A summer or part-time job pays more than money. Even though the money earned is important, the work experience gained has a greater long-term value when one applies for a full-time job after graduation from school. Job application documents (the application blank and the personal data sheet) ask you to list jobs you have held and to list as references the names of individuals who supervised your work. (Gieseking and Plawin, 1994, 22)

As one young person was heard to remark, “You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.” That dilemma can be overcome, however, by starting work early in life and by accepting simpler jobs that have no minimum age limit and do not require experience.

Jobs Teens Can Do

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Begin early at jobs that may not pay especially well but help to establish a working track record: delivering newspapers, babysitting, mowing lawns, assisting with gardening, and the like. Use these work experiences as springboards for such later jobs as sales clerks, gas station attendant, fast-food worker, lifeguard, playground supervisor assistant, and office staff assistant (after you have developed basic office skills). As you progress through these work exploration experiences, try increasingly to get jobs that have some relationship to your career plans. If, for example, you want a career involving frequent contact with people—as in sales—seek part-time and summer work that gives you experience in dealing with people. Hamel, 1989, 10)

How to Handle Yourself on the Job

Whatever the job you are able to get, the following pointers will help you succeed in getting good recommendation for the next job you seek.

1. Be punctual. Get to work on time and return from lunch and other breaks promptly.

2. Get along well with others. Do your job well and offer to assist others who may need help. Take direction with a smile instead of a frown.

3. Speak proper English. Teenage jargon is often lost on the adults who are likely to be your supervisors.

4. Dress the part. Observe the unwritten dress code; dress as others on the job do. Always be neat and clean.

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