Finding summer jobs for teenagers

Amy White |
Categories: Job Search Tips

You just bought your first ice scraper of the season last week and your weird neighbors still have their holiday lights wrapped around their chimney.

But it's not too early to start thinking about teen summer jobs...especially when you add up the costs of your Spring Break trip, whether you're heading to Panama City Beach to catch some rays or Branson, Missouri to catch a Dolly Parton impersonator. (We know the former is much more likely than the latter.)

Here are a few tips to beat the competition for the choicest summer gigs:

Have realistic summer job expectations

Everyone has that one friend with the dream summer job - the one who makes more than you, works less and seemingly possesses an unlimited amount of sick days. (And by sick days, we mean days spent tanning by the pool while reading a copy of US Weekly). It may seem like that friend has won the summer job lottery, and we don't want to be the fun police, but what is he/she really learning? Even if a summer job may not appear to be the yellow brick road to your dream career, you'd be surprised at what you can take away from the right seasonal job.

Get yourself connected

Just like electronica music fossils Stereo MC's once proclaimed, now is the time to touch base with former bosses, employed friends, and dad's buddy who owns that restaurant. Networking isn't just for stuffy dudes in suits anymore.

Find out the local "release dates”

Find out when the local high schools and colleges close up for the summer, which will be easy if you're a student at one of them. Despite our warnings, people will wait to find their teen summer jobs until the last possible minute. You don't want to be a vulture picking over the leftovers.

Be honest with potential employers

This starts with being honest with yourself. If you're a proud vegan who isn't sure you could stand handling meat patties and prime-cut filets all day, then skip the restaurant summer job route. Being honest also includes your initial conversations with potential bosses. Don't over-commit to the amount of hours you'll be able to work up front and then back down. Also, don't claim you posses certain skills and experiences even if you don't. We know it's exciting to be on the cusp of landing a job, but the quickest way to crash and burn in your new gig is by fibbing.

Don't be “that guy” or “that girl”

When dozens and dozens of your peers are vying for the same coveted job, don't make it easy for a potential employer to take you out of the running early. From having crass cell phone ring tones blowing up during an interview to dropping off a resume while wearing a tuxedo T-shirt, the list of these embarrassing faux pas is long. When in doubt, pause, then exercise a little common sense.

Take sound advice

Job hunting and workplace cliches are a dime a dozen - see? You've probably heard to “dress for the job you want, not the one you have” or to “work outside the box.” As annoying as these are to hear - and as hard as that pesky “box” is to find - cliches serve a purpose in that there's usually a meaningful nugget of truth at the core of each. Conversely, the time to serve up cliches is not during a job interview. When speaking with a potential employer, be candid but be careful. Likewise, be yourself but be sure to filter out the just plain weird stuff (your potential employer doesn't need to know about your boy band fan club), and be one more thing...

Buy suntan lotion

A brief public service announcement: It's always a good idea to have some SPF 30 on hand. Even if you're not working outside, it will give you one less errand to run once your shift ends and it's time to hook up with your crew. Plus, no boss likes an employee with third-degree burns.