Getting a Job as a Teenager in Hunterdon County

Getting a Job as a Teenager in Hunterdon County

Sofia Nyez, Editor-in-Chief

It’s almost a rite of passage to have your first job during high school. Many people fondly, or perhaps not so fondly, remember their first time in the workforce. A job can be a great way to stay busy, meet new people, get work experience, boost your college applications, and earn a bit of money. 


Holding a part-time job while also attending high school is no small task. High school comes with it’s fair share of responsibilities, like having to attend classes, do homework, and study. Not to mention that most students are involved in extracurricular activities within or outside of school that take up time in the afternoon and on weekends. It can be difficult to find time for a part-time job. And if you do find that time, you’re most likely sacrificing some part of your social life. A job can just be another responsibility for an already stressed student. It’s important to consider your specific personality and situation when choosing a job, if any. If you’re someone who already has a loaded schedule with clubs and difficult classes on your plate, maybe a part-time job would be better in the summer. If you find yourself with a bit of extra room in your schedule, a part-time job would be perfect. Your social life and blocking out time to rest are important as well. 


Once you decide you do want a job, the next step is to decide where. Most places hire 16 or 17-year-olds, but it’s important to verify the age minimum before applying. If you’re under 16, there are still a few options. You can do seasonal work at a day camp or family farm, but the laws are a bit stricter. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, those under 16 cannot work more than 3 hours per day or 18 hours per week during school. During breaks, youth workers can work up to 8 hours per day between 7am-7pm. You should keep in mind that you’ll have a bit more trouble finding an employer if you’re under 16, and if you do you won’t have many options. 


If you are 16, you have more options available. Many service jobs open applications at 16, some at 17, depending on the company. They can work up to 40 hours a week, but restrictions apply. According to New Jersey Child Labor Standards, minors under 18 are not permitted to work more than 5 hours without break or 8 hours in a day. During the school year, 16-year-olds are not permitted to work between 7pm-7am and 17-year-olds between 11pm-6am. This is important for your health, so be sure to bring up any concerns with your employer.


Before finding a location, it’s important to build a resume. This is a skill you will need for your future, so it’s great to get experience with this now. Most employers like job experience (especially relevant experience), but this is not always possible if you’re applying for your first job. Employers will understand this if you’re a teenager because most teenagers are applying for the first time. If you don’t have any job experience, include anything relevant. Volunteering, outside activities, and schoolwork can all be relevant when you explain them correctly. 


As far as deciding where to lend you time and labor, there are a few different methods. Flemington is a great place to get a first job because there are so many stores and restaurants. One method is talking to real people around town. Talk to your family and friends, see if they know anyone, or recommend a place. If you can, talk to someone who has worked the service job you’re looking at and get their advice of whether you should apply. If that doesn’t work, walk around town yourself. Take note of places that catch your eye. Maybe it’s your favorite clothing store, the new restaurant, or the diner you’ve been going to with your family for years. If somewhere interests you, head in. Ask one of the employees for a manager, and then ask the manager if they’re hiring. The good news is that right now, most service jobs are hiring. There is a severe lack of service workers, which is a good thing when you’re in the position of a prospective employee. If they say no though, don’t be discouraged, you’ll find a great place soon. If they do say yes, you need to be prepared. It may vary on place and business, but a manager may be prepared to interview you on the spot. Bring your resume with you, dress well (nothing too fancy, just no ripped jeans or crop tops), and be mentally prepared to potentially answer interview questions. A manager may just ask for a copy of your resume and schedule a future interview when it’s convenient for them. If you don’t like asking in-person, you can also look online. Online resources such as are great for not only finding out information about a potential employer but easily submitting your resume. 


Once you get your resume in, be prepared to interview. Interviewers are going to ask you about yourself, so expect to talk about that. If you don’t have previous work experience, be able to talk about your other activities in a way that is relevant to working. For example, if you’re on a sports team, you can talk about having to communicate and collaborate with your teammates to achieve a common goal. If you’re the leader of a club, you can talk about times you’ve had to solve problems and lead people. Use your strengths to your advantage, and don’t shy away from giving yourself credit for your accomplishments. Don’t be arrogant, but an interview is not the time to be overly humble. Employers want to see that this teenager they’re hiring is reliable, responsible, and hardworking. Do your best to highlight that in your responses. If you need to take a moment to think of a response to their question, that’s totally fine. An answer 30 seconds late is better than a half-baked one. Be eloquent and confident, try not to freeze up. And if you’re having anxiety about interviewing, just remember this is something everyone struggles with and you’ll get better with practice. If you don’t get the job, it’s not the end of the world. There are many other great places in Flemington you can try your luck at. 


When you do get a job offer, you’re still not done. Because you’re a high school student, you have to fill out paperwork called “working papers” through the school. How this process works is you need to have a job offer first to be able to complete your working papers. You will need to fill out this form which includes the signature of your employer, parent, doctor, and you. You will also need to fill out a bit of information about the job itself such as the hours you’ll be working. Once the form is completed, email it to [email protected] and they should approve it within a few days. For more information, search “working papers” on the Central website or call the house office. Your employer will ask how soon you can start, and you will have to tell them about this procedure. However, it shouldn’t take very long, depending on how long it takes to get all the signatures. Once this is completed and any other paperwork or background information from your employer has been received, you can begin your brand-new first ever job. 


The most important thing to remember is to be conscious about your decision. You have your whole life ahead of you to work, and you’re only in high school once. If you decide getting a job is what’s best for you right now, choose carefully and keep your health a top priority.