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Summer job satisfaction; Don't look at a summer job just as a paycheck. Use your seasonal work to build your skills and contacts

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, employers are busy filling jobs for the summer.

If you haven't found a job yet, opportunities are still out there. And finding the right one can pay dividends in future job hunts.

Amusement parks like Martin's Fantasy Island and Darien Lake have just opened for the season and are a large source of summertime employment.

Martin's Fantasy Island plans to hire 500 full- and part-time workers for this summer, said Ray Wigle, public relations director for the Grand Island attraction.

The openings at Fantasy Island include jobs for game and ride operators, lifeguards, food service, gate admission and grounds workers.

"We look for someone with a good attitude and who likes to work with the public," Wigle said. The park's expanded hours of operation begin in June.

The majority of Fantasy Island's seasonal workers are in the 18- to 35-year-old age range, although there are some who are younger and some who are senior citizens. (Job applications are available at www.martinsfantasyisland.com)

Darien Lake, which bills itself as the region's largest seasonal employer, is ramping up its hiring this year:

The Genesee County park plans to employ a total of 2,500 employees, including 1,000 positions that still need to be filled.

"We really look for people with friendly, outgoing personalities," said Christopher Thorpe, assistant general manager and director of human resources. The park shifts into its full-season daily operations June 15.

One advantage of working in such a large park is every food stand or game "is kind of an opportunity to run your own business," Thorpe said. And that experience is useful for your resume for future job searches. (Darien Lake encourages applicants to use darienlake.com/jobs.)

For many seasonal employers, like theme parks, the hiring process does not necessarily end when the season starts, Wigle said. By mid- to late summer, some students are heading back to school or starting practices for a fall sport, creating openings.

The Buffalo Bisons have held a couple of hiring events to fill jobs in concessions and as cashiers, cooks and managers at Coca-Cola Field, said Robert Free, director of food service operations. Applicants are not required to have experience in food service.

The Bisons look for seasonal hires who are conscientious and friendly, since they will have direct contact with fans and make an impression on their experience at the stadium, Free said. "They are the face of our organization." (Applications are available at the team office across from Pettibone's restaurant at the stadium, or by emailing info@bisons.com)

This is the team's 25th season at the downtown ballpark; 33 seasonal employees have been with the Bisons for every one of those years, said Brad Bisbing, a Bisons spokesman.

If a job involving water is your thing, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has about 30 lifeguard openings in a five-county region that includes Erie and Niagara. Lifeguards must pass a test to be considered; the next test is scheduled for June 9 at Niagara University. (Go to nysparks.com/employment, and click where you see "lifeguards" on the page that comes up, or call the specific park you are interested in.)

The Buffalo Employment and Training Center's Summer Youth Employment Program is aiming to hire about 900 people this summer, ages 14 to 21.

Young people chosen for the program will work at nonprofit organizations including community and government organizations and hospitals. The jobs often are first-time employment opportunities for young people, teaching them how to be part of a work force, said Colleen Cummings, director of the training center. If they do the jobs well, they can get a letter of recommendation from their employer, something valuable for a future job search.

About 200 to 300 positions through the program have yet to be filled, and applications are due Friday, she said. (Applications are available at the training center, 77 Goodell St., or online at workforcebuffalo.org and click on the box for "youth services.")

Cummings stresses that young people must prepare when seeking jobs. They might not have a lot of formal experience for their resumes, but they should include activities demonstrating motivation and commitment.

"If you were 13 and mowing lawns, that can tell an employer a lot," Cummings said. The same goes for baby-sitting or volunteering at a church. References, such as a teacher or mentor, can carry a lot of weight.

When interviewing for a summer job, applicants should take the process seriously, Cummings said. "Be prepared. Research the company. Dress appropriately. Smile."

The labor market is still tight, so making a good impression through a resume and an interview is important to increase your odds of getting hired. "You should be able to describe yourself and what distinguishes you from the other youths," Cummings said.

In Buffalo, the Mayor's Summer Youth Internship Program has an application deadline of Friday. Applicants must be City of Buffalo residents between the ages of 14 and 21.

Mayor Byron W. Brown said the program expects to offer at least 1,100 jobs this year at a variety of employers, including government agencies, schools, hospitals and businesses. The young people hired will work 20 hours per week at $7.25 per hour, for six weeks.

Along with a job, the program offers features such as job readiness training, life skills and workplace etiquette, Brown said. "We want to prepare them for the future. We want to prepare them for future job opportunities."

The program gives participants the pride of earning a paycheck, as well as a chance to gain experience, skills and contacts they can use when searching for jobs later on, Brown said. (Visit www.city-buffalo.com, type "summer youth" in the search box, and click on the link for the summer 2012 program.)

Some other tips for hunting for a summer job:

*Contact your town or village government office to see if they are hiring for jobs in areas like parks and recreation.

*Search the Web. Openings for seasonal jobs in the area are posted on an array of websites, including: simplyhired.com, snagajob.com, workforcebuffalo.org/youth/summer.asp, dol.gov/summerjobs; newyork.us.jobs, summerjobs.com.

*Network. Tell your neighbors and relatives you are looking for summer work. Hand out copies of your resume to pass along for you; your contacts might come across an opening that suits you, and they will have a resume at the ready.

*Create your own summer job, like mowing lawns, and then promote it.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com