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A Guide to Student Jobs

For many students, the transition to high school marks the beginning of independence as a teenager. With new classes, new teachers, and a new school environment, this leap also brings a new sense of responsibility. High school is likely home to many firsts—first exhilarating parties, first daunting summative assignments, and first insights into the working world. Working part-time is common among high school and post-secondary students and has many advantages in addition to making an income. If you are considering or are in the process of searching for a part-time student job, look no further; this article is the guide for you!

Advantages & Disadvantages


Working part-time as a student is often described as a "double-edged sword." While there are evident benefits, there can also be potential risks. Below are some of the pros and cons of holding a part-time job as a teenager.


Pros

  • Make and manage your own money: As students, one of the greatest aspects of freedom is making and spending your own money. By working part-time, you can cease the need to rely on your parents the next time you head to the movies with friends or spot some desirable shoes at the mall. You may also choose to save up for future tuition or a car!

  • Gain work experience: Working a part-time job can grant valuable insight into a working environment and help you build a set of essential skills. Having work experience can also stand out on your resume and future applications to college and university!

  • Develop time management skills and responsibility: Jobs will demand punctuality and accountability more than you may have experienced at school. By exercising your skills each day, you can develop a good work ethic and become more independent and disciplined. This is why students who work part-time may even experience an improvement in academic achievement!

  • Develop leadership skills and build confidence: Working with team members, interacting with customers, and building relationships with coworkers are all aspects of many student jobs. Leadership is developed at work as you solve problems, learn to communicate effectively, and work alongside others.

Cons

  • Mental health: Overworking and stressful job environments can negatively affect a student's mental health. Thus, it is vital to ensure that well-being comes first.

  • Time consumption: Working takes time out of busy daily schedules, and students may experience difficulties balancing school, extracurricular activities, and jobs.


While there are both pros and cons to working as a student, many conclude that the positives outweigh the negatives. Nonetheless, it would be best if you made a careful and informed choice when considering and searching for a part-time job. It is a good idea to consult your parents or trusted adults to guide you through this decision and process.


Resumes


A strong resume is one of the most important tools in job hunting. It is a one or two-page document that introduces an employer to your qualifications, experiences, and assets. Almost all potential employers will ask for a resume when considering a new hire. Not sure what to include or even where to begin? Here are a few tips when formulating a resume for students!


Include any previous work experiences you may have if you do not have any, not to worry! It is not uncommon among teenagers, especially those only entering the workforce, to lack formal work experiences on resumes. Instead, incorporate any informal work experiences—such as babysitting, dog walking, delivering newspapers, etc.—volunteer experiences, and extracurricular activities you may have. You can also include achievements that stand out, current goals you may have, and awards received at school or elsewhere!


When making a resume, focus on what you wish to convey about yourself. Here are some thought-provoking questions to consider when designing your resume:

  • What do you believe is your greatest strength?

  • What would an employer want to see in a job candidate?

  • How would you describe your integrity, reliability, character, work ethic?

  • What qualities make you stand out as an individual and potential new hire?

  • Brainstorm a few times that you solved a difficult problem or achieved a profound goal.

For more tips on resume writing, examples, and templates, check out this article.


Cover Letters


A cover letter is an additional document that accompanies your resume. A cover letter introduces you to an employer and is specific in highlighting what makes you a good candidate for the job. When writing a cover letter, be professional and use formal language—just as you would for an English class essay! Customize your cover letter to the job you are applying for with a personalized greeting (if applicable), your position for and why, relevant qualifications and experiences, your goals for success, and a follow-up request. Having a professional format and proper grammar are also important aspects for success!


For more tips on cover letter writing, examples, and templates, check out this article.


References


Most employers will request references who can speak to your character, work ethic, skills, qualifications, etc. In most cases, it is good to have a minimum of three references who can attest to your abilities when contacted by a potential employer. As teenagers who often lack previous experiences, it may be difficult to identify who can act as a reference. Below is a list of individuals that you may consider!

  • A teacher, principal, guidance counsellor, or another staff member at your school.

  • A coach, instructor, tutor, or mentor from an extracurricular activity.

  • An adult (non-family) that can speak to your personality, interests, and character.


Interviews


The interview - the first formal meeting point between an employer and potential hire - daunting, nerve-wracking, terrifying. A young job-seekers first interview can definitely be all those things and more, but it doesn't have to be with preparation and practice! Here are things to keep in mind when preparing for your next interview:

  • Prepare a portfolio with relevant materials, including a resume, cover letter, reference information, certifications and degrees, etc.

  • Research the job and company you are interviewing for. Familiarize yourself with the job description and the goals, projects, and recent work of the company. This can be done by visiting the company website, social media pages, online reviews, etc.

  • Conduct practice interviews. This can be done with a friend or even just in front of a mirror! Review common interview questions to identify the answers you wish to give. LiveCareer provides a list of common interview questions with thorough guides on how to answer each one.

  • Decide what you will wear, what you will bring, and how and when you will arrive to avoid being late or unprepared for your interview.

  • Prepare questions of your own. While an interview allows an employer to know you better as a potential job candidate, it is also an opportunity to learn about the position and company you are applying for.

  • Sending a thank-you note, letter, or email following an interview is a great way to show your appreciation and stand out among candidates!

Job Searching


Besides the usual Google search or online engines, where else can a teenager search for jobs?

  • Fast-food restaurants are common workplaces for teenagers. Working in this fast-paced environment, students can exercise their customer service, time management, and money handling skills.

  • A grocery store is another common student workplace. From positions in the bakery, the produce section, the meat department, or as a cashier, grocery stores are filled with students' job opportunities.

  • Visit your City's website to see what student jobs they are offering! In many cases, these jobs range from working at an arena, public library, swimming pool, community centre, camp programs, and more.

  • Search for a teaching or instructor jobs in areas that you are qualified in. If you excel at math, consider applying for math tutor positions. If you have certifications in a musical instrument or sport, search for instructor opportunities within those activities.

  • Look for opportunities within your school or school board. Visiting your school's guidance office, ad wall, or website can help you discover postings or job fairs for students!

For insightful tips on presenting yourself to potential employers during meetings or job fairs, check out Race to a Cure's article on networking!


Holding a part-time job as a student comes with great responsibility but also great rewards. Not only do you make extra money, but you also gain valuable skills and build confidence as well! Working part-time is something all students should consider once they approach the age to do so. And who knows? Perhaps work is the place you meet a new friend, discover a new passion, or learn a valuable lesson. Regardless, we encourage you to not give up on the job searching process and wish you the best of luck in this experience!


References


“12 Compelling Reasons Your Teen Should Work.” Bachelors Degree Online, 23 Aug. 2019,

www.bachelorsdegreeonline.com/blog/2012/12-compelling-reasons-your-teen-should-work/.

Share, Jacob. “Interview Preparation for Teens: 11 Tips for Getting the Job.” Live Career, 19 Oct. 2020, www.livecareer.com/resources/interviews/prep/teen-job-strategies.


Image is courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels


Article Author: Victoria Huang

Article Editors: Valerie Shirobokov, Maria Giroux