Students & Teens: Tips for Summer Job Search – Part 1

For the last couple of years, my husband and I have been counseling our oldest child about the daunting job search and job application process. Of course, we want him to appreciate the value of work and the cash thus earned but we also want him to start learning some of the skills necessary in the workplace.

So, as his school year comes to an end and as we have been reissuing our tips and recommendations about the summer job search process, I thought that I’d put it writing to share, should you also have a job-searching teen at home. You might find some of the following tips and guidelines useful to share with your own teen(s) and so this is written for them.

There is so much advise and tips to cover in this conversation that we've made it a three part series. We'll begin today with “Where to look for a summer job”, followed by “Getting the documents in order” i.e. the résumé, business cards (yes, really), etc. and then will polish it all off with “Getting ready for the interview” tips and recommendations.

Where to start looking for a summer job

Looking for a job is not easy at any age, but when you are a teen, it’s more intimidating because you’ve probably never done it before or just don't have much practice at it. And, you probably don’t have that much to brag about in terms of work experience. Here’s a secret: at your age, attitude is everything. And though it’s not quantifiable on a résumé, your positive, can-do attitude can be felt and seen by potential employers and that is worth its weight in gold. If the good attitude is there, they know they can train you on the rest. So, with that said, here are some tips, most of them focusing on how to start looking for the type of job that you might find to be more enriching than just taking orders at your local fast food joint.


Start with thinking about what you would – ideally- want to do and ask yourself these basic questions:

  1. What do I want to do? What am I good at? What am I really-really good at? What am I passionate about? Figure out where this passion and these skills could really come in handy to an employer. For example, are you really good at Photoshop and Illustrator? If so, you might want to approach some graphic design firms or printing studios to see if they need extra help over the summer…  that type of thing.
  2. Do I like working with little kids (think jobs as camp counselors, city recreation departments, museums)? Do I like working with the public (think retail, restaurants)?
  3. Is there an industry, type of business or field that I would really like to explore? Perhaps you can get a paid internship to explore different career choices later on. Do you like animals, where you thinking of becoming a vet? If so, speak with your local veterinary clinic to see if they have any openings this summer.


Once you have figured out your preferences, set them as your prime target for your initial search. Remember that most jobs are not advertised. You have to hunt for these opportunities and perhaps even create them. It’s definitely more work than simply applying for a job at your local fast food restaurant, but it will most probably be a job that you will enjoy MUCH more and that will be more satisfying. So go get psyched up, because you’ll have to get ready to call and visit these businesses (we’ll give you the tips on how to do this next week).

  • You will want to look at businesses in your area. Open up the yellow pages book and identify companies that you would like to approach. Make a list with the address and phone numbers of all businesses of interest to you.
  • You will also want to look at all your contacts and parents contacts. That's called “networking” and you'll have to do a lot of that as an adult to advance your career, so you might as well get comfortable with it now. Do any of your contacts have businesses or work in some industry that might be of interest to you? If so, add their names to the list.
  • Craigslist: local employers and small businesses are more likely to list their jobs here. Search for the “student” and “summer” keywords in your area. You can also select to search by internship and part-time jobs.
  • Lastly, here are some websites that we liked that specialize in listing summer jobs for teens & students:

So, deciding WHERE to go look for a job is the first part of the job-of-looking-for-a-job. Yes, it is a job to look for a job. But again, this is great training for you later on. You will always need this skill. Try not to get too frustrated by the process. And, think of it this way, you are already miles away from other candidates who did not give any thought or, more importantly, implemented strategy to their summer job search.

Early next week, Part 2 of this series will give you tips on writing your résumé and other relevant materials. Part 3 will provide tips on how to prepare for the job interview.

Stay tuned.

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2 Responses to Students & Teens: Tips for Summer Job Search – Part 1

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