And the word of the day is verbosity
June 18, 2011 7:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm fifteen in Orlando, Florida. Where can I get a job?

So far I've only applied to Publix (a regional supermarket chain), but I can't find anywhere else that accepts fifteen year olds. I have looked into telemarketing because I heard some companies, namely State Farm, accept teenagers, but am not entirely sure where to start. I would not like to do chores for my parents; I'm looking for financial independence. I'm not looking to do odd jobs for neighbors like babysitting or yard work, pool cleaning, etc. either. Most of them have been picked up by other kids, and I'd really rather have a part-time job where I can get a regular paycheck.

The problem, as I'm sure it is for many others, is finding a company/business that is willing to, or can legally hire me. I would love getting a peek at anything math or science related, but I'm fine with doing busywork, heck I'd be happy being a receptionist and answering phone calls, entering data, or stocking shelves.

Do you know of any companies that hire kids my age? Or who I should approach, or (for locals) any small businesses or mom-and-pop stores that would consider me? Perhaps point me in the right direction to find child labor laws for Orlando, because for some reason I can't find them. Anecdotes and any advice related to this would be great as well.

I'll be at UCF a lot next year, would a fifteen year old have any chance getting an internship or something similar? If so, how would I go about approaching a professor over the summer?

Bonus question: What survey-based or similar website have you had success making some money with? Are there any out there that actually care about who you are (consumer data, market research, etc.) rather than just getting your address to send you junk mail?
posted by hotdiggitydog to Work & Money (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
McDonald's often hires 15 year olds on limited schedules.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:52 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You may have more luck with Mom and Pops than with national chains.

Conversely, some local governments and public institutions will hire or even have employment programs for 15-year-olds (library aide, junior summer camp councilor, lifeguard).

You may be able to find private lifeguarding work too if you get certified. Talk to your local Red Cross chapter.

Child labor laws in Florida. Specific content for teens and parents.
posted by Jahaza at 8:22 PM on June 18, 2011

Here's a summary of Florida child labor laws. It looks like fifteen-year-olds can work eight-hour days and forty-hour weeks in the summer, and you can't work before 7:00 AM or after 9:00 PM. You don't need a work permit. You probably will need some sort of proof of age (like a birth certificate), and you'll need a social security number.

Typically, teenagers get jobs in fast food and retail. You usually get these jobs by seeing a "help wanted" sign in a window, going in, and asking for an application. You'll probably fill out the application and leave it with the sales person, and then a manager will call you and have you come in for an interview. It's possible that the manager will be working, so when you go to look for help-wanted signs, be dressed reasonably neatly, and don't go with a friend.

Since you're too young to drive, they may worry about how you'll get there. You should have an answer for that, and it's better if you can get there independently by walking or on public transit.

Good luck! My first job was at a bagel bakery. It was awful on several levels, but it was really nice to have money of my own.
posted by craichead at 8:24 PM on June 18, 2011

You need to find a neighborhood full of wealthy retired people (shouldn't be a problem in Florida). Leave flyers on every doorstep offering lawncare and other services for a negotiable price. Then just make yourself available and willing to do most types of tedious work for a fraction of a professional's cost, and your name will spread around the neighborhood.
posted by Think_Long at 8:30 PM on June 18, 2011

My first job at age 16 was working for minimum wage as a grader / lab instructor at a university I attended part-time, so that does happen. Most campus jobs will be for people with federal work study allotments though, and UCF may have additional limitations on employing part-time / non-degree students. Probably the payroll or financial aid departments can tell you about those limitations, and then you just have to hunt around campus for places that hire students. I see the UCF library has an online application form for currently enrolled students.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:31 PM on June 18, 2011

Try ice cream and frozen yogurt shops. That's where I worked as a teen mumblety years ago, and it was less awful than being a grill drone at McDonald's and such.
posted by Addlepated at 8:36 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Winn Dixie hired 15 year olds back in 1998, so I assume they still do. Do they still have any WD's in Orlando? I know they closed a bunch but I still see them on the east coast and South Florida.
posted by gatorae at 8:41 PM on June 18, 2011

