INDIO, Calif. -

In just a few weeks thousands of local teenagers will be out of school.

Thursday many of them were hoping they wouldn't be out of a job.

Soon-to-be high school graduate Emilio Diaz came to the Workforce Development Center in Indio ready for a typical job fair - hair freshly cut, shirt buttoned, and resumes in hand.

"Self confidence," Diaz said. "That's what's all about."

He admitted it's tough competing with hundreds of aspiring employees peddling their resumes to a handful of businesses. Except today the competition was a little easier - adults were not allowed to attend. The job fair was only open to young adults ages 16 to 21.

It's a leg up many of them will need. Teens have the highest unemployment rate in the country at 24.9 percent, according to the Department of Labor.

"I think employers go with people who have more experience," said 18-year-old job seeker Leah Tessa.

The job fair was organized by Dani Zepeda of the Indio Win Center, a job training center for adolescents. She said teens who work earn much more than a paycheck.

"They get a skill," Zepeda said. "They learn a trade. They meet people. Even if they're not kept permanently, they have someone to use as a reference."

"Something more permanent would be nice," Diaz said. "I have things I need to take care of. I'd really like to show my mom that I'm responsible."

It's a chance to impress mom and start building an impressive resume.

"I'm going to need some more experience if I'm going to apply for those higher jobs," Diaz said.