Summer Jobs, Part Time Jobs, Leaving School, and Entering Real World

A lot of teens feel, quite rightly, that trying to find a job is like getting thrown off the deep end in a swimming pool before you learn to swim.

Not much makes sense, and what does, doesn't look too appealing.

Normal teen jobs fall roughly into two categories:

  • Summer job-type jobs. A job to make some extra money, usually on holidays, or spare time, while in school. These are mainly casual jobs, or the kind of job they seem to inflict on teenagers on principle, like fast food jobs, etc.
  • A job for survival, after leaving school, in whatever condition your qualifications happen to be. Jobs are survival mechanisms, and this can be a pretty rough, bumpy, introduction to the job market for some.


These jobs can be almost any entry level job, in any industry. They're usually a good, relatively peaceful, low pressure, introduction to the job market. You can pick up a lot of skills, fast.

Looking for jobs

Depending on your age, you're likely to be looking for local work, something convenient, that pays for the things you want. That's not always easy. We get literally hundreds of people on our Under 18 thread on the Forum who really have had some difficulties. There are quite a few ways of finding work, but you have to learn your way around the jungle.

Check out:

Local papers, internet ads.
Local job agencies. They can advise, at least.
Local businesses.
People and friends you know in the area; do a bit of networking
Local government- see if they have any work experience with pay, etc.
Community groups- these sometimes do hire new starters as part of their work.
Employers hire teens very much based on age. Unfair as it may seem, your age is thought to be some sort of indicator of your abilities. From about 16 onwards, you'll get some credibility with employers, but for younger teens, it can be a very frustrating experience.

IMPORTANT: A summer job or a part time thing in a shop may not look too impressive, but it gives you something very valuable: proven work experience.

That will matter a lot, a few years from now, when you're doing interviews for full time work, trying to prove your work history. You can also get references, and we can promise you, you will need them.

Shop around, see if you can find something you like, or something where you can see the skills and experience adding up to a future career. Another advantage of teenage jobs is you do get a good look at the realities of the jobs, and the work environment. You can pretty soon start making decisions about what you like and what you don't like.

There's a lot of people in this world who didn't get a choice what they found themselves doing for the rest of their lives. So take advantage of your age, because this is when you can go looking for a dream job in relative safety and security.


After leaving school, many teens could be forgiven for thinking they've arrived on another planet when they go looking for work. This can be a very steep learning curve. There are screening tests, work records, your entry-level CV, interviews, and everything but alien invasions. (Those come later, when you actually get a job.)

Start by learning the basics about interviews, CVs, and what employers are looking for in employees.

At entry level, it's slightly easier, because your skill levels aren't expected to be too developed.

(We can help with that. We have all the basic stuff you need to give you some pretty complete grounding in what you need to know. Our stuff is free, and you can always ask when you have a problem.)

Remember- Other teens want those jobs too, and this is a very, meaning ultra, competitive environment. This is where you need to be your own best friend.

You have a few assets: You probably do have some marketable skills which will get you a job. You will almost definitely have some sort of basic work record, which is enough for most teens.


Don't get lazy about looking for work. Try and find something good, but don't assume that you have unlimited choices, or unlimited time. A year or several can come and go so fast you have to read about it in the history books.

A work record full of more holes than jobs is a real liability.

You're not going to be 17 forever, and someone is going to wonder if two jobs in eight years, totaling three weeks' work, is really such a great recommendation, when you're 25.

A few basics about teenage jobs:

Pick your potential employers. If you know the people, you're a lot more likely to be considered a possible employee. Your parents will also be a lot less obstructive, for younger teens.

Pick your job. If you can find a job which will give you experience, skills, and money, it's a definite plus. Even the most basic casual job can be a goldmine of things you can use. Even better, if it's something you like, you can walk straight into what could turn out to be a great career. You can do yourself a lot of favors. So do them!

Play safe. Be cautious. Don't get casual about risks, either from places or from people. If you're not too sure about an employer, the work, the neighborhood, the people, or the job, if you're getting a really negative feeling, you're advised to avoid getting into a situation you already don't like. The bottom line here is don't get into situations you can't get yourself out of, instantly. This is a jungle.

Your parents aren't the enemy. If they object to a job, and you're not sure why, cut them some slack. There might be a reason, and it might be a good reason. After all, who was telling you that you should get a job?

Check out your commuting, and your times. You can run yourself into the ground, if you have to travel long distances. Even teenagers need sleep. If it involves traveling all over in the middle of the night, expect some flak from anyone who cares about you.

Watch your money. Teenage wages aren't famous for their generosity. Stash some money away so you know you have some when you need it.

Don't do anything dumb. The most pointless, and potentially damaging, thing that can happen is that you lose a job, for no particular reason. What's seriously wrong with that situation is that you can find that lost job showing up again, when it's a job you really want, and you have to give someone your work history. Just stay cool, find a reason for moving on, if you have to, but don't add extra problems to the mix.

For unskilled teens: GET THOSE SKILLS! Don't just wait for a miracle. You may be waiting for a very long time. The job market may be a lot of things, but it's never been called a great place for mindless optimism. Start finding ways of making your job search a way of getting skills, and fill in the blanks in your existing skills by getting some training, preferably quickly, and affordably.

Where does this get you, you may ask?

Do it right, do the summer jobs, do the part time work, get the skills, and it can take you anywhere.

Literally, anywhere.

Think about it.

Then do it.