Work and Volunteering

Many students find themselves in their first jobs in high school. Not only can this be a way to earn money and meet new people, but having a job can actually help prepare you for college. In this section, you'll find some of the reasons to have a job or volunteer position, as well as a few Dos and Don'ts. At the bottom of the page, you'll find TCAN programs and organizations that offer work or volunteer opportunities. 

Reasons to Hold a Job in High School

  1. You'll start earning a paycheck
    While you won't be making a ton of money yet, even small amounts can start building up. If you decide to put your money in a bank account, you might also be able to start earning interest. With your money, you can also build your financial knowledge about saving, budgets, and responsibility. Even if your work doesn't pay, similar jobs in the future might, and there are plenty of other benefits to working. 
  2. You'll build work experience
    Jobs in the future might list "previous work experience" as a requirement. Why is this? As with many things, being a good employee takes practice and involves knowing what really matters in your employment. Your high school job(s) can be a low-stakes place where you are able to make mistakes, and your boss will probably be more understanding. 
  3. You'll explore your interests
    While the job you have in high school might not be the job you'll have after you graduate, it'll help you get an idea of what kinds of things you like. Maybe you want to work outside, interact with kids, or maybe you have a hidden interest in filing paperwork. Your job can help you discover what you like and what you might not. 
  4. You'll meet new people
    One of the most fun parts of a job is making new work friends. These might be people you would never interact with otherwise, but getting to work with your favorite coworker can perk up any day. Learning to work with people that you don't get along with is also a habit you'll build. You might not be their best friend, but you can still accomplish a lot together.
  5. You'll learn new skills
    Working and volunteering can help you build important life skills like time management, organization, and confidence. Many job-specific skills, such as cleaning or customer service, will be helpful for a long time after your job. 
  6. You'll gain new perspectives
    Having a job exposes you to many new people and new experiences. Diversifying your perspective on life will not only help you interact with other people but can help you discover more about what you are like. If you have a work experience that particularly sticks with you, some people even use the lessons they learn from a job in their college applications. 

    Dos

    • Do create a resume - If you have never made a resume before, look up templates to help you get started. Many job and volunteering applications require a resume so that employers can learn about you. If you don't have a lot on yours yet, don't worry! You'll build up your resume as you move through high school.
       
    • Do talk to your parents or a trusted adult - If you are on the fence about applying for a job, sitting down with someone you trust can help you figure out what to do next. They might also be able to give you advice from their own experiences. 
       
    • Do apply to lots of jobs - The more jobs that you apply to, the higher the chance that you will be invited for an interview. Be prepared to have information on your education, your extracurriculars, availability, previous employment (if you have any), and references.
       
    • Do put your best foot forward - Once you have a job, show up on time, be respectful, and listen to your boss. By doing these things, you are not only building skills for the future, but also showing that you are a good employee. In the future, you may be able to put them down as a reference for other jobs or even ask them to write you a recommendation letter for college. 

    Don'ts

    • Don't prioritize your job over your schoolwork - It might be tempting to skip doing a piece of homework or sleep through class because of a work shift, but it's important to prioritize your time. If you are struggling with balancing your school and work time, talk to your boss or parent to figure out a solution.
       
    • Don't overwork yourself - If you are struggling with mental health and wellness, talk with your teachers and boss and let them know what is going on. Asking for help when you need it is actually a very mature skill and will help you throughout life.
       
    • Don't worry if your job is not in your desired career field - Many high schoolers have jobs completely unrelated to their career interests. You'll have the rest of your life to work in a career, so if you want to explore new fields or have a job just for fun, don't stress out about it.
       
    • Don't get discouraged if you haven't been able to get a job yet - If you have been applying to many jobs but haven't been getting offers or responses, don't give up hope! Keep trying, and reach out to someone if you need advice.