5 Ways to Obtain a Job in High School
As soon as I turned 14, both my parents and I were anxious to see me employed, particularly over the summer. Once you’re in high school, you typically outgrow the recreational camps you attended as a child unless you become a counselor. Now is the time to move on to bigger and better things, namely a job!
Working as a high school student is a valuable experience. Not only does it make you more financially independent, but it also serves as a learning experience and a good way to develop people skills. If you have questions on how to join the workforce or don’t know how to start, keep reading!
Where to begin
In the US, states have varying labor laws regarding working children and teens. This includes laws about how long you can work, where you can work, and at what age you can start. Some states may require people under 18 to get a working permit or certificate. A quick Google search should lead you to your state’s government page that will outline this process.
Be mindful that there can be school attendance and performance requirements, so keep those grades up and stay in school! You would hate to miss out on an awesome opportunity because you overslept one too many days.
Individual businesses or store owners may have their own rules about employee age as well. If you can’t find this on a company’s website, make a phone call to the location you are looking to apply to and ask.
Many jobs will have an application you need to fill out, and some may request a resume. Don’t sweat it, though – head to Microsoft Word or Google Documents and you can find an easy-to-follow template. If you’re still unsure about your resume, ask a parent or employed adult. Remember that a resume is a quick overview of you and your experience, so keep it short and simple. Most companies recommend one page.
Now that you know what you need to work, it’s time to start your job hunt. The ideas below will highlight options for all schedules, skill sets, and interests.
Start with restaurants and local businesses
My first job, like many other teens, was at an ice cream chain! I spent the summer after my freshman year scooping ice cream and building sundaes.
Fast-food chains, retail jobs, and restaurants are great first picks for high school students. Many employers understand that this is your first job and do not require typical previous work experience. On my application, most of my previous experience came from volunteering. If you are not sure where to start your job search, try picking your favorite place to eat! You will already know a bit of the menu, and many companies offer employee discounts on products. You can finally try that strawberry ice cream you have eyeballing behind the counter.
You may want to check out small businesses as well. Not only is it nice to support local businesses, but you can also find options that may be related to your intended career.
If you are artsy, think about working at your nearest pottery painting place. Interested in agriculture? Look into small garden supply stores. There is something for everyone!
Work with kids if you love children
If you love working with kids, this section is for you! Many camps need older teens to be counselors. I have heard great things from my friends who worked at Girl Scouts of America or the YMCA. Be warned, some of these camping jobs may take up a significant part of your day (or summer) because of how long a summer camp typically runs.
If camp isn’t for you, try lifeguarding, babysitting, or tutoring. Many neighborhoods and gyms with pools look for teen lifeguards. If you are excelling in school, tutoring may be a great option for you. Many parents love to give their kids a jumpstart for the next school year, or you could help with test prep if you have taken and done well on standardized tests.
If you’re an athlete or train at a studio or gym, ask your coaches and managers about assistant coaching gigs. This can be an easy transition if you already have great relationships with your head coaches. You never know who needs what, so explore your community and don’t be afraid to ask around!
Be your own boss
Many teens may find that traditional jobs are too time-consuming or don’t fit into their schedule. If this is you, create your own business. If you gather a few friends, you can easily create your own summer business. This can be anything from lawn services to selling baked goods to pet-sitting.
First, form your team, then find your purpose, and then do some advertising. A couple of posters around the neighborhood and posting on your social media will help you build a customer base.
One of my friends started a baking business after completing a cooking class in school. Another one of my peers aspires to be a veterinarian, so she does pet-sitting over the summer and holidays. Another friend held car washes for a week to raise money for a new car. Be untraditional! Creating your own business offers you a flexible schedule and allows you to explore things you are passionate about.
Find an internship
As you start to find more specific career interests, you may find you want to intern at a place that matches your career interests. Fair warning, these are a lot harder to find. However, your parents and teachers are a great resource for finding these opportunities. Many students can intern as front desk assistants, billing workers, social media coordinators, or technology assistants. Again, this is a great chance to check out some local companies. Many small businesses such as bakeries or boutiques may need help creating or running their social media pages. Some employees may like having extra hands on deck. Think about local photographers. Wouldn’t it be great for professionals to have an extra set of hands to set up props and position models? Right now, I intern at a magazine. My official title is a “media consultant,” and I assist with running social media pages, answering emails, and creating content.
Don’t forget about seasonal jobs
Technically, summer jobs count as seasonal jobs and many employers look to hire as business may bloom during the summer months. Lifeguarding and pool assistants are often seasonal jobs because pools are not open year-round (at least on the east coast!).
If you live in an area where there are farms, vegetable and fruit patches, or orchards, they may look for extra hands during picking seasons. During the holidays, check out your local Christmas tree farm or gift wrapping pop-up stand at the mall. To name a few more, look into beach resorts, amusement parks, historical attractions, and winter sports resorts.
Overall the job hunt is only as difficult as you make it. By understanding the documentation requirements and knowing what you are looking for, you can keep the process stress-free. It may take multiple applications and emails, but you will find what you are looking for. Good luck!
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