Teens for Hire: Finding the Best Summer Job


To some teens summer vacation is lounging poolside in the sun. To others, it’s about making money.

A summer-time job can definitely put some cash in your teenager’s pocket, add work experience, provide insight into career likes and dislikes and build his or her resume.  

Why Parents Want Kids to Work

A summer job offers lifelong skills, too. From a parent’s perspective, here are three key reasons to encourage your child to get a summer job, according to Dana Manciagli, career coach and author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job.

  • Accountability: Kids learn accountability from being on time to delivering high-quality work.
  • Teamwork: Teens learn to develop the skills to work with others. They’ll experience working with a diverse set of customers and being open to all different styles.
  • Money management: Teaches kids how to earn, collect and save money.

Finding Unique Jobs

Most teens want to do something different when it comes to a summer job. However, “unique” isn’t always the best for teens, cautions Manciagli. She suggests thinking “best” instead. The “best” job would be one that enables your child to gain skills, as well as one that could impact his resume.

Now if your child insists on something different, there are unique jobs to be found.  Think outside the typical retail outlet or restaurant. Look into seasonal jobs in your geographic region, says Dr. Nicole Runyon, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, MSA, PhD, human resource expert and organizational leader. Farmers will hire teenagers to pick and process fruits. In the entertainment industry, summertime provides job opportunities such as outdoor concert ticket takers, event security, amusement park workers and tour guides.

Encourage your teenager to brainstorm about other industries that are busy during the summer months. June, July and August are busy wedding months. Could your daughter help a local photographer, banquet facility, wedding planner or florist?

Construction, remodeling and building are other fields with a demanding summer season. As the warm weather enables more work to be accomplished before winter sets in, laborers are often needed on job sites.

Dr. Runyon suggests another approach. Delve into your child’s hobbies. If he’s passionate about cars, start visiting dealerships, repair shops and other venues related to the car industry. For musicians and athletes, look into instructor positions/counselors at summer camps offering activities geared toward his talents.

Start a Small Business

Working for someone else provides only one path in finding a summer job. Starting a business could be the road your teen takes. Some simple ideas to jump-start the entrepreneurial spirit include:

  • Lawn care/yard work
  • Resell items (eBay/Craigslist)
  • Housecleaning
  • Pet sitting
  • Tutoring

Other small business ideas could be teaching technology skills to senior citizens, especially if your child has an interest in computers, suggests Runyon. These services could include teaching computer skills, Internet searches, Skype and FaceTime basics and social media know-how.

One local teenager found a way to make extra money with her computer skills by helping a mom-of-two toddlers who is a direct marketing representative. Weekly, the teen inputs client data into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for the young mom.  

Solving a problem is another direction to take when starting a business.  Local entrepreneur Lani Lazzari, CEO and founder of Simple Sugars and Shark Tank success story, created her all-natural skincare because she needed products for her ultra-sensitive skin and to relieve eczema.  Lazzari, now 20 with a multi-million dollar company, had a growing e-commerce business when she was 13-years-old.  

Unsure of a current problem that needs to be solved? Pull in the help of others. Talk to neighbors, says career coach Manciagli. Go door-to-door and ask. Have your son use his abilities as a topic to jumpstart the conversation. Urge note taking as those are future customers.

Don’t forget about community leaders, recommends Dr. Runyon. Set up a meeting to start a dialogue with them.

Let’s Get Started

Thinking about a summer job starts now—before the end of the school year.

Finding a job locally can start with family, friends and neighbors. Have your teen let everyone know he’s looking for a job. In addition to the traditional ways to apply for a job, don’t forget to post on social media, too.

Now, if your teen has decided to start his own business, he’ll need to think about acquiring customers.  To market his business, post flyers on bulletin boards and store fronts in your community. (Be sure to get permission first.) Going door-to-door in surrounding neighborhoods with business flyers will draw customers, too. Take advantage of social media. Career coach Manciagli recommends posting on www.NextDoor.com, a web site that helps teens advertise what they can do.  

The Starting Line

Whatever route your teen takes for his summer job, view it as the starting line for his career and future ahead.

Mj Callaway, CSP, local author and mom-of-two, coaches others on how to sell themselves.