Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Search for the Teen Summer Job

My two teens both want to get summer jobs this year.  They each have an opportunity to participate in a school trip to New York City next spring and they have to earn and save the money for the trip themselves.  I don’t know the exact price of the trip yet but the estimated figure is $1000.  My son is considering giving private trombone lessons and/or working at a grocery store.  My daughter is more interested in working in a restaurant or book store.  As a parent, I am excited about watching this adventure unfold.  For the first time, they will be entering the world of job applications, interview skills, working with the public and of course, managing a paycheck while saving for a long-term goal.  The first step, however, is getting the job.  Here are a few tips to help your teen (hopefully) land a great summer job!

Before You Apply

  1.  Look for a job that interests you but don’t be too picky.  Is your goal to gain experience in a certain field or is it to make money?  Either one is fine; just know what your purpose is.
  2.  Start looking for a job early.  Avoid the rush of teen job seekers when school gets out.  Let your boss know during the interview that you can work weekends until school gets out.
  3.  Let people know that you are looking for a job.  Tell your friends, teachers, your parents’ friends, and neighbors!  It’s called networking!
The Application and the Interview
  1. Be professional.  Make sure your application doesn’t have any grammatical mistakes.  Also, make sure that your voice mail message is appropriate for a potential boss.
  2.  Dress nicely for your interview, even if you are applying to a casual place.  
  3. Arrive 10 – 15 minutes early for your interview.
  4.  During the interview and on the job, be personable.  Smile, make eye contact and have a firm handshake.  Use your manners --- please, thank you, sir and ma’am go a long way.
  5. Be prepared to answer basic questions during the interview.
    1. Why do you want to work here?
    2.  How many hours are you available to work?
    3. Why would you be a good addition to the team? 
    4. What skills do you have for this job?
  6. Have a few questions ready to ask your interviewer.
    1. What would be my main responsibilities with this job?
    2. What does it pay?
    3. If I get the job, when would you need me to start?
    4. Is there anything I can do ahead of time to prepare me for the job?
    5. When will you be making a decision about the job?
  7. Say "Thank you."  At the end of the interview, thank them for taking the time to talk with you.
I’ll keep you all updated on the Whitlock’s quest for summer jobs.   Like I said before, it should be an exciting ride!

What job seeking tips do you have for teens?



  1. I read yesterday that unemployment for young adults is around 40% so competition is fierce. I don't have teenagers but would recommend that your two focus on ways they can create their own jobs (like your son's idea of trombone lessons). It's going to be super hard to get jobs with local businesses because they are likely suffering with the economy and not hiring much and they are getting a ton of applications from people of all ages.

    Summer camps might also be good - we have a lot of day camps around here and they employ some teenagers to be additional staff.

  2. I agree that competition is really tough right now. They may or may not get the jobs that they are after but the process will be a good thing for them too.

    Creating their own job is extremely valuable also! They both have skills and interests that could evolve into a young business ---trombone lessons, photography, guitar lessons, etc. I am very excited to watch this journey unfold and see what they accomplish!