how to find and get jobs in NOVA?
June 20, 2006 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Job opportunities for a teenager in NOVA

I'm a 17 year old living in Northern Virginia close to Seven Corners searching for a job that I could start working ASAP. I'm willing to do work in almost any field from construction to restaurant work and I can speak and understand spanish fairly well. I would be willing to work through the winter. I'm able bodied, intelligent, good with people and willing to work hard if I need to. Thanks in advance for any tips.
posted by bigspoon to Work & Money (14 answers total)
I haven't been in NOVA for a while (3 years or so), but it seems to me that anyone looking for a job who is willing to do almost any kind of work ought to be able to trip over three or four in that area on their way out for gas.
posted by jcummings1974 at 10:39 AM on June 20, 2006

It's easy to find jobs. Check your local paper. Call some places you'd be interested in working for.

What's your actual question?
posted by SpecialK at 10:53 AM on June 20, 2006

The message boards at seem to have quite a few job postings.
posted by box at 11:05 AM on June 20, 2006

Think of some places you're interested in. You mention that you can work in all these areas, so identify the ones you'd most like to be in and then narrow that down to a few companies. For example, if you want to work for a restaurant, you might decide that you want to work for a neighborhood-type national chain. From there you could decide that Applebees, Chili's, and Ruby Tuesday's and a few others are places that you would be interested in working at.

Next, walk in, ask to speak to a manager. If you want, tell them some variation of what you told us, "I would like to work for ___ (name of company here). I can speak and understand spanish fairly well and I would be willing to work through the winter. I'm able bodied, intelligent, good with people and willing to work hard if I need to." (You can leave off that last sentence since it will probably sound cheesy).

The most important thing to say is, "May I have an application?" You could also ask if they are hiring, though you're probably pretty late in the game for a summer job in the suburbs. Keep in mind that practically no one will hire you just because you walk in and announce that you are employable.

For your visits: Dress nicely, go alone, act like an adult. You may get interviewed on the spot. Prepare in advance and try to practice with a parent or friend. You'll probably get questions asking about your previous work experience. If you don't have any, mention that you are active in clubs or something, which has instilled you with a sense of responsibility, leadership, and commitment. Babysitting counts too. You may get asked about how you are with customers. Try to think of some examples of how you're good with people, don't just say that you are good with people. You may get asked about dependability as well. They'll probably ask why you want to work there. That's why you should first start with places you actually want to work at. "Because I want a discount" is NOT a good answer.

Rinse and repeat until you get a job. Sounds like this is your first stab at this, so ignore people that are sarcastic since they might not realize that. However, if you are looking for a job on here, and not tips on how to get a job, then you are indeed in the wrong place.
posted by ml98tu at 11:07 AM on June 20, 2006

p.s. Fill out that application that you requested and turn it back in. I figured that goes without saying, but you never know.

Remember the name of the manager you spoke with on your first visit (I used to bring a little notebook to keep track of the places I went and the manager names) and ask for him/her when you turn the application back in. If that manager isn't there, get a different manager, tell them you spoke to Ms. XYZ the other day about working here, and you wanted to drop off your application. Yeah, it's a little name-droppy, but it's always worked for me. Plus the manager has the application in hand, since those things can very easily get lost when you just give it to some guy at the front desk (who doesn't want his hours to get cut if someone else gets hired). The visit rules I mentioned above apply when you return the application as well, including the acting adult and being prepared for an interview.

Also, talk to family and friends and see if they know of anyone that is hiring or if they have any advice for you.
posted by ml98tu at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2006

Merrifield Garden Center, Craven's Nursery and other garden centers are often looking for help.
posted by TheRaven at 11:48 AM on June 20, 2006

My bad, I probably should have asked how to find and get jobs rather than asking if anyone knew of cool places that were hiring. I'm new here, I thought specifics was the name of the game.
posted by bigspoon at 11:49 AM on June 20, 2006

Temp agencies-- I'm just a bit older than you and working a well-paying full-time job in Tysons through Manpower. It takes an hour or two to fill out their forms (they won't call your references) and an hour or two to take ridiculously easy Word/Excel/Access tests. Job can vary-- generally you'll have 1 or 2 day gigs at the beginning, then they can set you up with something as long-term as you want.
posted by bethm at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2006

I live in Texas, so not quite the same, but my 18-year-old son scoured local businesses, many of them restauraunts, and came up empty. He started hitting them all up again, and the second time through had a good interview with Cracker Barrel on a Thursday; they told him to come back Friday, and he started the following Tuesday (last Tuesday). He's now in training to be a waiter and will probably be waiting tables on his own by the end of the week.

