While jobs for 14-year-olds were probably not high on the list of things for teens to do a decade ago, things have changed.
Having a job could be what decides whether you get into your dream college or university or not.
This is because admissions teams are looking for certain traits to convince them that you’ll be able to do wake up, do your homework, be punctual and many more tasks all on your own at uni.
Your college essay (or personal statement for those from the UK and Commonwealth countries) is where you’ll need to demonstrate that.
“Now that doesn’t mean you all should run out and make your kid get a part-time job just so they can write a college admission essay. Right?” said Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of “How to Raise an Adult” and the former dean of freshmen at Stanford University
“The point is the skills the child gets, the experiences they have, the humility they develop, the competency, the world view they develop by working a job where a boss is not mom or dad really can lead to incredible growth and perspective. And that can make a good essay.”
Preparing to write this essay (and what feels like thousands of application forms) for university today can be the most exciting time in your life — or the most stressful.
With so many after-school activities and exams, and still coming short against seemingly superhuman teenagers who are doing 10,000 more things than you, you need all the extra boost you can get to add to your application.
A job over the holidays or a week’s internship at your father’s law firm is likely not to cut it — as millions of teens worldwide, the very same competing for that same spot at your dream colleges, are doing the same.
Jobs for 14-year-olds and other teens are being snapped up
In summer 2021, US businesses hired nearly a million more teens than in the summer.
Over six million US teens (around one in three teens) had a paying job for at least part of last summer, Pew Research Centre’s analysis of data found.
This is the highest teen summer employment rate since 2008.
Sectors including food, accommodation, arts and recreation, and manufacturing were among the ones leading the hiring surge.
It’s easy to understand why many are snapping up the many jobs available.
Taking up jobs for 14-year-olds not only gets you paid and makes your college essay stand out but also offers many other benefits too:
- You can practise how to manage time
- You become more responsible for your actions
- You know more about a certain career
- You can meet new people and friends who can give you a leg up in the future
As Amy Carney, a mother of six and the author of “Parent on Purpose,” said:
Teenagers “become stronger through the uncomfortable and inconvenient experiences that come with working at a local restaurant, grocery store or other service industry jobs.”
The top 10 jobs for 14-year-olds
With businesses desperate to recover from the pandemic, many are in need of workers — especially in restaurants, amusement parks, pools, and other leisure areas.
And they’re willing to pay. In the US, the median hourly pay for teenagers last summer was US$14 — going up to US$20 per hour for lifeguards.
While you should find a job that pays you enough, remember that money isn’t everything. It’s important to choose one that you can learn something from and that is relevant to your college essay.
Here are the top 10 jobs for 14-year-olds that’ll look great on your college application:
1. Camp counsellor
Being a camp counsellor is a good opportunity for you to sharpen a number of skills, including;
- Leadership: You need to make decisions and adapt to any situation that may arise. Counsellors will need to think on their feet and be able to take charge.
- Good communication: While at camp, a counsellor will need to speak and convey messages to many people, including children, parents, trainers, or medical staff, if called for.
- Learn diversity: You get to know, understand and empathise with people of all ages, abilities and races.
It can also feel like a second home to some.
Actor Denzel Washington worked as a counsellor at the Boys and Girls Club, and really enjoyed it.
“You learn to compete, you learn to be a gracious winner or loser, you learn how to get along with your peers and how to follow instructions, but all under the guise of having fun,” he said.
Another great option in this list of jobs for 14-year-olds.
Being a tutor helps you show off two things in your college essay: you have good grades and you can communicate information clearly and concisely.
It’s a bonus if you tutor in the same subject you plan to apply for at college or university.
Before he was an actor, Jon Hamm taught high school, saying that today, he would still consider going back to teach if he could.
“I think teaching is one of the great professions on the planet, and I had the good fortune to do it for a year.”
3. Retail worker
Being a retail worker might seem like an easy feat, but let us tell you, it is not.
Customers are demanding, you have to be the first and/or last person in, and you could be in charge of a lot of money.
All of this sounds tough but it’ll ultimately make you a better college applicant in the future.
Working at a grocer’s gives you skills like customer service, financial management and how to calculate how many days before you need to order another batch of candy.
Working at a clothing store is no different. You learn responsibility, emotional intelligence, integrity and creativity.
Funny woman Amy Poehler (the cool mum in “Mean Girls”) can tell you all about it. She worked at Chadwick’s, a local ice cream parlour.
“Hard and physical, the job consisted of stacking and wiping and scooping and lifting,” she said.
4. Kitchen hand or waiter
Working in a kitchen or restaurant is a high-pressure space to be in. You may be on your feet for hours, work late hours, and constantly have hot pots and pans around you.
But you also gain heaps – patience, multitasking, customer service, communication, and time management.
Just remember not to get fired, as Nicky Minaj did.
Before she was twerking to “Anaconda,” she worked at Red Lobster but was fired for giving a couple the finger after they walked off with her pen.
“It was the principle,” she told GQ years later.
5. Office assistant
Replying to emails, filing, and data entry are basic skills you’d pick up in an office.
This position will teach time management and skills specific to a field of interest.
For instance, if you are interested in fashion, then becoming an assistant to a designer may bump up your chances of getting into a fashion school.
Interested in going to business school? Apply for a job with a start-up, small or big.
Many famous people did the same. Faith Hill worked as a receptionist, Jennifer Lopez was a secretary and Ellen Degeneres was a paralegal.
Being a lifeguard in the summer can be a fun and exciting job. Make no mistake; it is also a very serious.
A lifeguard job will demonstrate a strong work ethic and leadership. But most of all, it imparts valuable lessons about teamwork.
This will be an extremely useful skill to showcase, especially if you are looking to venture into research work later on.
Keeping himself grounded is one reason “Stranger Things” actor Noah Schnapp has remained a lifeguard.
“It’s kind of a ‘just for fun thing,” he says.
7. Web developer
If you know how to code, then this could be a great job to venture into. After all, you’re already building apps and websites for free — so why not get paid for it?
Plus, any kind of software you create or build can also go into your portfolio to keep — and show off to admissions officers.
Even famous people did it, like Elvis Costello. The singer-songwriter began his professional career as a computer programmer before becoming one of the greatest pop artists of all time.
8. Amusement park attendant
Working as an attendant might seem menial to some, but here are the skills you may require:
- Math: If you want to work the booths, then you will need to be able to count change correctly.
- Mechanics: Operating the rides isn’t as simple as pressing the start and stop buttons.
- Performing: You may be called to play characters.Before joining the world-famous boyband Backstreet Boys, Kevin Richardson was a Disney World employee.
“It was an inspiring, incredible place to come to work every day.”
Even though hospitals only hire people above the age of 18 and ones that usually have degrees, there are lower-ranking jobs that you can still apply for.
Options are numerous; you can start off in nursing wards, elderly care or even assisting paramedics.
Ohio-based Mount Carmel Health System lowered its minimum hiring age to 16 in 2021, with the first 25 hires aged 16 and 17.
The teens worked in areas like environmental services, nutrition services and patient transportation.
“We want to position them well to continue to work for us after they graduate from high school and ultimately matriculate into a nursing programme or another allied health programme,” says Regional Director of Talent Acquisition Rachel Barb.
10. Assistant coaching
Jobs for 14-year-olds don’t need to be only indoors. Everyone loves sports, so why not try working in a role that will allow you to enjoy the outdoors as well?
Being an assistant coach shows your ability to not only play the sport well but also teach and motivate athletes.