Brookings employers discuss job openings

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

If you want a summer job, you’d better start looking right away.

“I have to give them credit,” said Nancy Jo Popowski, who runs the One-Stop Career Center on campus. “Students are looking for summer jobs much earlier this year.”

According to Popowski, the One-Stop Career Center, which is on the lower level of Medary Commons, helps between 350-500 students look for a job every month.

While that may sound like a lot, Popowski said this year is definitely not the best year for student job hunters, despite a long list of local employers that work through the center.

“The economy has changed the employment picture,” she said. “It’s a scarier time for both employers and employees.”

At Larson Manufacturing there are less doors and windows being produced for exactly that reason.

“This is the first time in a long time that we won’t be hiring a lot (of students),” said Tracey Smith, Larson’s training and development coordinator.

She pointed to war worries, the economic downturn and bad weather in the southwest U.S. (Larson’s main home-improvement market) as the reasons for the slowdown in hiring.

Smith said Larson will probably only have between 15 and 20 jobs open for the summer. She said company policy is to fill existing positions

with previous employees and children of current employees, so the chances for outside students to work this summer are slim.

The employment outlook is equally bleak at Rainbow Play Systems, an outdoor child recreation equipment manufacturer.

Pam Hauge, personnel administrator at Rainbow, said the number of student workers she would hire for the summer depends on how many student workers leave for the summer.

“We will have some 40 hours-a-week positions open,” she said.

She emphasized that Rainbow loves to hire SDSU students. Over 90 percent of the night part-time shift is college students.

“We love having those college kids,” Hauge said. “They’re powerhouses.”

While most of the large companies in Brookings aren’t desperately seeking student workers, Daktronics is practically begging for them.

Daktronics is the largest corporate employer of students in Brookings, with over 360 students working there at any given time, said Recruiting Coordinator Donna Langland.

Langland said Daktronics, which manufactures displays and scoreboards used all around the region and the nation, is not being affected by the economic downturn or the war.

“Our orders have been holding up,” she said. “There was a little hiccup after 9-11 because everyone was a little scared. But we came back strong.”

Langland said there will probably be around 25 day and at least 25 night manufacturing positions open in sports products, electronics assembly, and video products. There will also be several jobs open in Daktronics’ customer repair service center and in their marketing and sales departments.

She said Daktronics prefers to hire graduates who have worked for the company during school.

“New graduates are who we like to fill our jobs,” she said. “They’ve been doing the job for three years already.”

If you work at Daktronics, there might be some familiar faces other than other students.

“SDSU teachers sometimes come and work during the summer in their area of expertise,” Langland said.

Working at Daktronics pays off if students work through the summer into the school year. Those who stay earn an extra dollar-an-hour.

Back at the One-Stop Career Center, Nancy Jo Popowski said the best bet for summer jobs, other than with the big manufacturers, is on campus.

She said there are jobs such as grounds keeping and custodial, but that there are fewer jobs than previous years due to the school not having as much money.

Popowski also recommended looking into other seasonal jobs, such as farm work and landscaping, but she acknowledged that finding any job will be a job in itself.