Coach Your Teen to Find a Summer Job—23 Tips

By the Facebook Friends and Staff of New Jobs for Massachusetts


Good news!  Some employers are boosting their teen hiring—and your teen needs work experience!  Here's a step-by-step plan to coach your teen to find a summer jobs successfully.

Tip 1

Agree with your teen to be job-search buddies


You will play different roles but you’ll work together.

You will be your teen's ally, traveling companion, friend and adviser, but not a boss.


Almost everyone likes working with a buddy once they get used to it.

Tip 2

Make your teen’s job search a fun project


If you make looking for work a project, you can play it like a game.


Every project has a goal, a beginning and end, and it’s easy to grasp.


Plan to work WITH your teen, not FOR your teen.  Plan to have fun together.

Tip 3

Use a map to focus


Use a map to figure out the area your teen can reach on foot, by bike, car or public transportation (depending on your access to these options) and call that your search area. You and your teen now own this “territory.”

These tips are free because others gave so that you could benefit.  Please help these tips reach 150 more families of Massachusetts teens!  Just contribute $5. Click the button below.

Tip 4

​Create a list of businesses in your search area


Create a list of the businesses in your search area your teen could call on.


You can buy a list of businesses from your town clerk for a couple bucks, or pick up a free list from a nearby realtor (moving-in spouses often use realtors' lists of employers).


Look the list over. Discuss with your teen whether your family knows anyone who works at any of these companies.  If yes, you have a friend who could help your teen.

These prospective employers in your search area are your “market."

Tip 5

Identify businesses that employ the most teens


Large Massachusetts grocery stores like Market Basket hire teens as summer workers, including teens as young as 14. Grocery stores usually treat teen applicants politely.


Start with employers like these who hire teens frequently, like larger retailers.  You might get lucky right away!

Tip 6

Identify businesses that few teens think of as employers


Next, aim for lower-profile businesses (not banks) that serve other businesses.


Consider any companies that might have clutter, or mechanical parts, or material in disarray, or records or archives that need attention.


Consumer services like gyms, YMCAs, salons, clinics, dance studios, churches, and rental real estate (meaning apartments, condos and office buildings) constantly need cleaning, and organizing.

We will pass these tips to 150 more households of teens like yours with every $5 contribution!  Will you help?

Tip 7

Have your teen write down her skills and interests


Have your teen write down her skills and interests while the two of you look through your list of business names together.


Use the list of businesses to stimulate your conversation. Think what sort of teen each company would want to hire.  Dig deep. 


YOU should mention any activity you ever saw her do well. YOUR TEEN should think of anything she did that she enjoyed or that made her proud, even science projects in grade school, or doing well on standardized tests.


The skills and interests she lists are her “product.”

Tip 8

Draft up a promotional card


Draft up a promotional handout, sometimes called a "push card," using MS Word or similar software.


A push card could be a 3-1/2 x 11 push card to leave behind with employers, just like politicians give to voters.


It's not a resume, it's just a slim, lightweight, cut-down piece of paper or card stock. This card is your teen’s “salesperson.”


It helps your teen get hired - even when your teen’s not present.

Tip 9

Refine the push card


The push card should include:

--her picture,

--simple contact information,

--bullets describing her skills and interests that might spark interest in a small businessperson’s heart,

--kinds of work she’d like to do,

--availability (right away, days of the week, until some date; willing to work weekends, evenings, anything special),

--church membership,

--subjects she’s good at in school,

--anything else that will catch attention (“good grades in Spanish or physics”).

New Jobs removes the barriers to rapid job growth. Your $5 contribution will pass these tips
to 150 households of teens like yours.  With your help, other teens will get the work experience they need, too! 

Tip 10

Hand out your push cards everywhere you apply


Print up two-dozen copies of your promo card at home or have a quick-printer like Staples print them.  Call it your first draft. 


Use employers’ questions and feedback to improve it.


The hidden value of this is that even getting a “no” might produce feedback for your card, so you and your teen can make it better. 


Ask prospects who said “no” if they would refer you to another possible employer, then follow up promptly and thank the referrer afterward.

Tip 11

Create a simple pitch


What should your teen say to each prospective employer?  Create a simple verbal pitch, then rehearse it 10 times.


