The Best Summer Jobs for Teens

  • Are There Any Summer Jobs Left for Teens

    Under normal circumstances, students finishing up the school year would have their pick of internships and customer service jobs to earn some extra cash and experience during the summer months. Perhaps they’d send in a few applications online or visit the nearest mall to submit their resumes in person and soon enough they’d be working a 9-to-5 gig. But all that has changed. As bad as the job market has been for most Americans since the recession began, it has arguably been even tougher on teens, who are now forced to compete with millions of underemployed adults desperate to work any job at all, even the entry-level positions often designated for younger, less experienced workers. Fewer teens ended up with jobs during the summer of 2010 than any summer in more than 60 years, and according to one study released last month by the research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, job prospects this summer may remain grim, at least in the public sector. Budget shortfalls will likely force many state and local governments to cut back on hiring, and that means potentially fewer job openings at national parks, urban camps and government agencies, positions that often go to teens and young adults. But while public sector opportunities may be on the decline for teens, all signs point toward an increase in opportunities for private sector positions. “Private sector hiring has picked up in the past two months, which will certainly benefit teens this summer,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, who also notes that retail spending and consumer confidence are increasing as well. Those trends should also lead to hiring increases at many of the stores that typically employ teenagers. In fact, a greater percentage of companies plan to significantly increase their summer hiring this year (by 10% or more year-over-year) than any time since the recession hit, according to a survey of hiring managers by, a job search engine. So yes, the jobs are out there, but teens will still have to work for them. Photo Credit: a loves dc
    How to Land a Summer Job
  • How to Land a Summer Job

    In good times and bad, one rule holds true for teens looking for summer jobs: start early. “With the competition stiff for summer jobs, especially in a recovering economy, it's in the job seeker's best interest to seek out opportunities to engage with employers as early in the year as possible, thereby getting a jump on the rush of applicants that come in closer to the summer months,” said Daniel Greenberg, chief marketing officer of SimplyHired. Indeed, the data from the site’s recent survey found that the majority of hiring managers (roughly 55%) plan to fill their available summer openings in April or May, with just 14% saying they will have openings after that. Beyond that, teens need to be more aggressive when hunting for seasonal job opportunities. “It’s so crucial that even in this day of the Internet that teens go out and look face to face with people, meet them and talk with them,” Challenger said. And if teens really want to land a job, they must accept the possibility of rejection. “It’s hard enough for adults to get rejected from 10 or 15 positions, and it can be even harder for teens who aren’t used to it. They might want to give up after filling out only one or two applications, but they have to keep trying.” MainSteet spoke with several career experts to find some of the best companies and industries that will be hiring younger workers this summer. If you see a position you’re interested in, apply sooner rather than later, unless you want to spend the summer on the couch at home getting yelled at by your parents. Photo Credit: bpsusf
  • Lifeguards

    If you like being outdoors and know how to do CPR, you could spend this summer being a lifeguard at a public pool or gym. The number of available lifeguarding jobs has increased by 2% since June 2009, according to data from SimplyHired, while other popular outdoor opportunities including jobs at summer camps and theme parks have decreased by nearly 50% in that time. In fact, SimplyHired currently has about 1,000 lifeguarding positions posted on the site. These positions typically pay anywhere from $7-$11 an hour, which is better than what many summer jobs offer. Photo Credit: strollers
  • Restaurants

    Restaurant jobs have long been one of the leading options for high school and college students looking to make extra money during the summer, and this year will be no different. “Many teens will certainly end up working leisure and food services jobs this summer,” said Amanda Richardson, senior vice president of, a job site that focuses on hourly employment. “McDonald's, Chick-fil-A and others will all be busy.” McDonald's in particular may be a big source of teen jobs this summer as the company has planned to add 50,000 new hires to its payroll this month, some which Challenger says will undoubtedly be teenagers looking for entry-level work. Working at McDonald's or any other fast food restaurant may not exactly sound glamorous, but according to each of the experts we spoke with, it can be a surprisingly valuable point to add to your resume early in your career. “There’s a lot of credibility to working a front line job at McDonald's,” Richardson said. “It shows your ability to manage time, multitask, your commitment to work with others and follow through on obligations. It’s one thing to be president of your class, but it’s another to work at 6 a.m. and make money for the family.” Challenger puts it more bluntly. “Everyone started in a job like that,” he says. “It shows you are working rather than sitting around.” The pay at these jobs may vary, but according to McDonald's, the average salary of the new jobs will be $8.30 per hour. Photo Credit: avlxyz
  • Retail

