Well, summer is over and school has started. Across the U.S., there are many critical federal jobs that need filled since the hiring freeze was relaxed earlier this year.

Some of these job offers are only for special hiring authorities (existing government employees, veterans, etc.), but a few are open to everyone.

The reason I am bringing up the topic of “school starting” and “employment opportunities” is to encourage young people to stay in school.

When I talk with high-schoolers about careers with the Forest Service, I usually give them a real-life, hands-on example of what a perspective employer will go through when they are hiring new workers.

I will ask three students to volunteer for my demonstration. I tell the first student that they are the owner or manager of a local hamburger joint, and that they are looking to hire ONE person to flip hamburgers.

I then tell the other two students that they are the TWO applicants applying for this ONE job at the burger joint. I then give my driver’s license to one of the applicants.

I then tell the Burger Joint owner/manager that everything about these two applicants is equal, except for the fact that one of the applicants has a driver’s license and the other applicant does not.

I then ask the owner/manager who they are going to hire for this ONE job opening to flip hamburgers.

Now, I have done this demonstration for years. And it never fails that the owner/manager will always pick the applicant with the driver’s licenses. When I ask the owner/manager why they selected the applicant with the driver’s license, they always reply, “Because they have a driver’s license!”

I then ask, “What does having a driver’s license have to do with flipping hamburgers?”

And the response I get back from the owner/manager is, “Well, they can drive, so I know they can get to work.”

I then tell the owner/manager that the other applicant lives one block away and can walk to work. So, again, what does having a driver’s license have to do with flipping hamburgers?

At this point I tell the class that their high school diploma is the same as having a driver’s license when it comes to a prospective employer hiring them. So, ”STAY IN SCHOOL” and get that high school diploma.

For all you who are returning to school, after you get your high school diploma, and are looking at a career choice, seriously look at learning a trade, attending a junior college or attending a university.

Because your competition is doing this and the last thing you want a prospective employer to do is not select you because you don’t have a high school diploma, trade certificate or a degree.

(Thomas Haines is district ranger for the Mark Twain National Forest, Salem Ranger District. He can be reached at 573-729-6656 or tehaines@fs.fed.us.)