How to help your teen get a summer job

Summer’s here, and the time might be right for your teen to get a summer job. Perhaps you could help open up the doors of employment opportunity for him or her. For starters, share the insights in this article.

Help motivate teens by pointing out the valuable benefits a summer job may provide.

They could develop decision-making, organizational and social skills, plus work skills that will prepare them for college and a career. A summer job will also give teens an edge over other candidates applying for college.

Plus, a summer job offers teens a chance to gain greater confidence and a sense of responsibility, along with the feeling of being more financially independent. It provides them a chance to earn money to buy things they really want. They can also learn some fundamentals about money management, such as how to develop a budget that covers savings and spending. (A free teen checking account at Alliant is good way to help them learn how to take care of the money they earn.)

Here are 10 common teen summer jobs, as listed by Forbes magazine:

  • Lawn care 
  • Food service
  • Retail store sales
  • Life guard (if your teen is a strong swimmer and certified)
  • Golf caddy
  • Nanny or babysitter
  • Housekeeper
  • Camp counselor
  • Tutor for other kids (or adults) that need extra help
  • Internships (even if unpaid) or volunteer work

As the old saying goes, sometimes getting a job is all about the people you know. Teens should ask their family, neighbors and friends if they can provide leads and help grease the wheels toward finding a job. Teens can also use Facebook messages and tweets to spread the word that they are in the job market. They can create and pass out flyers or visit stores and ask employers whether they need summer help.

Another great resource is the Quintessential Careers website, which includes specific links to help teenagers find local summer jobs.

Most jobs require an interview. Teens should take these interviews very seriously and prepare for them. Here are some interview pointers:

  • Prepare a resume that includes any past work experience, school successes, extracurricular activity and community service.
  • Search the web to find out details about companies where they are interviewing. A teen should do a practice interview or two with a parent or other adult, especially if they've never had an interview before. Develop interview answers that indicate what they know and like about the company and show they have what it takes to be a great help there. Plus, be ready with an awesome answer if an interviewer asks “tell me about yourself.” Even if the interviewer doesn’t flat out ask this question during the course of the interview, teens should be prepared to tell the interviewer about themselves when the opportunity is right. 
  • On the day of the interview, the teen should get to the interview early. Smile. Give a firm handshake. Be enthusiastic. Maintain good eye contact. Dress appropriately (no jeans, even if the workplace itself is casual). Thank the interviewer for taking time out of his/her day. Follow up with an email or letter that demonstrates genuine interest in the job and how you would be a good fit.

Another consideration: Employers these days routinely check social media to find out more about job applicants. Teens should check their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts and delete any improper posts that may rub potential employers the wrong way.

Also be sure to check out state and federal labor laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets 14 as the minimum age for most non-agricultural work and a minimum wage of $4.25 an hour for employees under 20 years old (for the first 90 working days, then the wage goes up). Learn more about laws concerning teen jobs from the U.S. Department of Labor.

In many cases, a summer job is a smart investment in a teen’s future. The job could help pave the way to college and the path to a career. For instance, paid work or internships (even if unpaid) look great on college applications. “I loved jobs when I saw them on applications,” says Elizabeth Heaton, a college admissions consultant and former admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania. The experience demonstrates that students can show up on time, be responsible, do a job they’re hired to do and deal with adults they aren’t related to, she adds.

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