If you're desperate, you might try local golf courses or other places places with event rooms that need dishwashers and busboys for busier than average times. A grocery store gig is much better, though. Dress nicely when you drop off your resume and go back a couple of times with a fresh one, to show that you are very interested. Also, at age 15 I think it's reasonable to expect your family to network in a way that helps you land that first job. Bug your Mum and Dad to put the word out.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:52 PM on June 18, 2011

My first job (at 13) was at an ice cream parlour, a mom-n-pop operation, so second both those recommendations... I daringly lied about my age and said I was 14.

If you are dropping off applications apropos of help wanted signs -- ask to speak with a manager, and then cheerfully introduce yourself and try to sell yourself a bit while giving the application to the manager. Be confident. If you get a friendly vibe ask "May I call you to schedule an interview?"

Be warned that your first job will do a great deal to determine the rest of your teen/early twenties working years; if you want to wait tables later on, apply to be a busboy now; if you want to work in swish retail stores later, apply to stock shelves at discount stores now. Consider the career path, so to speak. Don't totally discount McD et al; by the end of high school there were a few people with enviable income because they were by then managing at their fast-food jobs.

You are not too young for "networking" -- lucky teenagers get good jobs via their friends' parents, so work that angle if it's available to you.

Clean yourself up and dress really well, neat and conservatively fashionable, I got a few good jobs (receptionist despite no experience and relatively youth, web stuff despite slight ditto) by dressing up to the point where I got mistaken for much older (I peeked at the interviewer's notes).
posted by kmennie at 8:53 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I suspect that many jobs traditionally held by teenagers are held these days by adults with reliable transport and no school obligations.

Mandatory personal anecdote: my first teenage job was at 16, pushing shopping carts around a supermarket parking lot, in upstate NY, in winter. Kids who worked at the Wegman's two blocks away got colorful winter ponchos, but the store I worked at was too cheap. Then one day somebody on the janitorial staff didn't show up and the manager wanted me to go clean up a mess in the bathroom. At that point I decided that a supermarket job is not always worth it.
posted by Nomyte at 8:58 PM on June 18, 2011

Ha. I remember Publix being the goto place for a bagging job once you hit 14. But there was always a long waiting list, and I was never hired. At 15, I got my second job at a Subway sandwich shop in South Florida (making $3.35/hour!!). Granted, this was 1987, so their policies may have changed with regard to age, but I say it's worth a shot.

My first job was delivering newspapers, but I'm sure you don't need advice loaded with anachronisms.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:00 PM on June 18, 2011

I don't have any past work experience. What else is there to put on a resume? And what sort of thing should I say to the manager if I get to talk to one?
posted by hotdiggitydog at 9:11 PM on June 18, 2011

Resume should include your school and your GPA if it is good and any honors or extra curriculars.

More importantly. Find 3-5 non-related adults that can say you're responsible. If you babysat or something for them, all the better. Find those now because it'll be on the app.

Put all info on the app even if it is already on your resume.
posted by k8t at 9:27 PM on June 18, 2011

For a high school resume, list any clubs or organizations you belong to. Volunteer work, sports, any sort of extracurricular activities. List relevant skills - languages, computer/office skills. Any sort of academic awards, or any other awards/honors. List if you made honor roll, or are in honors/AP classes. Any college courses in progress as well.

Work whatever connections you have. My first job at 16 was cleaning the office of a family member's business, and whatever else no one wanted to do. Paid under the table.

Talk confidently, clearly, and positively. For a basic job, smarts will be figured out eventually, but eagerness and a good attitude will get you in.
posted by shinyshiny at 9:28 PM on June 18, 2011

At fifteen in Ft. Lauderdale I got a job at a movie theater (the concession stand). Free movies, woo! However, I was fired for not properly cleaning the nacho cheese cooker. Take that as you will.
posted by Glinn at 9:40 PM on June 18, 2011

Do you have any friends with jobs? That's how I got my first job in high school. At a bookstore. Loved it.

