Be real. Literally any job you are lucky enough to get in high school is a good job. Earning your own money before you have to actually be “out there” on your own is good. Any kind of experience is good. But there are undoubtedly some jobs that are going to be better than others–for your resume, college applications, and personal satisfaction. Don’t settle for the job at Burger King until you’ve explored options in the fields that actually interest you!
Color Me Mine
There is a chain out there called Color Me Mine. They offer ceramics for patrons to paint that will then be fired in a kiln. It’s a do-it-yourself art studio. Working here would be a wonderful opportunity for anyone aspiring to a career in the art world. Interacting with kids having pottery painting birthday parties will give insight to what being an art teacher is like, mixing different glazes will give a hands on opportunity to actually learn artistic techniques, and selling different ceramic objects will even allow for a (limited) taste of the art-selling world.
Everyone has heard of Michael’s. They are everywhere. What you might not know is that employees over a certain age are often invited to participate in training to learn about different crafts or art supplies to relay to customers. Of course, there are also the typical clerk jobs, but even those allow you to be around art supplies and curious customers all day long. Although this is a retail job, it can certainly prove your dedication to the art world on your resume when paired with other artsy extracurriculars.
For Science Types
In my area, there is a science enrichment company known for hiring high school and returning college students. Employees teach elementary school kids–either during after school classes, camps, birthday parties, or weekend events–how to do fun science experiments like Elephant’s Toothpaste. Chances are there are places like this in your area. Check with your own teachers or anyone you know with younger children!
The Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California has a teen volunteer program that has the potential to turn into a job once enough experience has been accumulated. Many hands-on science museums have similar programs or special summer opportunities for high school students. Search through your local museum’s website for opportunities. Even if you don’t see anything, shoot the volunteer or special event coordinator an email– who knows, maybe they’ll create a position for passionate young scientists like yourself.
Yes. This is a retail job. However, it is a retail job where you are surrounded by books and will likely get an employee discount on the newest bestsellers. Interesting people are always hanging around bookstores and an encounter with one of just might inspire you to write your own Pulitzer-winning novel. For bonus points, get hired by a hip independent bookstore.
Pro-tip: publicly owned entities are ALWAYS looking for cheap forms of labor. Ask your favorite librarian if there are any assistant positions opening up. Emphasize that you are more than willing to work for minimum wage. This extends beyond the library, though. If you are lucky enough to live near a major city, check and see which publishing companies, newspapers, or magazines are based there. Chances are nothing will be posted on their websites, but send an email to the friendliest person you can find inquiring about any possible positions for teenagers.
For Athletes and Educators
Every recreation department to ever exist puts on summer day camps staffed by teenagers. Some are focused on sports, some on music, some on amateur detective work. These camps are great opportunities to hone your skills of instruction and prove that you are responsible. Being able to work with kids, who are often the world’s toughest customers, will enhance your resume and show that you actually know what teaching is all about. Keep an eye out for summer job fairs put on by the recreation department for any easy in.
Referees and Coaches
The same recreation camps previously mentioned often also put on mini-basketball and football leagues that are in need of semi-capable coaches. If you are interested in going into professional sports in any capacity, this will give you some insight into how coaching works. Soccer organizations are also always looking for referees who are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn to throw some red flags. They are notorious for hiring from within, however, so your best bet is to check with your own soccer league, if you play with one.
Jobs are hard to come by as a teen. A lot of the time, you will be tempted to just settle for a terminally boring job as a sandwich maker or order-taker. But look a little harder and you are sure to be rewarded with a job that matches your interests and pads your college application.