Help wanted: How your teen can find a summer job they love

Young African American man fixing a bicycle at a repair shop

Tips to help guide your teen into a job they love.

If your son or daughter has only a vague idea of doing “something” this summer, all hope is not lost: there’s still time for them to find a summer job they’ll enjoy. Here are practical tips — a combination of old-school meets digital — to help guide your teen into a job that may be exciting today and possibly into the future.

Activate your network

Most opportunities materialize from who you know. Help your student think of adults in their lives who could be potential job connections — neighbors, high school counselors, coaches, parents of friends, members of their religious community, teachers.

“I coached a student who dreamed about opening her own juice smoothie shop,” recalls Crystal Olivarria, a career coach at “She approached a friend’s father about working in one of his bagel stores. The father was impressed because usually parents ask for jobs for their teenagers; she was the first teenager to ask for a job.”

Additional tip: Don’t just rely on your network. Help your student realize their network, then encourage them to ask about opportunities.

Go digital

They’re on their smart phones anyway, so encourage them to do some online research. Many students find jobs via social media or on company websites. Companies may be looking for employees on local job boards, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other platforms. Encourage your teen to do a little digging about summer work on the web. They may be able to submit a few applications online, instead of walking door to door and asking for one.

Additional tip: If your student is searching for jobs online, make sure they clean up their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts before applying. Since they aren’t applying in person, the hiring manager may look them up online.

Explore internships

While internships are typically associated with college, more and more high school students are snagging them. Internships are a great opportunity for your teen to learn whether a certain profession or industry is right for them.

Just be realistic about applying for internships as a high school student. “I see a lot of high school students who devote a substantial amount of time applying for internships that they’re clearly not qualified for, and then they burn out with all of the effort,” says Colleen Paparella Ganjian of DC College Counseling, LLC.

Additional tip: Make sure your student isn’t only considering summer internships. Make sure they continue to apply for more traditional gigs as well.

Think outside the box

Creative son or daughter? Help him or her open an store. No car to get to a job? Encourage them to put a flyer in the mail offering their services around the neighborhood, for tasks like pet sitting, yard work, or other odd jobs. Or suggest your teen volunteer for the summer — they may not be earning money, but it will be a good resume booster and networking tool.

Additional tip: Encourage your student to explore, share, and monetize their talents.

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