It’s been a while since I ventured out in search of my first job. I still remember the odd imbalance of anxiety and confidence. I was part cocky 15-year-old and part confused and scared little kid. I don’t exactly know what I did right to land my first job, but I can now look back and say this is what I should have done. It’s possible that you have mowed yards or watched a neighbor’s kids in the past, these tips are for when you are ready to go all-in on a “real job” with a boss and everything.

Create a Resume and Gather Documents

I remember thinking about doing a resume, it was even assigned as homework one year. I know it may seem like you have nothing to add to a resume, but I bet you do. Even if you are applying for a job at a local restaurant, your resume is a key piece in showing your maturity and skills.

Activities Resume is an easy way to start your resume. At this point in your life you are not expected to have years of work history. What you want to do is highlight your school and community involvement. Pay specific attention to the roles you played and the tasks you completed. The fact that you “volunteered at a local soup kitchen” is nice, but saying that you “worked on a service line feeding 150 people each day” is much more impressive.

There are a few items that might be required in addition to your resume. It’s a good idea to have a photo ID, social security card or passport, health insurance information and emergency contact information. These are typically asked for after you get the job, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. If you don’t know what you will need, don’t be afraid to ask someone at the employer.

Make a Reasonable List

Want to know what I wanted my first job to be? I really wanted to be a beach lifeguard. One problem, I lived in Colorado at the time. Make a list of the jobs that interest you and prioritize them. Be reasonable, for example, my second job was at a pet store that had a connected veterinarian’s office. At the time, I had plans to be a veterinarian and this job gave me a chance to shadow the great people in that office. I never loved working retail, it was just ok, but the experiences it afforded me are priceless.

Get Organized

Make sure you have things set up and ready to go. I struggled with managing my schedule, and had I not got my act together it would have killed my job prospects. You have to anticipate working interviews in between your school activities and homework. Then, when you get the job, you need to show up on time and in the right place. Employers can spot an unorganized applicant, they are good at their jobs, so be ready.

Another thing that I hear surprises some students is managing the job openings. There are a lot of websites and newspapers that post openings. On top of that you run into “Now Hiring” signs on street corners. You’ll need to keep track of where and when you apply, that way you can follow up and keep track of the process.

Do Your Research

I knew nothing about the restaurant where I had my first interview. It’s no wonder I didn’t get the job, I probably failed to answer anything correctly in the interview or on the application. I’m not saying you need the origin story for the entire organization, but a few facts will really help you stand out.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to grow in a business that makes $1.5 billion in profits each year.”

“I like to serve my community, working at a small business like yours is a perfect opportunity for me to do that while learning a lot from you and the other employees.”

Be Ready to Learn

This isn’t a tip on how to get the job, but more about keeping the job. Take off those green colored glasses. If you are like me, the thought of making money on a regular basis was all I focused on. While the income will afford you many things, the experiences and education will be what sticks with you the rest of your life. One of my managers said “value the information and appreciate the income.”


Those are some tips for you high school students who are starting to think about a summer job or part-time work to begin your career. One last tip, enjoy it! To be captain obvious, you only have one first job.