He got pretty discouraged, since most of his friends found jobs pretty quickly and he was one of the last. Then, suddenly, he was employed. I guess the only advice I can offer is to look, look, and look again. Persistence will eventually pay off.

Good luck!
posted by Doohickie at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2006

If you want a good paying job, don't go with "willing to work through the winter" go with "looking to start a career in ____"

If your boss thinks you are in it for the long haul, he or she will be more likely to give you promotions, raises and responsibility.

He or she doesn't need to know if you have other plans until 2 weeks before your last day!!

Some people may think thats rude, but they don't get raises or promotions.
posted by Megafly at 12:31 PM on June 20, 2006

Oh, and the "working through the winter" part should help you; many places are hestitant to train someone who will be leaving at the end of August. One of my son's friends just about had an offer to mix paint at Home Depot for $12/hr, until they found out he was going back to school in the fall. I know Cracker Barrel was pleased when my son said he could work through the end of the year at least.

That is a selling point that may give you an advantage over many of the other job hunters your age.
posted by Doohickie at 12:32 PM on June 20, 2006

Ok, I'm assuming you know about craigslist (everybody does, right???) but just in case, there it is. Many many jobs for folks like you.
posted by gregoryc at 1:42 PM on June 20, 2006

I wouldn't necessarily volunteer any "willing to work through" kind of information. If consistency is important to them they'll ask and if you answer honestly they'll respect that.

If you're in Seven Corners and close to the exact 'where' that people think of as SC itself, there's a number of good places to look for work. Borders and Best Buy, AC Moore, Home Depot - there's a multitude of big businesses always looking for more bodies and you don't need to do anything more complicated than walk in and ask at the customer service counter if they have any positions to fill.

The restaurant business isn't much different, though in my no so humble opinion it's more fun if harder work. You might have an issue getting work as a server - I think VA's law is you have to be 18 to 'serve' meaning you wouldn't be able to take beer to a table, which makes things more trouble for them. You'll get more practice with your spanish too, which is a big plus.

Just do yourself a favor and learn the lesson I didn't get too quickly when I was your age (yeah yeah, nobody could blame you for tuning out any statement that starts that way - sorry) - the most important thing to remember about a job is that you have to go there A LOT. So choosing a place where you don't dread it right off the bat is a good thing if you can manage it. Everybody gets in the mood not to go but if you never like being there it makes it harder.

If there's a place you like to shop, ask there first (though it may ruin any joy the place gives you - be warned). If you really like books or tools, try places that sell those. Doesn't mean it won't be a grind but if there's some stuff around you all day that you like it makes the day go by faster.

Okay, geezer moment over. Good luck!
posted by phearlez at 1:59 PM on June 20, 2006

If you don't really need the money and just want to get work experience, consider volunteering for a not-for-profit or charity. You can get extremely useful work experience (better than anybody will pay a 17-year-old for) simply by being available and enthusiastic. When I was 17, I volunteered for an arts organization which ended up hiring me for my summers through college, and that experience led to much better jobs than my English degree alone would have garnered me.

If you need the money and have trouble finding a job on your own, consider temp agencies. They suck when you're living on your own, because their benefits tend to be non-existent, but since you're still a minor that shouldn't be an issue for you. They will give you tests in using office software (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.) and then place you in very short-term jobs based on how you do on the tests. At first they just get you a day or two, and then when you do okay they give you a week or two, and then if you do okay there, they will trust you with bigger and better things.

The awesome thing about temping is that it exposes you to a lot of different types of work environments so you can get a better sense of which things you enjoy and which interest you, and which you want to avoid like the plague. It can really help you figure out what you want to do with your life.

The sucky things are the lack of benefits and the free time between jobs (and in the long term, the lack of vacation, but you don't want to work for a temp agency for more than a year or so, generally, anyway).

You have to call them every morning to see if they have something for you, or they forget about you.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:46 PM on June 20, 2006

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