    Retail is another sector that typically hires teens for seasonal jobs, both during the summer and the winter holiday season, and better-than-expected retail sales this year should boost the number of available positions this summer. “Retailers will be doing a bit more hiring than we’d thought,” Challenger said. Snagajob already has several job postings up for Kohl’s, Sears and other big chains for positions like cashiers and sales associates that are open to teens. These positions typically pay anywhere from $7-$12 an hour, depending on the store and one’s level of experience. Photo Credit: justj0000lie
    Vacation Jobs
  • Vacation Jobs

    As the economy continues to improve and consumer confidence increases, Challenger predicts that more Americans will treat themselves to a vacation this summer, which means hotels and motels around the country will likely need to hire extra staff to carry luggage and answer phones. Moreover, some tourist destinations will likely ramp up hiring as well. Richard says she has noticed several summer job postings for Disney World in particular on Snagajob, and more of these openings are catering to teenagers. “Traditionally, many of the positions at Disney World have been for an older set of workers, but now we’re seeing ticket taking and food cart opportunities for 16- to 18-year-olds,” Richardson said. Photo Credit: Alan Light
  • Volunteering

    For those students who are less interested in making money than getting the right experience and networking opportunities, volunteer jobs may be the best way to spend the summer. “Volunteering in the community produces contacts and leads that will be invaluable to a teenager’s future job search,” said Greenberg, from SimplyHired. “If you have the flexibility to work for low – or no – pay, volunteer positions can be a great way to learn new skills or maintain current ones if the opportunity is suited to your experience.” Greenberg notes that some nonprofits and volunteer organizations will actually train students in everything from grant writing to teaching, all of which can make the student a better candidate for paid jobs down the road. And there is clearly no shortage of volunteer opportunities. According to data from SimplyHired, there are currently just less than 15,000 volunteer listings on job sites around the Web. Photo Credit: vastateparksstaff
    Computer Programming
  • Computer Programming

    If teens are having difficulty landing any of these jobs, they might consider marketing their computer skills. If nothing else, most young people have superior computer skills compared to older Americans just by virtue of growing up with new technology. Challenger recommends that teens embrace their penchant for computers and offer their assistance to family friends and neighbors who may need basic assistance with installing software on their computer or defragmenting their machines. Teenagers may even be able to parlay their expertise with computers into an internship or full-time summer job in an office that needs extra employees to handle basic computing tasks and IT needs. “Computer programming and technology jobs are sometimes a place that teens don’t look at even though they have skills that are really quite valuable in the job market,” Challenger said. Photo Credit: sheilaellen
    Lawn Mowing
  • Lawn Mowing

    Sure, it may sound like one of the chores that your parents would assign you, but doing odd jobs in the neighborhood like mowing a neighbor’s lawn can also be a great way to make some extra money during the summer when other jobs are scarce. “A lot of teens really can’t commute that far, so it’s in your neighborhood or within a fairly close area that you are going to find work,” Challenger said. He encourages teens to take the initiative by offering to mow lawns, clean out garages and help with housework whenever possible. Some teens may even be able to find work with a company mowing lawns professionally for the summer if they’re interested. “I’m seeing a lot of hiring for professional lawn care this year for companies like TruGreen,” said Richardson, of Snagajob. But even with these openings, teens might be better off doing the same work for neighbors instead. As Richardson notes, “The nice part about doing lawn care in the neighborhood is the hours are flexible.”
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