7 Summer Job Tips for Teens

By Christa Melnyk Hines

It’s a sweet sound when that final bell rings and school’s out for the summer. But rather than hanging out at the mall, many teens will be pounding the pavement seeking part-time work. Enterprising teens who take a creative approach to summer employment may find work easier to come by and more inspiring too.

“Teens who want to work should know that while retail jobs are on the decline, there is growth in part-time business service jobs which includes the online sector. It’s time for young adults to get prepared, check out the opportunities, and get out of the house to go after a position of interest,” advises job recruiter Renee Ward.

1. Tap an entrepreneur. Encourage your teen to explore her options by talking to family, friends and relatives, who may know of entrepreneurs seeking to hire summer help.

“Entrepreneurism has grown dramatically and it’s not solely attributable to people wanting to be their own boss. It’s coming out of necessity,” says Pam Dobies, a college business management instructor. “People are forced into finding ways to make money and forced to go out on their own to pick up a few extra bucks.”

Also, kids are wise to consider jobs that can evolve into interim work during the school year, a college internship or a full-time job after graduating college.

2. Learn about different industries. Alvin Tan, an international student and entrepreneur, says summer is a good time to take advantage of learning opportunities to explore interests. He recalls shadowing his parents, both financial planners, when they met with clients.

“Start when you are still young and have little commitment. Those are the best times to get involved and active,” says Alvin, who is in the process of starting several new businesses including an all-natural, biodegradable tableware made out of rice husk and tree sap.

3. Get creative. Lanie Dunn, a high school senior, channeled her entrepreneurial spirit by crafting artistic designs on shoes and donating the proceeds to a local animal shelter. While she continues to work out the marketing of her business, she takes pleasure in the creative process.

“I really enjoyed decorating these shoes for people. I saw how many people liked them and it made me happy to see them enjoy them. It’s a good feeling that people really like what you are doing, not only because of the cause, but because of what you created,” Lanie says.

4. Parlay tech skills. In addition to go-fer work and filing, seek opportunities with small, local start-ups looking for tech-savvy young people to help with the ins and outs of online social media like Twitter, set up and manage their business Facebook page, help facilitate email communication, or even blog for them about teen topics like fashion or area hotspots.

5. Sell your wares. Whether you design jewelry, artwork, kids clothing or dog attire, people spend money on unique products. Flea markets offer tables for free or for a small fee to vendors. If you can’t afford the fee, find a financial sponsor to cover the cost of the table. And, don’t just sell your products that day; give customers the opportunity to place orders to build your business after the event.

6. Help others. Offer services for aging baby boomers and busy families, like window washing, yard work, minor clean-up or errand-running, that they wouldn’t hire a full-time service worker to do. Dog-walking, pet-sitting and house-sitting can also be lucrative options. Teens can also use their skills to tutor younger kids in many areas – from teaching academics (math, reading or ACT prep) to helping a younger musician or athlete improve their techniques.

7. Think long-term. If your teen sets out on the entrepreneurial path, help him market himself, network and manage his image. Pam says teens should be mindful of the perception they’re communicating to potential customers and avoid burning bridges.

Suggest that your budding entrepreneur create an album or portfolio highlighting her products or services. She can ask clients to write comments to include in the portfolio. A portfolio can help your teen “show what a fabulous, reliable, productive and positive person (she is),” says Pam.

And if the first few attempts don’t go anywhere, encourage your teen to keep trying.

“Persistence is a requirement in order to be successful in this world,” Pam says. “...As well as integrity; we don’t have enough of that.”