We recently spoke with a financial aid counselor who had some great insight about both her personal experience and the things you should be considering when balancing a work/school life. We also talk briefly about work/study programs for those in college.
1. Briefly tell us about your role/experience in counseling/guidance:
I am a student financial aid counselor. I determine student’s eligibility for financial aid based on their GPA and Completion Rate. I am also involved with state and community scholarship awarding on student accounts. The only real counseling I do for students is when I meet with them to explain financial aid eligibility rules and their options for appealing denial of their financial aid.
2. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?
Student Worker jobs on college campuses (this would be when they get to college) work with student schedules and give them an inside view at how college’s operate. I worked at a few convenience stores when I was younger. I believe the experiences I gained there were valuable. I learned how to deal with diverse populations of people, I learned how to stand my ground when it comes to following rules, such as no liquor sales on Sunday or no selling tobacco to minors, I learned the value of hard work and going the extra mile for others by dealing with situations that popped up that aren’t necessarily in your job description. As far as I’m concerned professionally, if teenagers get some kind of job that can help them decide what they DO or DON’T want to do as a career in the future, it can really help them by the time they get to college and want to study a particular major which can save them time and money in college.
3. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?
Don’t try to lie or make excuses. The thing I notice most are students who always blame someone else and we know when they are just making excuses and it does not look good. Dress and act professionally at all times.
4. For a teen who just needs money now, what are some of the best, perhaps less obvious, job opportunities to make decent money with no experience for someone 17 or 18 years old.
I mentioned convenience stores, which was great because I was not required to have any previous experience. I hear a lot of retail jobs require no experience. As I also explained earlier, once they get to college they can get a work study job. You can also do (which I did quite a bit of in High School) scorekeeping or refereeing/umpiring sports games for a local recreation department. They will often train teenagers for these jobs.
5. Outside of a typical online search, are there other creative ways a teen could look for part-time or seasonal work?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you know. If you have gone to the library every year for books, don’t be afraid to approach them and ask them for a part-time position. Ask your parents if you can travel to a local amusement park/resort/etc. for a summer job. The biggest thing is to not be afraid to use connections and just pick up the phone and call or start talking to people.
6. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?
Don’t give up and don’t quit just because things might not go your way or might not be what you want. It takes integrity to stick to a job and when you get older and are applying for jobs, people will notice that.