Help wanted: Sales associate at Wizard Toys, must be sixteen to apply.
When I was in high school this was the first non-babysitting job I applied for. I put on a skirt, walked to the mall, and filled out an application. I stood and waited patiently as the owner read my completed paperwork. Finally, she looked me and asked, “So, why do you think I started this business?”
After a few seconds I answered, “Because you know that kids love to play with toys?”
She frowned and responded, “No, I’m in business to make money. You don’t own a business unless you believe you are going to make money. Sorry, but I can’t hire you.”
I walked out a little shell-shocked, but the experience provided quite the lesson! Only years later did I realize her answer was missing a huge piece of the puzzle.
Every business needs to make money to survive and thrive, but if you despise what you’re doing or only are vaguely interested in the work or product, it’s an uphill battle to be successful. (BTW, Wizard Toys went bust three months after I applied for the position.) I also realized that I didn’t want to work for anyone who cared so much about money that customer service, quality, kindness toward employees were secondary to the pocketbook. Those things effect the bottom line too.
So, here are some tips:
1. Know what your interests are and be clear on what you want to do. Don’t apply for a position you know you won’t enjoy for long. If you hate cooking and cleaning at home, you won’t enjoy working at McDonalds or a fancy restaurant.
2. Think outside the box. Use your skills. My elder son Justin combined his computer and creative skills to start a business putting together DVDs for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, anniversaries. He also scanned old photos and slides and created a DVD from them. Sometimes he added music and graphics. His business expanded to producing highlight DVDs for HS students seeking athletic scholarships.
Several YA I have met through Twitter have utilized their creative skills and have quite a following online. Take a look at Vania’s work at http://www.vlcphoto.net/ http://www.vlcphoto.net/. Her book trailers are extraordinary! I deeply admire her work and talent. Another YA who has an amazing eye for photography is Briana. She sells her photographs online: http://bcmphotography.redbubble.com/works
What can you do?
3. Make a good first impression. Have a resume ready if you have one. If you can, apply in person (not during peek business hours!) and hand your application to the manager. Dress decent (slacks and a nice shirt/top), smile, look the person in the eye, say thank you, use a firm handshake. Tattoos and piercings have become more and more commonplace, but know your employer. Remove piercings or cover tattoos if you believe the company will respond negatively, or apply elsewhere if that makes you uncomfortable.
4. Put in as many applications as possible. Don’t wait to hear from one before you look for other job openings.
5. Use as many connections as possible. Tell friends/family/teachers/neighbors your interests and see who might have a lead for you. If you get a referral and you make a cold call, make sure you tell the person who suggested you contact him.
6. Be open to the possibility of an unpaid internship as an in to a company. If you do great work, you may get hired permanently.
7. Maybe an out-of-state relative owns a business and would be interested in summer help? This might be a great opportunity to experience something new. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
8. Check churches, synagogues, YMCAs, JCCs, public schools to see if they are hiring teens to work at camps or summer programs. (I was a paid tutor for the city of Milwaukee and worked at various libraries teaching kids to read.) Some municipalities hire extra help during the summer to cut public lawns, groom public parks, lifeguard at public pools and beaches.
For additional tips check out: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/teenstudentgrad/a/teenjobsearch.htm