Firsthand: Where's the Work?

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I'll be 16 later this year and I go to the School for International Studies, in Brooklyn. School finishes June 17, and I want to buy stuff on my own instead of asking my mother. Clothes, sneakers, things for my little sister. And saving for college. I wanted all that a year ago, too. I wanted a summer job.

Last spring I went to the Boys and Girls Club on Bedford and Flatbush to get a city job working with kids. I had to fill out a form and go to the doctor for an exam, but I still didn't get hired. I went to my little sister's school and filled out an application, but they said my mother makes too much money (she doesn't—she works at a factory). Then I went to stores on Flatbush, like Hair Factory and Old Navy and Rainbow. They said I was too young.

So I went to summer school for math even though I didn't have to because I'm good at math. And I swam at my auntie's house in New Jersey. I didn't feel OK, because my friends had summer jobs.

This year I got my Student General Employment Certificate: It's this little card that lets you work a lot of hours during vacation. I went to Dunkin' Donuts and filled out an application. They said I was too young.

So I went on the Internet. I typed “Youth,” “Job,” “Employment” and “Brooklyn.” About 10,000 jobs came up. I spent three days, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. or midnight, sending applications on the computer. Out of those 10,000, all I heard back from was Party City and Wendy's. They said they'd email me if anything came up. They didn't.

I went to downtown Brooklyn and got work forms from the Department of Labor. I'm supposed to hear from them. Sometimes they never call back.

The city should give out more money for jobs and make the standards easier. It's not fair that some kids get jobs and others don't! Everybody should be treated equal.

I want a job so bad! When you have money, you feel like you own the world. I want to feel grown up. I'll be talking to myself and asking God, “Can you give me a job?” My mother looks at me like I'm crazy.

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