A guide to landing your first part-time job
Finding work when you are 15 isn’t easy, but many people begin working in their teens. Whether you need cash to help support your family, hang out with your friends or buy that new phone you’ve been eying, we’ll discuss some of the issues teen job hunters face, and some of your options.
When you’re 15, you fall into a grey area; some states allow you to apply without a worker’s permit, and others require it. Your best resource for determining what you will need is your school guidance counselor. They can tell you what the laws are in your state, and possibly even give you any forms you need to complete.
Learn more about Work Permits & Age Certificates at the U.S. Department of Labor.
Chances are this is your first job, but don’t leave “Prior Experience” blank on your applications if you can help it. List any odd jobs you’ve had, and school clubs, community groups or church organizations you’ve been a part of. You might not think that the experience was useful, but you’ve probably learned things like being a team player and successful attendance. If you’re struggling to find the right way to list your experience, ask a relative, teacher or mentor for advice.
If you are legally eligible for employment in your state, you can start applying. Cashier, stock clerk, bussers, prep cooks and other typical entry-level jobs are most often available in retail and restaurant businesses, but be sure to let your friends and family know you’re looking for work so they can keep an eye out for opportunities you might otherwise miss. (Future job hunting tip: this is called “networking,” which is a fancy way of saying “talking to people.”)
If you aren’t legally permitted to work, don’t feel like filling out a worker’s permit or decide not to enter the rat race just yet, you can always look into traditional first jobs. Lawn care, babysitting, paper routes, pet sitting and other tasks you can perform for neighbors are a popular way to start your career.
If you don’t urgently need the money, consider waiting. Sure, it would be nice to have a little extra cash, but you can always offer to mow someone’s lawn for $20 and then head off to the movies. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll be working for much of your life; if you don’t have to rush it, think twice before giving up your study time, social time and free time.
There are a lot of things to consider when you’re looking for your first job. Talk to your parents and your guidance counselor before you start applying, and make sure that the job you choose is right for this phase of your life.