tyler B Dvorak