teen on skateboard

Finding Your First Job (Whether You’re In or Out of High School)


As a high school student or recent graduate, your job options may be a little limited. Many employers prefer to hire people with a high school diploma, who are 18 years or older. Plus, many jobs ask for prior experience.

But don’t worry – there are employment opportunities for young people! Here are some things to think about as you begin to search for a job.

Part-Time Jobs

Working part-time can be a good option. If you’re still in high school, a part-time job lets you make some money, while still managing your studies and other activities. Restaurants and grocery stores can be good places to seek a part-time job during the school year. If you’ve graduated or you’re over 18, you’ll have more options for part-time work.

Seasonal Jobs

Summer vs. Winter

Seasonal jobs can be a great source of employment opportunities for young people. They’re called seasonal because they take place during a particular season, usually summer or winter. That means that the job may last only a month or two, and might be full-time or part-time.

A great benefit of seasonal jobs is that they give you a chance to show an employer what you’re capable of – if they’re impressed, they might decide to keep you on when the season is over!

Summer brings a wide variety of seasonal jobs that you can apply for. Be sure to read our article about summer jobs. Winter jobs for young people are usually in retail stores or restaurants, related to the winter holiday season.

Entry Level Jobs

Your first jobs will probably be entry level jobs. They’re called entry level because those jobs are the ones that allow people to get started in a particular industry. Entry level jobs usually don’t pay much, but you have to remember this: it’s a way to break into an industry. Then you can start gaining experience. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to move up the ladder and start making more money!

Jobs That Fit Your Career Goal

career goal

If you have a career goal, you should consider jobs that might help you achieve that goal. For example, if you’re interested in nursing, it might be a good idea to look at health care facilities who hire workers your age. At first, you may have to work in an unrelated job, maybe in the kitchen of a nursing home. That’s not nursing, but having a job in a healthcare setting will look good on your resume, and it will expose you to the healthcare field.

As another example, if you get a clerical position you may be working with a bookkeeper – you may discover that you’d like to do that.

Use this first job as an opportunity to ask questions. Professionals who are working in an industry can give you good advice on how to get your career started.

If you don’t have a career goal, summer jobs or part-time jobs can be a way of trying out different occupations and industries, to see what you like or don’t like.

How to Find a Job

Once you’ve decided what sort of job you want, you then need to actually find one!

Finding Jobs Online

A great way of finding job opportunities is through online job boards. We recommend using Indeed.com, since it pulls jobs from many different sources on the internet, and it’s really easy to use. To start searching, just enter a job and your town name or zip code, and it will show you a listing of available jobs:

screenshot of Indeed.com

It’s probably helpful to search for “entry level” or “part time” jobs in your town, like this:

screenshot of Indeed.com

If you need a job that’s near where you live, be sure to set the Distance to “within 5 miles” (see the red box in the picture above).

Finding Jobs Through People You Know

Young adults often find their first job through a friend or relative. Don’t be afraid to ask around to see if anyone knows of a job you could apply for – this includes asking neighbors or the parents of your friends.

Other Important Things to Think About

Where is the Job Located?

The location of the job can be an important consideration. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How easy will it be for you to get to the job, and be on time every work day?
  • If you don’t have a car, is there public transportation you can take?
  • Or a family member or friend who can drop you off and pick you up?
  • Or, can you work somewhere near your home, that you could walk or bicycle to?

What are the Hours of the Job?

Some jobs will require you to work mornings, maybe very early. Some will want you to work evenings. Some jobs will require you to work weekends. In manufacturing you may be asked to work overnight. Make sure you can stick to the scheduled work hours for the job.

Be Persistent – Don’t Get Discouraged!

never give up

While you’re looking for a job you will experience rejection, probably more than once. You may apply for several jobs, and never hear anything.

Don’t take it personally, that’s just part of the process. If you apply for a job and don’t get it, keep applying for other jobs.

The key to job search success is never giving up!


Note: this article is the first in a series of articles aimed at helping young people start and manage their careers. Be sure to read the second article, How to Apply for Your First Job!

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