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16 Last-Minute Tips to Help Your Teen Find a Summer Job

It’s getting late in the summer, and your teen still needs a job. Here’s a simple plan to help you and your teen find 6-8 weeks of summer work.

1) Agree with your teen to be job-search buddies. You will have different roles but you’ll work together. Almost everyone likes working with a buddy, once they get used to it.

2) Make your teen’s job search a fun project. If it’s a project, you can play it like a game. A project has a goal, a beginning and end, and it’s easy to grasp.

3) Figure out on a map what distance he can walk or drive to and call that your search area. Maybe it’s southwest Brockton, the part he can walk to. The two of you now “own” this territory.

4) Create a list of the businesses in your search area your teen could call on. You two buddies can buy a list of businesses from your town clerk for a couple bucks, or pick up a free list from a realtor (moving-in spouses use them), or online at the MA Department of Unemployment Assistance (clunky to use but excellent data).

5) Skip all businesses where teens usually apply: ignore retail, all malls, all grocery, all food service and restaurant, churches, and charities with a high profile. Avoid businesses teens see. Aim for businesses (not banks) that serve other businesses, and might have clutter, or tools or parts or something in disarray, or records or archives that need attention. These companies are your “market."

6) Have your teen write down her skills and interests while looking at these business names together, and talking peer-to-peer. Use the business list to stimulate your conversation. Dig deep. You should mention any activity you ever saw her do well, or which she did better than other kids. Your teen should think of anything she did that she enjoyed or made her proud, even projects in fourth grade, or on standardized tests. The skills and interests she lists are her “product.”

7) Draft up in Word or similar a 3-1/2 x 11 push card to leave behind, just like a politician. Not a resume, just a slim, light-weight paper pushcard. This is his Sales Rep on the Shelf. It works while he’s not there.

8) On the pushcard put: His picture, simple contact information, bullets of his skills and interests that might spark interest in a small businessperson’s heart, kinds of work he’d like to do, availability (right away, days of the week, until some date; willing to work weekends, evenings, anything special), church membership, subjects he’s good at in school, anything that will catch attention (“good grades in Spanish or physics”).

9) Print up two dozen copies or have a quick-printer like Staples print them, and call it your first draft. Agree to improve it using everyone’s questions or reactions. The hidden value of this is that even getting a “No” might produce feedback on your card, so it will get better. Ask “Nos” for referrals to their friends, then follow up promptly and thank the referrer!

10) Create a simple pitch and rehearse it 10 times. First she should walk up to your own doorway, with you well behind her, and practice saying her pitch. Praise her for everything she does well. This is scary the first time, but it will work fine with practice, just like sports. Does Steph Curry quit when he misses a basket?

11) Grab a clipboard (“Never go anywhere without something in your hands”) holding your list of companies and most of the pushcards, then head out.

12) Before going to the first business, guess together how many calls you will have to make to get a half-summer long job (or two). Share your guesses and make it a game.

13) Visit the businesses. Your teen walks in, introduces himself, and says his name and age, and lives nearby, and that he’s is looking for work for the rest of the summer, and is willing to work hard and do anything that needs doing, especially in his strengths (sorting, organizing, picking up, errands, whatever). Go with him for the first handful of calls, and let him do all the talking. Afterward debrief what happened, non-critically.

14) Analyze what happened returning from your first walk. Discussing what happened makes projects successful.

15) Once she’s done a few good intros, let her go by herself. Make sure to listen with interest when she gets home. Say that from here on you can only see what is happening through her words and descriptions, and you are looking forward to hearing her report of what happens.

16) Reporting back to you as her buddy will keep her from getting depressed and feeling lonely. Reporting and discussing are buffers against discouragement.

The worst that can happen is that you and your teen will spend time together as a team, walking, talking, meeting new people in your area, discussing work and workplaces and the people you meet. Even this exposure is training. If there is part-time or full-time summer work out there, you will find it!


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