Getting my work permit once I turned sixteen was one of the most exciting moments for me in high school. That little paper meant I could work, and working meant financial freedom (okay…not really). As one of those kids who never received allowances, this was an opportunity for me to get my own spending money and not having to explain every single purchase I made to my mom. I quickly realized after receiving one of those papers, however, that getting a summer job is quite difficult. Looking for some ways to learn from my experiences and land yourself a job? Check ’em out:

Start Looking Early and Expand Your Search
And by start looking early, I mean right now. Like, after you’re finished reading this article, start looking. Most stores, restaurants, and other establishments start looking for summer employees at the beginning of spring and around spring break. Unless they explicitly say that they are looking for part-time employees (look around store fronts, windows, or signs outside the place), they will most likely say that are not currently looking, but are accepting applications.

If you do not know where to start looking, here are some places to look that are more likely to hire high school student workers. If this list does not fit where you live, ask around other students or older students with their experiences and where to look:

  • Grocery stores (Bagging, Cashier)
  • Clothing stores (Especially stores who market towards high school students such as American Eagle, Delias, etc.)
  • Fast food restaurants (Subway, McDonalds, etc.)
  • Local places (country clubs, swimming pools, YMCA, etc.)

Get Personal: Talk to the Manager or Person in Charge of Hiring
Once you filled out your applications, the next step is to hand it back to the store. Ask to see the person in charge of hiring and handle them the application so they can see who you are and possibly make a good impression. That’s actually how I landed my Subway job for my junior summer. On my way to school, I stopped by in the morning to drop off the application and the hiring manager happened to be there. After I handed in the application, small talked, and thanked him, I received a call a couple days later saying that he would like to interview me.

Another pro tip: make sure you’re dressed the part when going into a potential workplace, even if it’s just to drop off an application. Wearing one of those “Chicks Dig Me” shirts (with an arrow pointing down towards…well, you know…) and denim cutoffs leaves a bad impression. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Cast a WIDE Net
I remember going to almost every store in my mall asking for an application. Nothing is guaranteed so to have the most chance of getting a job this summer, ask for applications and opportunities at as many places as you can. I had to learn to not be picky with where I wanted to work, especially if this was going to be my first job. Your first job will help open doors for your second and subsequent jobs. My Subway experiences and skills actually immediately secured my job at the local country club’s pool snack bar/gate guard position during my high school senior summer.

All in all, getting a minimum wage summer job was one of the most valuable experiences I have had with working so far. My Subway job was my first step towards learning about how to handle my own money and working/deal with strangers on a daily basis. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and I definitely learned more than I would if I was just laying around at home. Find the experiences and skills you can gain from any job. It doesn’t have to be fancy or impressive to make a meaningful and important impact on your life.

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