Help! I need my first job!

I got an email from a teen looking for her first job. She had no idea what she could do and had applied at three places with no response. I thought my response might be helpful to those of you going through the same.

I know it’s hard. Especially since the economy got bad. What hobbies do you like? Maybe you can be an assistant for a photographer or something along those lines. There’s also baby sitting, working at McDonald’s and many other options. There are books about jobs for teens and many websites. Just start googling “jobs for teens.”

Still, it’s hard. I know. Just don’t give up. You need to apply for a lot of jobs. Not just three. More like 20-30. Just know that it’s going to be a lot of applications. That way it will be a relief when one finally accepts you. Also, gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores are usually hiring. Just go in, ask if they have any positions open and if they say yes, ask what the position is. No matter what it is – no matter how below you it seems or grimy or dirty, be enthusiastic and say you want to apply.

Just keep applying and keep being enthusiastic. Eventually you’ll get used to the routine and learn what the managers want to hear. Then you’ll get better at answering and eventually get a job.

Also ask adults you know if they know of/have any jobs for you. They may need help cleaning, filing, etc. Ask them what they did when they were your age. They’ll probably like your enthusiasm and feel bad and try to help you out in some way. Listen to all of their advice and put it into action.

—-end response

How about you adults out there? Have any ideas for the youngsters? How did you get your first job? Any other teens have a job and care to share how you got it? Respond in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Help! I need my first job!”

  1. I work retail and while I hated it at first because it is such an extroverted job, I discovered that I could make it more enjoyable by truly relating to my customers and working with each one of them one-on-one, even if my time with them was very limited. I work in home improvement, and when people would come in needing parts for their projects, for just a moment their project would become -our- project. By genuinely showing interest in what they were creating, I shared that creativity with them, and made them feel more at ease, too. And really, who doesn’t enjoy people showing interest in their ideas? Long story short, we both got something out of it, and both ended up happier.
    Introspect a bit: there are ways to make any job tolerable, even if it’s not the ideal career for our type; just think long and hard about the strengths of the INFP, and how you can make them fit into your job, mundane though it may seem. We are at a bit of a disadvantage in the extroverted market these days, but I think we bring something vital to the workplace too, though we ourselves may not realize it when faced with such jobs. 🙂

  2. As a teenager, I admit I did ok with the part-time jobs I snagged. My very first job was as a telemarketer. While it paid well, I hated it (of course) and quickly found a job at a buffet restaurant. I sat people and cleared tables; it was nice because I made a full minimum wage…but people would tip me all of the time.

    I worked in restaurants…mainly as a hostess until I was a junior in college. Then I got a summer job at an amusement park. It was fantastic…and the pay was great. In spite of working with the public, you have them in good spirits (98% of the people are happy while they are there). You don’t have to be incredibly outgoing because people want assurance and confidence that you know what you are doing (I was a ride operator).

    After that I did the waitressing thing (hated that; felt like an automaton) and retail thing (that was ok…..but again, routine, boring work). My last part-time job before getting a professional position was working in a music store. It paid peanuts….but I loved it. Well, until up near the end when we got a new GM who got kicks out of highlighting all the bad that you do. That was it for me!

    My suggestion for teen INFPs; stay away from the server, and call-center/customer service type jobs. Look towards retail…especially those who sell products you are interested in. Money is nice but don’t make it a priority. Good-paying part-time jobs are hard for teens to get anyway.

    • Retail – are you kidding me? You have to be an extravert who doesn’t bat an eyelash at the fact that their work consists of convincing people that they are not good enough but whatever carp you’re selling will make them feel better. I’d take McDonald’s over retail… at least there people come in knowing what they want (you rarely go into McDonald’s only to browse, and even if you do, you don’t talk to the cashier). At McDonald’s you can do your job, and not suck at it.

      On the other hand I’m unemployed again, so maybe I’m not the best to give you advice. So let me be a cautionary tale: try to avoid retail because even if you can fake it, the effort will mess up the rest of your day too. And, more importantly, find SOME way to convince yourself to job hunt that feels like “working hard” rather than “practicing to become depressed.”

      You are a great person, despite how many makeupy extraverts tell you it’s easy to get jobs and how many makeupy extraverts get the jobs you apply for. That doesn’t undermine your worth. Find a way to remind yourself of that, to displace the depressing thoughts. That’s my advice for job hunting.

  3. I have had many, many, many jobs – over 25 of them in a 13 year period. Granted, a fair number of them were between the ages of 14 and 18 but still. I will tell you never know what you are getting into until you have already started. Employers never are up front about any sort comings about whatever job you are interviewing for. In general the interview and job hiring process is a big game of lies and deception from both ends (you will exaggerate your prior experience and skills and they will exaggerate how good the job is). To get hired you have to be liked by the manager and that is all – most manager won’t check any of your claims if you are liked in his or her eyes. The only case where this wasn’t true in all those jobs was my most recent acquisition was my last hire – the only reason that is true is because I was a rehire and already knew everything I had to expect.

    Therefore, my advise is this; try to get an entry level job in place that sparks your interest. There are more options than you think. It could be a retail store you shop at. It could be a restaurant you liked. It could also be an office with remedial work or, hell, maybe an aid to a farm. Also, jobs are not all wine and roses; don’t have high expectations for your first job and take the word of your interviewer as a grain of salt. Finally, spend your first few weeks really observing and ask yourself if this is something you see yourself doing for the next year or more. If the answer is ‘no’ than you should right than and there find a different gig.

    “My daddy always told me that a man looking for work and not findin’ any aint lookin’ hard enough” – Jane Cobb – Firefly

  4. As an INFP, I have found that taking just any job, while certainly putting money in your pocket, can be problematic for two reasons. First of all, if the job isn’t a good match for your interests you will find yourself feeling unsatisfied and possibly resentful toward your employer because there will always be other things you’d rather be doing. INFPs don’t typically like to work just for a paycheck. Eventually you will burn out and may even resent your employer–a poor start in the job market. Secondly, young people facing poor post-graduation employment odds would do well to get some experience in fields they are interested in pursuing now, as Ms. Marriott pointed out above. Inquire at companies that are of interest to you, even if they do not have posted openings. Being a gofer gets you in the door and gives you exposure to the work you may want to do. It also give the company a chance to gauge your interest and talents, and may eventually result in a “real” position. Plus this kind of work helps build a resume far better than “cashier” or “burger flipper.”

    Should you find yourself in one of those minimum wage jobs however, you can always use your imagination to imbue the job with purpose. Organizing a messy POS station, straighten a ransacked display, being kind to a harried mother with children in tow; any of these things can make you feel more connected to your spiritual center and provides a sense of fulfillment in even the most menial jobs. Good luck!

  5. All good advice. For someone who doesn’t know what they want to do, taking just any job and trying things out can be very useful but a process of elimination can be a slow way to find out what you do want to do.

    I would say that talking to lots of people about what they do could be helpful, especially if you think they have a lot in common with you. Maybe you would like what they do. If you think they would, perhaps they could let you shadow them, observing the job close up. If that increases your interest perhaps you could get a placement for a week/month to try it out first-hand.

    As a career coach, I would have to say that someone like me (coach, adviser, counsellor; the name is not important) could really help to focus the decision down much more quickly, reducing the anxiety and supporting the process of career decision making.

    Whatever your age; whether starting your career or considering a career change, I hope you find your way to a fulfilling, enjoyable career.


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