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Getting a Job 101

Last updated on June 9, 2022

The end of the school year is coming up, meaning lots of students are starting to look for jobs. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. As a freshman, I knew that I wanted to work more than I had in the past. I had been a summer camp counselor for two weeks out of the summer, but that didn’t feel like enough. I was ready to try something new and get more experience, but it never happened. The reason I didn’t get a summer job was because I didn’t know how, and it seemed daunting to start applying to places, so I never tried. When I was a sophomore I knew this time I would actually get a job. I wouldn’t put it off anymore just because I had encountered some difficulties.

What was most helpful for me in my process was searching job databases. Sites like Indeed and Glassdoor made the application process so much easier, especially having minimal experience. These sites have useful filtering tools, specifically for looking for jobs that are part-time, and accept applications from teenagers. They also have tools that help you build your resume. You can enter in information about your work experience and it will create a formatted document with the information. If you don’t have much work experience that’s okay, you can put in skills that you have or any volunteering you’ve done; there are a lot of options.

When you’re starting out it’s important to decide what kind of job you want to go into, and then apply to a lot of jobs that fit within that category. Whether it be food service, retail, counseling, or something completely different, if you are trying to get a standard job which you have zero experience with, you need to apply to multiple places. Some places never respond, some outright reject your application, and that is normal. Don’t be discouraged, just apply somewhere else, and you will eventually be called in for an interview.

Jobs can be completely unpredictable, but that just means you can acquire new skills and valuable experiences. I was so nervous for my first job interview, but the person who was interviewing me immediately asked when I could work and what my start date could be. They didn’t even ask why I wanted the job. When I started working (as an ice cream scooper) there was zero training and I was dealing with tourists, which meant people tipped well but had horrible attitudes. Ice cream scooping was not as fun as it sounded; there was a constant flow of people which meant if you weren’t on your break you were scooping or on the cash register the whole time without rest. Despite all the chaos at the beginning and the tedious work, the people I met and the skills I acquired made it all worth it. 

There are also a lot of things that happen that can lead to fun stories. I worked at the pier which meant that there were always a lot of people everywhere, and tons of tourist traps. There were these bikes that would go up and down the sidewalk that blasted music and asked people if they wanted rides around the pier. They usually had costumes like superheroes or pirates and it was super annoying hearing the same songs over and over again throughout the day. I was losing my mind, and I guess someone really did because while I was closing the ice cream section people started shouting “someone beat up Captain America!” My coworkers ran in and asked if we had any milk left and took the whole carton. I was really confused and walked outside to see them pouring it on “Captain America’s” head. Apparently, someone had enough of the songs and the biking and decided to pepper spray and beat up the driver. It was quite an interesting night and I was way too tired to deal with it.

Stella M. ‘25 has a good story from working at The Sugar Shack on Vashon: “I once took out the trash and I was wearing really cute pink corduroy pants and a mysterious liquid started spilling out of the bag as I was carrying it. By the time I felt it on my leg, the bag had ripped halfway open and my pants were covered in what I later learned to be a combination of Rib juice and banh mi sandwich sauce. It was quite embarrassing having to finish my shift with my disgusting pants. I tried washing them, but they were stained and pretty unsalvageable. I never wore those pants again. Sad because they were one of my favorite pairs, but in hindsight, it was pretty stupid of me to have worn them to wash dishes and take out the trash. Oh well.” A good lesson in making sure your work clothes are expendable.

Annika W. ‘22 shared about being in REI customer service: “I saw someone from Northwest every day I worked. I was talking to a woman about how I wanted to hike the PCT and it turned out she’s a super committed multiple-time hiker so she gave me lots of tips including her contact info and her trail name (Amethyst)!” An example of how you can meet a lot of amazing people while you’re working that you wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Elliott C. ‘25 says that while she was being a referee she got “yelled at by parents and coaches because I gave out a yellow card.” Sometimes you get yelled at for stupid reasons while you are working… but that’s life!

Getting a job in high school (or middle school) helps build life skills, your bank account, and is even good on college applications. If you don’t have anything to do over the summer it can be a really good option to fill up some time and experience a new environment. Many people have dream jobs, and even if you work somewhere that is not related to that job in any way you are still one step closer to achieving it. It can be hard to start but is always well worth it.

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