What Every Teen Ought to Know About Part Time Work

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Decide to work at least during the summer if not during the school year

You will be in great shape if you get through college with a zero net worth.

This would mean you don’t owe anything, but you don’t own anything either.  Even better would be if you made it out of school with no debt and owned (completely paid for) something like a car.

teen work

The value of work

Think of your financial life as if you were swimming in the ocean.  A decent goal until you finish college is to tread water.  You’re not really going anywhere or apparently making any financial progress, but you are not drowning either.

Most people spend those college years piling up school and vehicle debt so they sink deeper and deeper into debt.

So how do you tread water in college?  Get a job. Here’s what to do with your first pay check

But, “I need to devote yourself to your studies”.

Be sure this is not an excuse.

In life, you will rarely have the opportunity to devote yourself exclusively to something.  Before you know it, you will be a spouse, parent, employee, church member, and volunteer.  Life is about learning to balance those priorities, not simply choosing which you wish to have.  Working while you are in school will teach you that important lesson as well as give you a little extra cash.  By the way, if you didn’t have a job do you really think you would lock yourself in the library instead of hanging out with your friends?

Get a job.

To get you started I’ve suggested the 50 best part time jobs.  If you’d rather work for yourself you can see how to start your own summer business.

Here are ten things to help you get and keep a job

  1. Improve your wardrobe.  Sure your friends might think it is cool to prance around with ripped jeans and faded T-shirts.  However, when you go to drop off application forms wear something like khakis and a button down shirt.  Thirty seconds is all you have to make your first impression.
  2. If you have scheduling limitations, tell your boss up front when you will and will not be able to work.  This may cost you your job, but it will help you get a job that you will like and your boss will be happy with.
  3. Tell friends at school and people at your church that you are looking for a job.  Some companies offer a referral bonus if a friend joins so they might be happy to give you the information you need.  There might be someone at church who is looking for a worker.  The Utah Job Connection suggest the following ways to find a job: networking, employment centers, businesses, government offices, schools, internet, and newspapers.
  4. Smile and say ‘no problem’ when you are asked to do something you don’t like doing.  Employers are looking for workers who have a good attitude and good work ethic.  Promotions and raises are rewarded to those who show both of these characteristics.
  5. Be willing to say no to your friends or ask them to reschedule.  If you make a habit of changing your shifts, missing your shifts, or rescheduling, your boss will notice.  This is not the kind of attention you want from your boss.
  6. Look people in the eye and be confident. You might be intimidated by your boss.  You might feel awkward looking a customer in the eye, but if you have a job (or are looking for a job) that requires any contact with customers looking people in the eye is essential.
  7. Ask your boss to suggest areas of improvement.  After you have been with a company for a few months, tell your boss the things you have learned and mastered.  Then ask him what he would like you to learn or improve.  The more you are trained, the more valuable you become to the company.  The more valuable you become, the more you will get paid.
  8. Show up early and be willing to stay late. Let your boss know that you will be where you are supposed to be at the time he wants you there.  This is a valuable quality in any field.
  9. Don’t just try and do what is expected, do more.  One way to be sure you will never get a raise is to do less than expected.  If you do what is expected you will likely maintain your pay.  But, the best way to get a raise at work is by doing more than you are expected.
  10. Find a job you enjoy. You will do a better job if you like what you do.  While you are in high school or college you don’t need to do what you love.  Your life ambition might be something entirely different, but if you hate what you do it will probably show up in the quality of your work.

You must decide to have a better financial future.

  1. Decide you will pay for and save for as much for college cost as possible.
  2. Decide to marry someone who has a clue about money.
  3. Decide to work at least during the summer, if not during the school year.
  4. Decide to buy a car with cash.
  5. Decide to rent until you have at least 20% down for your first home.


  1. Amy says

    I think #10 should read: Enjoy the job you find. We pick our attitudes in life. Unless something about the job is immoral or abusive, you can find joy in what you do. You aren’t slugging coffee for cranky people, you’re starting their day on a positive note, you’re not umpiring annoying children, you’re helping to teach teamwork and fair-play. I figured this out working at a greenhouse in high school. I worked alone for three hours every night in a dark greenhouse unpacking boxes and lining out UPCs. With several hours in total silence to reflect on my job I realized that I played a small role in bringing joy to hospital patients etc. It gave me a deep sense of pride in my job that on the surface was menial and pointless.

    • Craig says

      Great point! I like the way the wording ‘enjoy the job you find’. I would completely agree in the context of this post – when you are working for a summer or part- time just get a job and find a way to enjoy it. When it comes time to look for a full time job I would still advise you look for something you love and then enjoy what you find. I appreciate your feedback.

  2. Nathaniel says

    I believe #4 has to be one of the hardest points to actively execute, as self oriented beings this really burst the bubble, the bubble ego.

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