Summer jobs for teens

Two young female students working in a community garden

Are you a teenager looking for work? This could be your lucky summer! There are many job openings in a wide variety of fields, and employers are motivated to fill jobs to maximize summer business – some are even paying higher wages that before the pandemic.

Some of the traditional types of summer jobs are most in need of workers, such as summer camp counselors, restaurant and cafe workers, lifeguards and other outdoor recreation staff, and retail workers – cashiers and salespeople.

Read on for more ideas about how to find job openings, how to apply and interview for jobs, and whether a youth employment program could help you.

Where can you find job openings?

Try these ideas for finding openings. If you won’t have access to a car to get to work, focus on the businesses and shopping areas that are within walking or biking distance of your home, or that are close to public transit lines.

  • Ask at your school and and local neighborhood centers if they keep lists of job openings.
  • Look for Help Wanted signs in your neighborhood and where you go shopping or eat out. If you see one at a place you’d like to work, walk in and ask to complete a job application.
  • Ask your family and friends if they know of companies that are hiring, or if there are more job openings where they work. If they give you an idea, follow up with a call or e-mail to ask about job openings, or stop in to fill out a job application.
  • Go to the Job Finder to search for job openings, include terms like “teen” or “summer” to narrow the list of openings.

Job application tips

  • Most jobs will require a job application form. Be sure to keep it accurate and neat. Put all your information together so you can quickly fill out job applications. More information on job applications.
  • For internships, you might need a one-page resume. A resume includes your name, home address, phone number and email address; any jobs you’ve had; volunteer experience and your school history. More information on resumes.
  • Create a list of work references who can confirm that you are reliable. Usually job applications ask for 1-3 references, and most young workers use teachers, coaches, or people you have volunteered or worked for. Important: Be sure to ask them before you list them as a reference. You will need their full name, email address, and phone number.
  • Most employers will require you to prove you have the right to work; learn about the basic work documents you may need to get hired.
  • Put in a lot of job applications, because even though employers need workers it’s still common to not hear back from applications or to get turned down. Look at this as part of the process; keep putting in applications and eventually, you will be very likely to get hired.
  • Employment laws are different for workers under age 16, so be sure to ask before you apply for a job if the employer hires people your age.

Job interviews

  • If you get a job interview, learn about the business and its products or services so you are ready to ask questions and show your motivation. Look up the company’s website online and make a note of a couple interesting facts.
  • In any interview, let the employer know that they can depend on you, that you have a way to get to work consistently, that you will show up to work on time every day ready to work, and that you are eager to learn.
  • If you have a choice of job opportunities, here are some things to consider in deciding which to take: the chance to learn skills or knowledge, the work environment and how well it matches you, the job’s value for your future goals – does it relate to a career you want to work in, or would it add to your college applications? Is one more convenient or does it have a better work schedule or pay?

Youth employment programs

Youth employment programs offer help with getting summer jobs and other work experience. Some programs are located in American Job Centers, and some are independent community programs. Find youth employment programs near you, and call, email, or stop in to ask about their summer programs and who is eligible.

  • Many offer services to anybody age 14 to 24, while others focus just on people whose family meets certain income limits, or who have a criminal record, or other challenges.
  • Youth employment programs may offer one type of job, such as planting trees or maintaining community gardens, or offer a variety of jobs, such as child care, assisting in a summer children’s program, IT and other office jobs, baking, and more.
  • Many youth employment programs include skill building, mentoring and supports for success in the workplace.
  • Some take applications in advance, while others may have openings throughout the summer.

Learn more about teen employment on GetMyFuture.

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