First Steps into the Workforce

While it might be harder to find a job when you’re younger, it’s not impossible, and the experience will help you throughout your adult life.

Hannah Browning, Campus Life Editor

The majority of businesses don’t hire people younger than 16. However, many 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds want an opportunity to earn their own money, and McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins, Safeway, and Arby’s will provide them with this opportunity. Although many of their locations will hire these ages, make sure to check the specific requirements for the location where you are applying.

Most Safeway locations hire staff as young as 14 years old, so freshman can work as a courtesy clerk. This is an entry level customer service job that requires you to help customers, bag groceries, and keep the store clean. You can find more information to apply here.

Baskin Robbins will also hire 14-year-olds, and they can work as crew members. They sell ice cream, stock supplies, clean, and do whatever else they are told to do. More information can be found here.

Another establishment that hires 14-year-olds is McDonald’s. and you can apply completely online sometimes. Check here to see if the location you would like to work at has online applications as an option, and if not, stop by the location to apply.

Arby’s is another option if you are 15 years old.  As a crew member, you help customers, take orders, and keep the restaurant clean. You can find more information here.

These are all pretty big businesses, but smaller businesses may still be hiring young teens. If you can’t find the requirements, just ask. Either call or go into the store to find out information if an establishment does not publish their information online.

Depending on where you apply, you may have to go to an interview. This can be extremely stressful, especially if you have never done an interview before. Make sure to dress up and look professional. McDonald’s might not be a formal place, but interviews are always a formal event. Unless you are specifically told to dress casual, dress professionally. A suit and tie might be a little too much, but you don’t want to show up to an interview in ripped jeans or leggings. Dress business casual: a nice shirt or blouse with a dark pair of jeans or nicer pants. Tasteful dresses and skirts will also work, and make sure to wear closed-toes. It’s better to be overdressed than too casual. In addition to this, look up common interview questions and practice answers. When being asked about previous work experience, there are still things you can say, despite not having been paid before. For example, most jobs involve working with people, so you can talk about how great you are at getting along with people or something along those lines. If you have babysat or tutored someone before, you can also bring that up. Maintain eye contact, and take it seriously. However, the most important thing is to be confident.

If none of these potential jobs interest you, or you aren’t 14 yet, there are other jobs you can find. Babysitting, petsitting, tutoring, and dog walking will all be more flexible and pay just as well. Of course, the money might not be consistent, but with a busy schedule, it could be the perfect solution. Start by talking to family members or close friends to see if they need help with anything they’d be willing to pay for. I personally started babysitting for my neighbors, and it got to the point where people would call me weeks in advance to make sure I was available. Building a good reputation for yourself will definitely help.

All this is helpful, but getting hired is the easy part. Actually working can be terrifying, especially for your first job. When you are training, do not be afraid to ask questions. You will be thankful you asked that “stupid” question when you are off training and know what you are doing. Also, don’t focus on becoming friends with your coworkers. Definitely, make sure to be nice to them, but friendships will grow naturally. Don’t lose focus from your responsibilities by prioritizing friendships. You are there to work, not to have fun. However, if it is a job you enjoy, it will be fun as well.

Whether you’re trying to save up for a car or a shopping spree at the mall, a first job will be an experience you will never forget and teach you skills that will help you throughout your entire life.