School is out and for many teenagers one of the quintessential summer vacation experiences is finding your first summer job – a great way for you to earn some extra cash for back to school clothes, boost your self-esteem, build confidence and move out of your comfort zone. Maybe you’ve been swimming since you could walk and want to become a lifeguard, or perhaps you want to step up your babysitting gigs to the next level as a camp counselor. Whatever your interest, chances are that there’s a summer job that fits you.

How to Find a Great Summer Job

1) Focusing on Your Resume

You should create a resume showcasing your work and volunteer experience, skills, and interests. Unlike adult resumes, you may not have a lot of work experience and that’s okay, you are young. However, make sure that your resume sells your best qualities — you don’t want to sell yourself short – and it’s professional. Pink paper is fun but white will definitely show the employer that you’re responsible!

2) Figuring Out the Best Fit

Start with your age. If you are 14 or 15, your work options may be limited. Supermarkets often hire cashiers that are younger (under 16) but other places that require more hours or more responsibility usually don’t hire until you’ve had your Sweet 16. Even then, you can run into obstacles. While I was scouring the local mall for work opportunities, a lot of places told me that they only hire 18+ due to the hours. Popular places to work are ice cream stores, restaurants, clothing stores and day camps.

3) Manuevering Through the Application Process

Once you’ve figured out what types of jobs you’re eligible for, start applying! Apply to as many places as you can – chances are that a few of them will be hiring, and they may have you come in for an interview. But don’t apply simply because you’re desperate for a job – take it seriously because employers want motivated and mature employees regardless of age.

4) Don’t Freak Out Over Interviewing

After you apply and you cross your fingers, hopefully you’ll get a call to go in and interview with one of the managers. It might seem scary but it’s pretty simple to do well by dressing the part - even if your interviewer notifies you that it’s okay to dress “casually,” you should always look professional. Wear clothes that you know look good and fit well so that you’re comfortable during the interview. Then be friendly, answer questions thoughtfully, and let your interviewer see why you would be a good fit for the position. Remember – you rock and they’d be lucky to have you on their team!

5) Remember to Follow Up

After the interview, send a thank you note thanking your interviewer for their time. Then you just have to wait. There are three possible options: yes, no, and not now.

If you land the job, congratulations! Your hard work paid off. If the interviewer responds with a no, don’t get discouraged – keep applying to other jobs and companies. I had to apply to a number of places before I got my current job, and even now I’m still waiting to hear from other places. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

The third outcome is arguably the most frustrating. You applied, aced your interview, and the interviewer tells you no—for now. The company may have just hired three other people and have no space for you at the current time. This is what happened to me. In this case, be persistent. Let the employer know that you’re still interested, and periodically follow up. I ended up getting a job at a frozen yogurt shop that didn’t hire me right away, so my persistence paid off.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t stress! Summer is your time to have fun, so enjoy the job search process and stay positive!

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