So you're ready to work your heart out, and who could blame you? A job means freedom and money, the two most important things to any teen. There's only one problem: you need a work permit because state law says you're not old enough to work without one. The process can be confusing, to say the least, but here's a brief overview of the steps you'll need to walk before you earn your first paycheck.
1. Talk to your parent or legal guardian
Because you're a minor and because it's the law, you'll need to get them to sign and/or approve whatever paperwork you'll be filing. Talk to them about the job you want and wrestle (with words, not John Cena style) over an appropriate schedule. It would stink to do all the work to get a permit and then find out your parents don't want you working in the first place.
2. Find out what your state's process is
I gave it an honest effort by Googling the work permit process for different states, but the results were pretty confusing. Save yourself some time and frustration and make an appointment with your guidance counselor at school. They'll almost definitely be able to point you in the right direction and may even be able to get you the paperwork.
3. The chicken and the egg
Some states require you to have a job before filing for your worker's permit, and some states require you to have a worker's permit before applying. You'll need to figure out which way your state works and tackle your job search that way.
4. Find a job
Whether it's before you get your permit or after, you'll have to find one if you want to work when you're underage. While you've got to be 16 to apply for jobs on Snagajob, you can window shop all day if you want. Look for jobs for teens in your area as a starting point and then check with the employers you're interested in to see if they hire teens with worker's permits.
But where should you start? There are more than 20,000 jobs for teens on Snagajob, and the list grows every day. Rather than have you whack away blindly at the job pinata, here's a list of the most popular jobs we see teens applying to.
These are all code for "friendly person who deals with customers." This job will almost always involve handling money, customer service and some level of sales. You'll need to be friendly, outgoing and motivated. Being a people person is a definite plus.
Sort of the equivalent of a customer service representative, a host/hostess is the smiling face you see at the front of the restaurant who gives you the not-so-awesome news that you'll be waiting two hours before you can enjoy your dinner. You'll have to deal with all sorts of people, and some of those people won't be too excited to hear the news you're delivering.
Does the idea of talking to customers all day intimidate you? No problem. Stock clerks and merchandisers are the unsung heroes of the retail world. You'll be responsible for the merchandise of the stores you love without all the hustle and bustle of sales and service.