Other people to hit up for leads include teachers you get along with, relatives, relatives friends, parents friends, neighbors.
posted by grapesaresour at 9:40 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not that kmennie was recommending this, but don't lie about your age. You want whatever company that hires you to be reputable enough to check that you are who you say you are before they start paying you.
posted by pupstocks at 9:42 PM on June 18, 2011

Oh yes, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I made a fistful of cash from babysitting from the time I was about 12 until I was 16 or so (and I only stopped because I got a driver's license and was under my own power to get around town then). Being female helps with this, so if you're a dude, that may be a problem. I started out sitting for neighbors and relatives, and after time they referred me to all their friends and I was booked solid every weekend, oftentimes all day and night.
posted by Addlepated at 10:38 PM on June 18, 2011

As for an internship at UCF, it's possible, even if it's a long shot. Additionally, that's the type of job that could really help out with your college applications in a few years.

My first job (interviewed when I was 15, started the summer I was 16) was as an intern in an research group at the local university. Of course, I got lucky - my school librarian made the introduction, I just had to show up for the interview and seem smart and enthusiastic.

If you want to work at the university, there are a few things to try:
* Of course, networking will be your best bet. Do you know anybody who knows somebody involved in research?
* try to figure out if there is any sort of program at the school that aims to introduce freshmen to research. The profs involved in this type of a program are already used to dealing with younger students, and might be more willing to give you a shot.
* if you're taking a class at UCF, get to know your prof. Sincerely ask for advice/resources for your situation
posted by Metasyntactic at 11:29 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you have friends whose parents own businesses, or are high up in businesses, they may be able to get you much cushier jobs than you could find on your own. My first job one summer when I was 14 was working in a bank where my best friend's father was manager, mainly filing paperwork and stuffing envelopes. But it paid twice minimum wage, was indoors, and didn't have to deal with customers. It was 10 years before I ever had another job that good.
posted by lollusc at 1:25 AM on June 19, 2011

Actually, to be honest, I was 10, but my friend's father lied for us and said we were 14. I don't really recommend that either, but at 15 you shouldn't have to lie.
posted by lollusc at 1:26 AM on June 19, 2011

When I was fifteen in Orlando, I worked for friends of my parents as an office assistant. You might see if your parents have lawyers or accountants or friends of any sort who might need someone to file papers and run errands.
posted by judith at 2:17 AM on June 19, 2011

When I was in grad school, my advisor had a high school intern for a summer. I believe he had connections via a science teacher at his own school. Is there anyone you can talk to locally about this? If not, don't be afraid to look at UCF's website to find and e-mail people you think you'd be interested in working for.

Don't expect for it to be paid, though.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 7:02 AM on June 19, 2011

My graduate labs both hired high school students for summer jobs on occasion. There was usually some connection like they were faculty kids or someone knew their parents from somewhere else, but we also got one referral from a high school science teacher, as someone mentioned above.

I'm about to be a professor myself and I would say I would definitely give a chance to any high school student who read my website and emailed to say that they were interested in what I do and would like to work for me. I probably wouldn't expect 40 hours a week or give them huge responsibilities, but I would admire the initiative enough to give them a chance if I had the funds.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:22 AM on June 19, 2011

I'm actually a senior next year, so I don't have much time left before college, which was why I was thinking about getting some school-related work. Would talking to my academic advisor help or should I go straight to professors? Would emailing or meeting in person work better?

I hadn't given networking a second thought before, but I'm starting to remember the countless stories from my parents about friends who are accountants and lawyers, who have children that are doctors, businessmen, etc. so I'll give that a shot.

Thank you to EVERYONE that answered. You've given me a lot to start with!
posted by hotdiggitydog at 8:47 AM on June 19, 2011

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