It’s never too early to start looking for a summer job

  • Written by Emily Hamann

It may not feel like it, but summer is right around the corner. In a few months, the school year will be over. For many teens that means days full of kicking back by the water, hanging out with friends and taking road trips. But maybe you’re the teen who decided to get a job this summer. Whether you’re saving up for concert tickets, or your parents are making you pay for your own car insurance, you find yourself in need of some money. You’ve never had a job before, so where do you start?

babysitter-sandra“It’s good to start earlier,” said Danielle Wallace. She’s the communications project manager at the Workforce Development Council for Seattle/King County. “The sooner the better.”

In March, the WDC will kick-off its summer Youth at Work program, to help teens and young people find internships, summer jobs and permanent jobs. There will also be job fairs aimed at young people around the county.

“We’re focusing on youth who are most likely looking for their first job,” Wallace said. The job fairs feature companies like Lowe’s, Starbucks and Nordstrom looking to fill entry-level positions. Those fairs will start happening in spring.
For now, teens can prepare for their job search by preparing their resume, researching companies and figuring out what kind of job they’re looking for. They can start by thinking about their interests, their strengths and weaknesses and experience.

Even if you’ve never had a job before, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience. Think about volunteer work, extracurricular activities or school leadership. All those can go in under experience on a job application or resume. The Youth at Work program has more advice for filling out applications on its website at There’s also a list of companies that hire people who are under 18.

Wallace said the YMCA is usually looking to hire young people to work for the summer camps and workshops it offers sometime in the spring.

“Especially for those summer-specific type jobs, employees want to hire earlier,” Wallace said.

There are some state laws regarding what jobs minors can do. They can’t operate heavy machinery or do other dangerous jobs. Minors can also only work certain hours, and have limits on how many they work — although when school is not in session they are allowed to work full time.

14- or 15-year-olds might also have a harder time finding jobs than 16- or 17-year-olds. The state places extra restrictions on that younger age group. They’re not allowed to cook or bake, and they have even more limited hours, even while school is not in session. The full list of state regulations can be found at People under the age of 14 can only be hired to work at a regular job if the company meets certain requirements.  

Anyone 13 and under might want to consider making money some other way, such as doing yard work for the neighbors or babysitting. For those wanting to start babysitting, taking a class and getting a certificate can boost your credibility.

Babysitting classes are offered at many YMCAs, through the Red Cross and through the Bothell Fire Department.
Every year, Bothell fire information officers Lisa Allen and Kirsten Clemens teach a Safe Sitter certification class. It’s aimed at people ages 11-13.

“My hope is that it builds confidence,” Allen said. Babysitting is a good job for kids who are confident and reliable. “[And] you really have to have a heart for kids,” Allen added.

The class gives sitters tools to help them figure out when they can solve a situation by themselves, when they should call an adult and when it’s an emergency. It also teaches sitters how to deal with behavioral issues and to negotiate their rates up front. In addition to the Safe Sitter course, Allen recommends that sitters get certified in CPR.

“It makes them look more credible,” Allen said.

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