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Tips for Finding Teen Summer Jobs

It’s getting late for finding summer work and your teen still needs a job. Here’s a clear plan to help you and your teen find one.

  1. Agree with your teen to be job-search buddies. You will play 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. Plan to work with your teen, not for your teen.

  3. Use a map to figure out the area he can cover on foot, by bike, car or public transportation (depending on access to these options) and call that your search area. 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 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 has excellent data). These companies are your “market."

  5. Identify businesses that employ the most teens. Large Massachusetts grocery stores like Market Basket hire lots of summer workers, including teens as young as 14. Grocery stores usually treat teen applicants politely. Start here; you might get lucky!

  6. Next, identify businesses that few teens think of as employers. Aim for lower-profile businesses (not banks) that serve other businesses. Consider any companies that might have clutter, mechanical parts, or something in disarray, or records or archives that need attention. Consumer services like gyms, YMCAs, salons, clinics, dance studios, churches, and rental real estate constantly need cleaning and organizing.

  7. Have your teen write down her skills and interests while the two of you look through your business names together[c1] . Use the business list to stimulate your conversation. Dig deep. You should mention any activity you ever saw her do well. Your teen should think of anything she did that she enjoyed or that made her proud, even projects in fourth grade, or on standardized tests. The skills and interests she lists are her “product.”

  8. Draft 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, lightweight paper push card. This card is your teen’s “salesperson.” It helps your teen get hired even when he’s not present.

  9. The push card should include her picture, simple contact information, bullets of her skills and interests that might spark interest in a small businessperson’s heart, kinds of work she’d like to do, availability (right away, days of the week, until some date; willing to work weekends, evenings, anything special), church membership, subjects she’s good at in school, anything that will catch attention (“good grades in Spanish or physics”).

  10. Print up two-dozen copies at home or have a quick-printer like Staples print them and call it your first draft. Use employers’ questions or feedback to improve it. The hidden value of this is that even getting a “no” might produce feedback on your card, so you two can make it better. Ask prospects who said “no” for referrals, then follow up promptly and thank the referrer!