To rehearse, she should walk up to your doorway, with you standing well behind her, and practice saying her pitch. Praise her for everything she does well; never tease your teen. This is scary her first time, but she’ll do fine with practice.


Does Steph Curry quit when he misses a basket? (No way! Curry’s already missed millions of practice shots!)

Tip 12

Grab a clipboard or a tablet computer and go


Grab a clipboard or a tablet computer (“Never go anywhere at work without something in your hands”) with your list of companies and some push cards, and head out.

New Jobs encourages teen work experience, self-employment, mothers finding flexible work, and middle-class job growth. Your $5 contribution will pass these tips to 150 households of teens like yours! 

Tip 13

Accommodate special-needs teens


Special-needs teens sometimes prefer to apply for work alongside their mentor. Talk with your teen.


Ask if he or she would be more comfortable visiting employers accompanied by their coach, mentor or counselor rather than with you.


Let your teen choose, then be proud of his choice.


Applying for work with their choice of mentor helps teens become more self-reliant.

Tip 14

Make it a game


Before going to the first business, put your heads together and guess how many calls you will have to make to get a summer-long or half-summer job (or two jobs).


Share your guesses and make it a game. 


Estimating makes tasks like these fun.  Once they are fun they will feel do-able.

Tip 15

Visit the businesses


Your teen should walk in, introduce himself, says his name and age, and that he’s is looking for summer work. He should make clear he is willing to work hard and do anything that needs doing, especially in his areas of strength (sorting, organizing, picking up, errands, etc.).


Go with him for the first handful of calls and let him do all the talking.

Each $5 contribution will pass these tips to 150 households of teens like yours! 

Tip 16

Analyze what happened


Analyze what happened when you return from your teen’s first applications. Discussing what happened makes projects successful.


Apply, review, improve and repeat!

Tip 17

Encourage your teen to network


Encourage your teen to network, starting with family, friends and your coworkers.


After your teen has begun applying, suggest she study your friends’ profiles and bios online, especially Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles.


Coach your teen to look for your friends’ connections with businesses or employers for whom your teen might consider working.


Gently help your teen understand how important personal contacts are in hiring decisions.  She’ll see neighbors and family in a new light.

Tip 18

 Let your teen apply by herself


Once your teen has completed a few visits, let her apply by herself. Then make sure to listen with interest to her report when she gets home.


Say that from here on you can only see what is happening through her words and descriptions, and you are looking forward to hearing her reports.

Summer's coming quickly! Contribute $5 to pass these tips to 150 households of teens like yours! 

Tip 19

Include some dream-job applications

Think about what your teen likes most, and suggest applying to jobs in that field.


--Hockey? Maybe there’s a rink in the next town.


--Furry animals? Seek out a shelter, a vet, pet shops.


--Video production? What if your teen applied at computer repair shops, marketing firms, political campaigns or website consultants?


What are your teen's dreams? Dreams motivate us all!

Tip 20

Coach your teen that she needs to advocate for herself


Jobs cannot find teenagers!


Teenagers, like adults, have to apply for work. They need to demonstrate their value, show interest, thank their interviewer, and call back to ask about progress and express continued interest.

Be understanding--this may be the first time your teen realizes that the world demands we take the initiative to move ourselves forward.

Tip 21

Encourage your teen to report back


Reporting back to you as his or her buddy will protect your teen from becoming depressed or feeling lonely.


Always stay in your role of coach, mentor, and Biggest Fan. Express your confidence and support, and praise whatever your teen does well.


Reporting, discussing and encouragement are powerful buffers against discouragement.

Contribute to New Jobs today!  Your $5 contribution will pass these tips to 150 households of teens! 

Tip 22

Applying for summer work will deepen your relationship


Simply walking, talking, meeting new people in your area, discussing work and workplaces and the people you meet broadens your shared experience. Applying for work as a team opens the door to your long-term relationship with your soon-to-be-adult teenager.

While you and your teen spend time together as a team, your friendship will deepen and your teen will begin to see work through your adult eyes.

Tip 23

Your teen will get useful feedback from real employers


Even this first exposure to “no” answers is valuable training. Your teen will learn how to benefit from adversity.


Here's the benefit: if there is part-time or full-time summer work out there, by persisting your teen will find it. 


Be sure to message New Jobs with your job-search stories—maybe we can feature your teen's experience so other families can learn from it.

Good luck and have fun together!

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