Starting a new job is never easy, especially when you're a teenager. You want to make a good impression but you're not sure what to do. You don't know your coworkers yet - will they help you out or lock you in the walk-in? Worst of all, your boss may try to take advantage of your inexperience. That's why many teens end up stuck in a job they hate.
Don't let this happen to you! Read on for the lessons learned from these four real-life summer job horror stories.
"My job was super gross."
"I worked at a pool last summer where my official title was “pool aide.” ... I had to clean up throw-up, sweep up smushed food, scrub toilets, stand at the bottom of the slides for hours - leading to my knee pains, wash out the showers, pull the hair out of the drains, listen to the complaints of parents who didn’t think their un-potty-trained child needed a swim diaper, pick up dirty diapers in the bathrooms, and the best part; clean out the drains from the pool. You could find just about anything in there, from Band-Aids to G. I. Joes." -Lauren D.
This isn’t even the grossest summer job we’ve heard about. Other teen job seekers have told us about cleaning bug-infested offices, picking out rotten blueberries from a conveyor belt, inspecting sewer pipes and getting stuck in the middle of a summer camp food fight. Yuck.
Many teen jobs and summer jobs involve at least a few nasty tasks, whether cleaning restrooms or emptying trash. But if you want to avoid getting a job that's truly gross, make sure you ask questions about what you'll be doing before you take the job. If you suspect the manager's not being honest, ask a current employee to tell you the real deal.
"My co-workers wouldn't help me."
"The sub shop was my first job and I was really excited to start working there. However, for the entirety of my first shift, I stood in the back not knowing what to do. Supposedly, I was supposed to be trained during my first shift, but nobody told me how to do anything. So I just stood in the back and watched as my co-workers made the sandwiches.
My next shift was a lunch shift, so I was sure I would be taught how to use things. But nope. I just had to get in there. My first sandwich was terrible… I didn’t know what meats went where and I had no clue how to wrap a sandwich. I got yelled at for not doing things right... The manager was never there and my co-workers weren’t cooperative at all. I got yelled at and laughed at for things I didn’t know how to do." -Vicky
This is a tough situation. An absent manager and rude coworkers are two big red flags. But here's what you can do if you're lost: take the initiative. Approach your friendliest coworker and ask him or her to show you the ropes. That way you have a mentor to turn to for help.
"I was afraid for my life."
"It was a long, horrible summer... The area it was in, oh man, talk about busy. Busy with the kind of people that would hit their kids in the store, get in an argument with their boyfriend/girlfriend in front of others, busy with people buying bootleg movies from a creepy little short guy that would bad mouth me simply because of the way I dressed.
I had to be out in the sun for 6-8 hours in the scorching heat and I would sometimes get bad sunburn. Because of the area, I was always on alert, so I can be ready if anyone did a drive-by, tried to rob me, or kidnap. One day someone robbed the store and threatened to shoot; that was the last straw. I decided the little bit of extra cash was not worth the miserable heat, fear, and being aggravated all the time, so that day, I turned in my two weeks' notice." -Cora G.
If your instincts are screaming "Get out of here!" then you should listen. If you're being harassed at work, if you feel unsafe or if the working conditions are affecting your health, you should talk to your boss about making a change - or just quit.
"I got ripped off."
"I decided to sign up for a job as a door-to-door salesperson. They brought me out to Pennsylvania, where they were currently located, by Greyhound. They had me stay out in a wonderful hotel. It was amazing. Only to figure out I would be walking the streets from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. No breaks, no lunch. Working on commission, which was only like 20% for each bottle you sold, with only one day off a week. My first pay check was $50.00. All I could afford to do is wash my clothes. After working 78 hours that week, I had only made a measly $50.00." -Malaysia C.
Because they don't have much work experience, teens are especially vulnerable to getting ripped off by unscrupulous employers. Be wary of advertisements for teen jobs or summer jobs involving door-to-door sales, work-at-home opportunities or money transfers. If it sounds too good to be true, it is! Snagajob screens all the jobs on our site, so start your summer job search now.