What Teens Gain From Summer Jobs And Where To Find Them Now

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As another school year draws to an end, teenagers across the country are finding their attention drifting from their studies to their summer plans. That shouldn't come as a surprise, of course. It's practically a mathematical truth that sweet spring air wafting through wide-open classroom windows makes it exponentially more difficult to solve trigonometric equations.

What might surprise members of older generations, however, is that teens' attention is, on average, not drifting toward finding a job. Fewer than a third of people between the ages of 16 and 19 had a job or were looking for one in February – a record low – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which starting collecting data in 1948.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The recession sped up the drop in teen workforce participation, but high schoolers have been turning away from summer work since the late 1970s, so economic reasons are not the driving cause of this trend. (The BLS labor force participation rate measures the number of people who are actively looking for work, not just those who are successful in finding it.) The reason isn't laziness either, according to John A. Challenger, the CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a career consultancy.

"In fact, it is quite the opposite," he said. "[Teens] are spending more time on homework. More of them are involved in more extracurricular activities, to the extent that some parents are worried that their children are over-scheduled." Indeed, 40 percent of parents say their kids' schoolwork is causing them too much stress, according to a survey conducted by NPR, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

All this emphasis on academic achievement may not be paying off as much as parents and educators had hoped. Competition to get into brand name colleges is greater than ever, but there's little evidence that these schools give students a career advantage over less selective schools. What's more, CareerBuilder found that over half of employers feel college students are spending too much time with their books and tennis rackets and not enough time gaining real-world skills.

Among these real-world skills, or soft skills, are professionalism, the ability to communicate effectively, strong work ethic and dependability, and teens won't learn these skills from a book. They will only gain them by working.

Although competition for low-skilled work has increased since the recession, high schoolers still have plenty of options to choose from. Check out the list below for industries and companies that are teen-friendly and click any of the links to apply today.


Japan Fast Fashion

The retail industry welcomes teenage workers with open arms. Retail workers sell goods such as books, cars, clothing, electronics and many other types of merchandise. Often referred to as Sales Associates or Team Members, these workers usually help customers select items and make purchases and straighten inventory in the sales floor.

Apply at: Forever 21, JC Penney, Massage Envy, Toys"R"Us, CVS, Macy's, RGIS (as a part-time inventory taker)

Movie Theaters

Teenage boy (14-16) cleaning refreshments counter in cinema
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Movie theaters beef up their staff during the summer to handle the influx of moviegoers attracted by blockbuster movie releases. Theater owners typically hire teens to run concession stands, act as ushers and to sell tickets.

Apply at: AMC Entertainment and other theaters

Food service

Inside Burger King And Subway As McDonald's Faces Growing Challenge From Rivals
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Food service employees interact directly with customers or prepare meals in the kitchen. They are usually employed at restaurants, schools, hospitals or cafeterias.

Apply at: Buffalo Wild Wings, Panda Restaurant Group, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, Papa John's

Outdoor Work

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The summer is a great time for outdoorsy types to find short-term work they enjoy. Summer camps, pools, beaches and amusement parks love to employ teens and offer advantages like exercise and fresh air.

Apply at: Summer camps (as a counselor), YMCA and pools and beaches (as a lifeguard), Six Flags and other amusement parks (as a ride or game operator)

Summer Job Searching Tips for Teens
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