Tory Johnson: 10 Tips to Get Your Kid a Summer Job

Advice and resources on how to pound the pavement to nab some summer work.

May 31, 2010 — -- To line up summer employment, it's all about old fashioned pavement pounding right now. Share these tactics with your teens to help them hear, "You're hired."

Talk to friends and neighbors. Encourage your kids to start close to home by promoting their own skills and interests and telling friends and neighbors that they're willing to offer a helping hand. It could be baby-sitting, tutoring, music lessons, house painting, yard work -- whatever they feel comfortable and confident doing. If one person doesn't have steady work, teens can juggle multiple clients with the same needs.

Find more job searching resources on at the "GMA" Jobs Club page, click here.

Ask directly for leads. When talking to the people in the neighborhood, kids should also ask directly for introductions and job leads. "If you don't need my time and talent, do you know someone else who might?"

Approach local store owners. Maybe you've shopped in the same grocery store for 10 years -- if not longer. You're a familiar face, so ask the manager about summer openings on behalf of your son or daughter. Once you find out about the opening, give your kid the information and let him or her take it from there.

Walk the mall or Main Street. Many stores never advertise their openings online or in the Sunday paper. Instead, they put a "Help Wanted" sign in the window or they wait for customers to inquire about opportunities. Walk in ready to interview while explaining your connection to the establishment. If it's a favorite place to shop, explain why you love the merchandise. If it's a category of retail that you admire, share that. This differentiates you from others who drop off resumes without saying a word.

Consider an internship. A great place to find teen internships is through non-profits, which often have access to opportunities with large employers that we never hear about because external candidates can't apply. The positions are limited and they're filled by non-profit groups that do the screening, recruitment and placement. This is also a great addition to a college application.

Get Your Kid a Job: Tricks of the Trade

Contact local government. Call your mayor's office or 311 (depending on your community) to inquire about access to programs for teens. Some cities have funds earmarked exclusively for summer youth employment.

Pursue places of worship. Church groups and others may hire teens to help with youth summer programs or they receive requests from local businesses to refer young talent for summer gigs.

Chat with teachers, counselors, principals. Talk with teachers, guidance counselors and principals before school lets out to ask for referrals to employers or job placement programs for students. Many times they're plugged into opportunities that are never advertised, but are available through school-based referrals.

Ask with enthusiasm. If you're asking for help on behalf of your kid, how you ask is as important as who you ask. Don't say, "Can you give my kid a job so I can get him off the couch this summer?" That says you think your kid is lazy -- not exactly the most appealing trait when looking for work. Instead, be positive and enthusiastic without ever being pushy.

Don't give up easily. Teens today expect instant gratification. They'll look for an hour and call it quits if nothing pans out. Remind them -- and yourself -- that job searching doesn't produce overnight success. Some places will be filled and others will promise to get back to you. Only through daily effort will an offer come to pass.

Get Your Kid a Job: Resources

Explore a variety of resources to get ideas. Local resources in your community are the best bet for securing summer youth employment. Explore these national non-profits, government agencies and job resources to get a feel for what's out there and available. Only you can decide the best resource for your family:


Prep for Prep

Step Up Women's Network

Career Explorations

U.S. Government Jobs for Students

U.S. Department of State Careers

Spark the Wave



I Could Be


Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and the CEO of Women For Hire. Talk to her at