What age is realistic for a teen to get a summer job?

My husband wants my son to experience the reality of the working world. He’s been after him to line up a summer job since January. So far, he’s managed to land an unpaid summer job.

My son insists its almost impossible to get hired when you’re only 15 at anywhere other than a summer camp. (and even those jobs want to give you volunteer hours rather than pay.) The battle in our house continues.

Meanwhile I came across an article that lends some validity to my son’s argument.

Here is the article from an NBC station’s website:

Teens struggle to find summer jobs

(NBC – Montgomery, Alabama)

School’s out, summer’s here and the job search begins. Many teens are now looking for summer jobs as a way to make money, but these young students are struggling to find some.

The job market for teenagers has been struggling for a few years, and unfortunately, many teenagers are losing hope.

Students like Abby Stone are anxiously waiting to land a summer job.

“I’ve been applying to literally every job…I’ve been looking for like five weeks now…but I don’t know,” said Stone.

Stone had a summer job last year, but she says it’s harder to find one this time. She needs the money to attend her high school.

“I pay $85 dollars a week…they won’t let me stay in school if I don’t,” Stone said. “I do not ever want to leave school because I want to get through.”

A summer job means a stronger resume and gaining essential skills to succeed in college and future careers. But James Shipp, program director for the Workforce Investment Act, says students have to plan months ahead to get a summer job now.

“When they come over for Christmas break…that’s a good time to start looking for jobs,” Shipp said. “The sooner you apply the better chances of you getting a job. And network…it’s the best way…sometimes even better than applying early.”

Teen unemployment has exceeded more than 20% for the past four years. Sixteen to 19 year olds might have to go back to school without ever finding another job.

If anyone is looking for a job or other opportunities, there are many options available on the web. IndeedCareerbuilderMonster, and Snagajob are all great site to start your job search.

PR guru Jeff Crilley says:

Clearly, the job market is tight, but many employers complain that today’s teens just don’t have the work ethic of their parents and grandparents.

How much of the high teen unemployment rate is due to teens who just aren’t hustling? 

“I’ve had a number of employers tell me that they’re seeing more spoiled teenagers than ever before,” explains personal finance expert Clark Hodges. “They’re only half-hardheartedly looking for work because they’d really rather be home playing video games or texting with their friends.”



Parents, what do you think of teen summer employment? Do you think teens are trying hard enough to find paid work? Are there really fewer jobs available for teens? Do you think employers take advantage of teens by offering unpaid work and labeling it as volunteer hours? What age is realistic for a teen to land a paid job?


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