Everyone has to start somewhere, even a genius like Albert Einstein—he was a patent clerk, evaluating other people’s inventions, when he published his Annus Mirabilis papers and helped bring physics into the 20th Century. Your local patent office probably isn’t hiring, but if you’re ready to break free from the babysitting grind, there are lots of great opportunities for first-time job seekers.
One of the most popular jobs for teenagers is food service. In fact, flipping burgers at your neighborhood fast-food emporium is practically a rite of passage for high-school students. But if you’re not interested in sizzling beef, sugary sodas, and gooey cheese (or cheese-like substances), there are other ways to make an honest buck.
For example, consider applying for a job at your local library, community center, veterinary clinic, or day-care facility. All these businesses tend to hire teens, and a unique job will look great on your college application or resume. Don’t be shy about asking your parents for leads, either. Their offices might be looking for temporary clerical help, and it can’t hurt to have a letter of recommendation from an employee (even if that employee is your mom or dad).
If you like sports, you could also try out to be a youth baseball umpire or soccer referee. These jobs are fun and athletic, and they often pay better than you might think. If getting jeered by angry parents isn’t your thing, try your local golf course or swimming pool—just remember to bring sunscreen.
To cast an even wider net, take a look at your hometown newspaper’s classifieds section or job-search websites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com. You’d be surprised at how many positions are advertised as “entry-level” or “perfect for students,” and in some cases you can even apply online.
Finally, consider volunteering, particularly if your primary goal isn’t to put some cash into your pocket or save up for college. You’ll learn skills that will come in handy later in life, and the experience itself can be very rewarding. (It also looks great on a college application.) For help finding volunteer opportunities in your community, visit DoSomething.org, Volunteers of America, or local community centers and houses of worship.
No matter where you apply, make sure you read our helpful tips for writing a resume and interviewing. Good luck!