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How to Apply to & Interview for Your First Job

Young entrepreneurship isn’t all about starting new businesses and raking in profits. Sometimes you’ll need to get a job working for someone else. It could be that you need a summer gig so you can have enough money to get your startup going. You might take on a job while you wait for your startup to go from covering your investment to making a profit. You might need extra cash for college.

High school jobs can also give you the opportunity to network, find a mentor, and learn to be independent.

But finding a job and getting hired can be stressful, even for adults who’ve been in the workforce for years. As a teen, you probably have the extra problem of not having a resume full of work experience and higher education to show. Thankfully, we know how you can impress your would-be first-time boss no matter what.


Your resume will be the first impression you make when applying for a job. Make it look as good as possible. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of resume templates out there you can use. Look for ones that specialize in resumes for students, teens, or people with no experience.

Some things to keep in mind as you create your resume:

  • Make it as easy as possible for potential employers to contact you. That means putting your name, phone number, and email address in a footer, so it shows up on each page. Add hyperlinks to the top of your first page, too.
  • Add bullet points that are relevant to the job or show what an exceptional young adult you are.
  • You can be creative but stay professional. Be mindful of fonts and graphics.

Don’t be afraid to make everything you’ve done sound like the best thing ever! Have you babysat? Include bullet points that illustrate your capabilities in working with children, preparing meals, and teaching arts and crafts.


  • Awards
  • Certificates
  • Extra-curriculars
  • Honors Societies
  • Sports
  • Any exceptional programs you’ve been accepted to or attended
  • Skills such as typing speed, awesome video content creation, or experience in public speaking

One more thing: many companies use a resume scanner for all incoming applicants. A real human may not see your resume unless it passes the scanner first. The AI in a resume scanner will check for certain keywords. Pull these keywords from the job description itself. Before submitting your resume, run it through a free ATS checker like Resume Worded or  Jobscan. Doing this will help your resume get in front of a real human.


You submitted your resume. And now you’ve received a phone call or email asking you to come in for an interview! Great!

Make sure you prep for the interview. This includes:

-> Researching the company. Who are they? What do they stand for? What have they done recently that impressed you?

-> Understanding the job requirements. If the job description says they expect you to work nights and weekends, don’t walk in there asking for Saturdays off.

-> Prepare answers to common interview questions. Not all interviewers will ask you the same questions. But there are a few standard questions that get asked a lot. Be prepared to answer them without stumbling over yourself. More about these below.

-> Dress appropriately. Even if you’re interviewing for a position as a gas station attendant, dress like you take yourself seriously. Don’t give your interviewer any excuse to reject you based on your appearance.

-> Make sure you’ll arrive on time. Use a GPS app to see how long it will take to get to your interview site. If you have an appointment for Monday at 4pm, try to check the ETA on a weekday around 4pm. This will give you a better idea of what traffic will look like. Do a dry run if you can. Don’t arrive too early but aim to get there about 5-10 minutes before your scheduled time.

-> Practice. Practice your handshake, your smile, and the way you sit. Practice speaking without using filler words that make you sound insincere or nervous.


Be ready to answer these common questions, but also be ready to tailor your answers for the specific job you want.

  • Tell me about yourself. Keep your answer relevant to the job and your school accomplishments. Only mention personal hobbies or interests if they are part of the job.
  • Where do you see yourself in x years? Talk about your college goals and what you hope to achieve after college.
  • What are your strengths? Be sincere. If you know you’re great at time management, say so.
  • What are your weaknesses? Don’t say that you’re a perfectionist or that you work too hard. Be honest in a way that doesn’t contradict the job requirements. And always follow up by explaining how you’re trying to improve that part of yourself.
  • What questions do you have for me? This is where researching the company comes in. Ask about the culture, the company’s future plans, or what the boss liked about previous employees in this role.

Remember to set your phone to silent during the interview.

Be prepared to wait for your interviewer to show up late and be mindful that interviewing you is not their only task today.

Always be polite. Mind your manners. Don’t call anyone by their first name unless they invite you to do so.

Treat everyone you encounter with respect. This includes all cleaning staff, security guards, receptionists, and assistants.

Thank everyone for their time and consideration. It’s ok to ask what the next steps are and how long you can expect to wait before you hear back from them.


Send a thank-you note. Doing so will remind the interviewer of which candidate you are and shows professionalism. It doesn’t have to be long. Simply say, “Thanks again for the interview. I feel like I could be a great fit for XYZ company. I look forward to the next steps in the process!” Send this note as soon as possible after your interview. It’ll help you stand out against other applicants!

We can’t wait to hear about your exciting new job!

Young entrepreneurs who attend high school in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we offer and how to apply.

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