Lifeguard, camp counselor, or dog walker—whatever first job she’s dreaming of probably seems so exciting and fun. She’ll meet new people, get to try her hand at new skills, and earn some extra cash that can help pay for summer fun or be put toward her college education. Sweet! But before she can reap the rewards of her summer job, she has to get one first. Here’s how to help her get started:
Help her come up with a list
We all know that not all work is fun, but wouldn’t it be great if she could get a summer job she loved or could help her explore a career field she may be interested in? Sit down with her and help her figure out her strengths and interests. Maybe she already makes a mean sundae and would love to learn how to churn a batch of ice cream. Perhaps she can program the household electronics without glancing at a manual and would love to help others with their tech issues. Helping her figure out what she’d be interested in and what she’s already good at will narrow her search.
The next step is logistics. If she can’t drive just yet, make sure you both agree on how she’ll get to this new gig. If she needs to take public transit, help her see how that cost impacts her take-home salary. Distance will also help narrow down the list of potential employers. As she identifies possibilities, have her write up a list of options with the website, email, and phone number of each place.
Teach her to network
You might think her network is small at the moment, but she knows more people than you think! Explain to her that networking is basically reaching out to people you have relationships with who would be willing to vouch for her. She should let teachers, neighbors, friend’s parents, Girl Scout troop leaders, and coaches know she’s on the job hunt. You never know who might know of the perfect gig.
Make sure she asks a few trusted adults in her circle if they would be OK with being her reference—but don’t limit her list to just grownups! Even peers about her age that already have jobs can put in a good word to their bosses if they think your girl could be a fit.
Write a perfect resume
Believe it or not, she should have a resume handy even if this is her very first summer job. Just like any professional resume, it should start with her name and contact information at the top, list her grade and the school she currently attends and any prior “starter” jobs (e.g., babysitting, plant watering, dog walking). She can then list any extra curricular activities that will enable the reader to get to know her and some responsibilities she’s taken on. Sit down with her and have her write down any special awards or achievements she’s received through school or in the community. Make sure she’s not humble or shy! Did she get a perfect attendance certificate last year? That’s going to let employers know she’s reliable! Was she on student council? That shows awesome leadership!
Also have her think about what experience she has that’s related to the job she’s applying for. If she’s taken classes, earned a certificate, or even worked a badge in Girl Scouts that gave her relevant skills, make sure that’s included in her resume. These are the details that could go in a cover letter or email to her potential boss that will set her apart from the crowd and give her an edge when it comes to getting the perfect summer job!
Put herself out there
Encourage her to either stop in to a few places to pick up applications or call to see if they’re looking for help. It’s best if she approaches the hiring manager or whoever’s handling applications herself—having a parent or caregiver ask on her behalf doesn’t exactly make your girl seem independent and capable! Larger chain stores (and some mom and pops) use online job applications, so have her ask about that as well.
To make sure she’s on point and professional when she starts putting out feelers, do a test run or two at home where you role play the manager and she gets to perfect her introduction, handshake, and practice any questions she’d like to ask.
If she’s applied to a few places and hasn’t heard back after a week or so, encourage her to follow-up by letting managers know that she’s still interested and looking forward to learning more about the possibility of working with them.
Nail the interview
Once she gets a few applications out there, she might be asked to meet for a job interview. Talk to her about the purpose of an interview (it doesn’t mean she has the job yet!) and be sure to let her know that a job needs to be a fit for both the employer and employee.
Before the interview, she should make a list of questions she’d like to ask about the job besides just how much it pays! Perhaps she wants to ask about mentorship opportunities or even ask the manager what she likes about her own job, which can tell you a lot about the working environment. She should also think of answers to the questions they’re likely to ask her, such as why she wants the job, what are her biggest strengths, and why she would be the best choice for the job.
On the day of the interview, she should dress neatly, professionally, and appropriately for the job—there’s no need to wear a suit if she’s up for a job at the local comic book store, but wearing a clean, slightly dressier than usual outfit is always a good bet.
After the interview, encourage her to send a thank you email or note card to the person she met with. It might seem old-fashioned, but being polite and taking the time to follow up show professionalism and will remind the team of what a great candidate she is.
Set her expectations
Getting a job isn’t always easy! Some larger corporations aren’t allowed to hire part-time, or don’t have roles appropriate for students. Other companies and local shops may already have all the staff they need. But let her know that “no” shouldn’t stop her in her tracks. If a potential employer says she’s not the right fit or that they don’t have anything right now, tell her to thank them anyway and ask that they keep her name on file for the future. They may not call her back, but it will give her firsthand job-hunting experience that will give her confidence in the years to come.
A wonderful problem
But what if she gets more than one job offer? In that case she should respond graciously and thank the managers for their offers and then ask if she can have a day or two to get back to them. Compare location, hours, and pay, along with the job responsibilities to figure out which one will be the best fit. Once she chooses one, let her know that she needs to let any other establishments that made offers know that while she’s flattered by their offer she is taking another job.
Creating positive and professional job searching habits will stick with your girl well into adulthood!
Help her work through her feelings and find fun everyone can join in on.