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Finding Your Dream Job in High School

By Mugdha Parulekar - Bergen School - NextGenVest President

Getting a job in high school comes with a ton of benefits. You get real world experience on behaving in a professional environment, it looks great on college apps, and let’s be honest, it’s great to have money of your own to spend as you please. But finding and handling your first job as a high schooler is not easy. I interviewed AMST Junior Sharon Shaji and ACAHA Junior Regina Yoo to find out about their experience with two very different high school jobs.

M: Did you work during the summer or during school too?

S: I worked during the summer. I was going to do it during the school year too, but junior year was too much and the commute was a little far.R: During the school year I worked as a babysitter and during the summer I worked as a tutor.PRO-Tip: Create a "fun goal" and a "savings goal" for the money you earn with your job. This way you are actively working towards something you like and your future.

M: How did you find the job opening?

S: So I heard from my local ShopRite that they were hiring, so I just went online and applied and I got an offer for an interview. So I went to the interview and I eventually got the job!R: I’m the praise leader at my church and more often than not part of my job is talking the the children’s parents. They know who I am and how much I like children so through talk my name gets spread. Generally a mom comes up to me and asks me to tutor or babysit either her child or a friend’s. Being engaged and creating relationships is definitely the best way to find jobs, especially as a high school student. I did editing for money once. As I follow my mom around her work, I get to meet a lot of new people. I got close to these newlyweds and once they had their first child, I was asked to take pictures and make a short montage from his first birthday.PRO-Tip: Check out sites like WayUp.com, Fiverr.com, or Taskrabbit.com to take advantage of the Sharing Economy.

M: Were there any jobs you applied to where you did not get the job?

S: Yeah, definitely! I applied to like 9 jobs and ShopRite and Burger King were the only ones that called me back. It’s really hard to get your first job because so many people want experience, but I feel like after you do gain experience, it gets easier finding a job.R: I worked freelance, so not really?

M: Do you have any tips about choosing a job to apply for?

S: I think if there’s any tips, it would be to know what jobs expect of you. Like for retail, you have a lot of folding clothes and helping others find items, and if you’re not the type of person that enjoys that or can tolerate that, then you shouldn’t be applying for any retail jobs.R: As a high school student, balancing school work, relationships with friends, and the SATs / ACTs is very tiring. My advice is to find something you are passionate about. If there are no available options, it’s also great to try something you were always interested in trying. Freelancing is awesome because it is less stressful and because it is on your schedule, you’ll find it much easier to find time for other things like homework.

M: What is your advice on what to do with the money once you have earned it?

S: Okay so after I started earning money, I realized how hard it actually is to get this money. I worked around 20 hours a week and got little over $100 a week and it’s crazy because you’re like exhausted and you don’t even get that much money. I opened up a checking account and just stored all my money there, but I took some out once in awhile to go shopping or treat my family to dinner. Also taxes are so mean! I didn’t realize how much money you lose because of taxes.R: Just a year ago, I was the type of person to spend my money without thinking twice. I bought a $70 sauce pan that claimed to make the best penne vodka sauce. But after I started to become more financially independent from my mom, I learned a lot about saving. During the summer, each week I put away $20 in my savings and kept the rest. Although at first it might not seem like a lot of money, as time goes by you will be glad that you put away some of your earnings.

M: Any final tips?

S: There is this website I was using when I was applying for a job. It’s called snagajob.com and I found it really helpful.R: 1) Don’t just work for money. 2) Take advantage of the opportunities and people you get to meet. 3) Take initiative, but find a right balance between taking initiative and being too assertive. Also don’t buy that sauce pan. Really don’t. I regret it. I don’t even know why I bought it. I don’t even cook.Sharon and Regina had two entirely different experiences with their jobs. Depending on what you want out of your job, you can either apply at a store like Sharon did or go freelance like Regina. Both methods have their pros and cons. While it seems daunting to contact many stores for a job, it requires just as much work to put yourself out there and build up a good reputation in the community if you want to get job like babysitting. And even though a schedule tailored to your needs is one of the most appealing parts of working for yourself, it also means that you may not get a regular income. In the end, choose a method that works for you, and keep at it even if you don’t succeed the first few times!To learn how to effectively save and spend money you earn, log into NextGenVest.com to take our 2 minute Budgeting 101 Course!