Ah, summertime, a three-month celebration of slacking. That is, if you don't have a summer job.
Still, with a job comes money, and with money comes freedom, and most teens do eventually get a job. About 58 percent of teens ages 16 to 19 get a summer job or at least look for one, according to a 2002 U.S. Department of Labor survey.
But if you wait until school's out to go looking, it may be too late -- most of the coolest jobs are snatched up before the summer even starts.
Not sure how to go about finding a job? There are plenty of resources, from career centers to school counselors.
Here are some tips:
Look for a job
- Sift through classified ads and search for help-wanted signs. Also, check you community's career centers. Most have a youth specialist.
- Look for job fairs.
- Check out your high school career center for jobs and paid internships. These are positions for which employers are certain to hire teens for the summer.
- Tell everybody that you're looking for a job -- neighbors, family friends, coaches, any adults. They might know of an opening, and they can help you get your foot in the door.
- When thinking about where to apply, make sure the work is suited to you. If you're outgoing, you'd probably have a better time working in customer service than in a cubicle.
- Remember, it never hurts to apply. If there's a job you'd love, go in and ask for an application, even if there isn't a hiring sign in the window. The worst they can say is "no."
Make a good impression
- Remember that the interview process starts when you ask for an application. The potential employer will notice how you present yourself. Show off how you would be an asset to him or her.
- Dress for an interview when you pick up the application. Not only will this help make a good first impression, the manager may interview you on the spot -- and if that happens, you can't go home and change.
- Be serious and respectful. Don't walk in laughing and messing around, then ask for an application. You are being judged, so be mature and act like someone who would be a great employee.
- Go alone. When friends arrive together, employers are likely to view them as too social and not mature enough for a job. Remember, they're hiring employees, not friends.
- If you want to work in a store, pick up your application when it's not busy. Ask for a manager and introduce yourself; you'll have a better chance of getting an interview.
Fill out an application
- You've passed the "first interview" -- asking for the application. Now, on to filling it out -- not easy without real work experience. Even so, there are ways to show off your skills.
- How can you prove that you'd be a good employee if you have no experience? That can be the hardest part of all this. First, list your skills and interests -- sports, shopping, video games, etc.
- On your application, make sure to list all your interests and abilities. Things such as speaking a second language might not seem special to you, but they help you stand out.
- Don't forget to add non-work experience. Volunteering is good, but participating in cultural groups and clubs shows that you have dedication and can put things together.
- Take time filling out the application. Don't abbreviate, don't use pencil and write as neatly as possible. Facing a stack of applications, employers may trash the poorly written ones.
- Make a list of your references with their complete contact information. Fold it up and take it everywhere. Faulty contact information is a job-hunting kiss of death.
- Once you've impressed potential employers with your skills on paper, it is time to wow them in person. The interview can present a whole new set of questions and issues.