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Sunshine a perk on teen jobs

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Some high school kids are conquering age-old summer-job blues by getting a tan while they work.

Outside jobs are some of the most popular among Utah teenagers. Landscaping and camp-counseling, as well as life-guarding and amusement-park jobs, offer a summer experience, even if it doesn't involve lying outside with the radio and a magazine. As far as they're concerned, the fresh air is better than the air conditioner and the sunlight is better than fluorescent bulbs.

"I'm not crammed in a cubicle," said Rob Bezdjian, a supervisor at Raging Waters. "I can walk around and enjoy the summer; (teens with inside jobs) have to enjoy it on their day off."

Bezdjian, who will be a senior at Taylorsville High School this fall, is spending his second summer at the west-side waterpark to pay the bills.

"I might as well pay them in the sun," he said.

Some students say the amount of sun they receive far outweighs the amount of cash that ends up in their pockets.

Kendall Coomans, 17, works as a lifeguard at the Steiner Aquatic Center near the University of Utah. She said the money isn't the motivation behind her job — it can't be, because it's not that lucrative.

"It's not the money; it's the work," said Coomans, who makes $6.60 an hour. "I'm learning responsibility at the same time."

Other students said they think outdoor jobs provide experiences more conducive to a career.

"It'll look a lot better on my resume than 'hamburger flipper,' " said Robby Barnes, 15, another Steiner lifeguard.

Raging Waters head guard Amy Crowe, a senior this fall at Jordan High, said she's getting experience for the pediatric career she hopes to pursue by learning CPR and working with kids.

"You get to interact with people," she said. "An indoor job filing papers is boring."

Some outdoor workers say their friends are jealous of their sunny jobs.

"I hate to be cooped up; my friend works in telemarketing," said Sherry Heintz, 16, an outdoor gift-shop worker at Hogle Zoo who makes $6.10 an hour. "He hates sitting on his butt."

Luke Roberts, 17, helps kids make arts and crafts for Salt Lake County's Arts in the Park program. His friends who work in grocery stores are always complaining, he said.

"I appreciate the outside a lot more," he said.

Although it's rough waking up at 6 a.m. to maintain the grounds of the Utah Capitol, Dustin Rood, a senior this fall at Viewmont High School, said he likes working outside because he can go at his own pace.

Tyler Peterson, a senior at Cottonwood High School come fall, has the same job as Rood and would actually rather work, for $7.19 an hour, than "sit home and be lazy and wake up at noon."

"No way am I losing summertime," he said. "I get paid."

Barnes said although the responsibility is an added stress, he wouldn't want to be sedentary.

"You enjoy it, but you have to be alert while you're enjoying it," he said. "I have to be always aware of everyone."

And as for that tan, what better way to get it? Usually.

Heintz said the zoo's uniform, a T-shirt, is giving her a farmer's tan.

"It's better than nothing," she said.


E-MAIL: lwhite@desnews.com