MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When it comes to the best summer jobs for a teenager in the Twin Cities, it doesn’t get much better than Valleyfair in Shakopee.

The atmosphere is fun, your co-workers become friends and the rides are free.

“It’s a great summer job. You get a lot of hours and you make a lot of money,” said Jessica Brox, who this season began her fifth summer at Valleyfair.

There are about 1,600 positions at the Shakopee amusement park and according to management, as many as half may open up in a given year.  Up to 10,000 workers will apply for those positions this year, so good luck because it’s a competitive process.

It’s been fairly tough the past few years for teenagers to land any summer job, but this season is looking brighter.  Figures released this spring by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development show that the state’s teen unemployment rate is beginning to drop.

Teenage unemployment spiked in July of 2010 at about 26 percent, and this past April, dipped to 12.5 percent, which is a two-year low.

Workers with the state department that tracks employment said it’s more difficult for teenagers to find work during a recession.

“Adult workers often come out ahead because they simply have the experience,” said Oriane Casale, the assistant director of labor market information with the Minnesota DEED.

The experts with DEED say teenagers should have a better chance in the near future of finding work in construction and manufacturing as these industries begin to hire more. DEED projects that manufacturing may grow as much as five percent in the next 10 years.

That’s even true at Valleyfair, where being hired there is comparable to winning a sweepstakes. There are the lucky ones like Ben Shanks, who landed a job there this summer at the age of 14. It’s his first job, and the only one he said he applied for.

“I guess I am pretty lucky,” said Shanks, who works the ticket booth where he’s letting people into the amusement park.

It took other teenagers a few more attempts to find work.

“Honestly, it was pretty difficult,” said 19-year-old Emily Hartmann, who’s home from college for the summer.  “I applied anywhere I could think of.”

Managers at Valleyfair understand the unique relationship between the park and the seasonal, teenage workers.  Many of these teenagers quit after a few seasons when they graduate and as a result, hundreds of new teenagers are hired each year.

“They want to work, they want to have fun,” said Kevin Magyar, the director of general services at Valleyfair.

With a season of sun and fun ahead of them, Valleyfair is the ideal place for many teenagers to learn the value of an honest day’s work.

“I do get to make some money, so that’s nice,” said Shanks with a smile.


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