Get a Head Start On Your Summer Job

The time to look for your summer job is NOW!

Lifeguard Summer Job
Lifeguard Summer Job

Ah, the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer. But what about the bored, broke, sick-of-watching-daytime-TV, get-into-trouble-because-you-have-nothing-to-do days of summer?

You can avoid the bored, broke, etc., etc. days of summer by getting a job. You’ll make money, have something to do, and – if you work it right – have a good time doing it.

The school year may not be over yet, but the time to make your move towards getting a summer job is now. The longer you wait, the fewer choices you’ll have – and we all know how people who have AD/HD feel about being forced to do something they don’t want to do. You can avoid at least some of that by taking control of the situation and choosing what you want to do instead of having to pick from what’s leftover or not finding anything at all.

Job Advice for the Very, Very Brave

The first rule of having a great job is to find something you would do for free and then figure out a way to get paid doing it.

For example, I found something that I would do for free (hang out on the computer and write) and I figured out a way to get paid doing it. Therefore, ergo, subsequently (take your pick), I don’t go to work. I get up and start doing what I would be doing anyway whether I got paid for it or not. Fortunately, I do get paid for it, which is a good thing because I don’t think I could handle having to go to work each day.

I would recommend that you do the same. Find something that you would do anyway and figure out a way to get paid doing it. Do you like to hang out at the pool? Then get paid to be a lifeguard, swimming instructor, or something else that lets you hang out at the pool. Do you like to exercise? Get a job in a warehouse lifting boxes or something else that uses some muscle. If you like to shop, then get a job selling clothes in the mall so you can get paid to spend all day helping other people shop.

I say that I don’t have a job, but the reality is that even I have days when I have to work. You will, too. But, at least you know that eventually you can get back to the part of the job that you really like. That’s much better than waking up in the morning and dreading going to work.

Speaking of going to work…

Finding a job can be a job in itself. Unfortunately, looking for a job doesn’t pay as well as actually having a job does. You wouldn’t want to make a career of doing job interviews. The ideas in the article Job Hunt Tips for ADHD Adults also apply to teens who are looking for work. Another article, Communication Skills and Your Career may also be helpful.

ADDitude’s Coach On Call, Sandy Maynard, talks about what you should say in a job interview, including The 50 Most Common Questions Asked by Employers. Granted, the average manager at Burger King probably isn’t going to into this much detail, but other potential employers may – especially if it’s a job that has long-term potential.

Get Creative

Steven is a 16-year-old computer guru. He wanted to get a job in a computer repair shop, but there were no openings. He was just about to give up on the idea of spending the summer fixing computers when a friend of his mother’s asked him if he could teach her how to send an email to her grandchildren.

Steven showed her what she needed to know. The grateful lady offered to pay him $25 for his trouble. She also told some of her friends about how helpful Steven had been, and soon there were other grandparents calling to ask for his help.

It didn’t take long before Steven had a regular clientele of older people who wanted to learn to use a computer. Many of them also needed some basic repair and upgrades on their machines. Steven did what he was able to do and referred the major overhauls to the local repair shop.

At $25 per hour, Steven is making more by working for himself than most 16-year-olds could hope for – and he’s having fun doing it.

Showing grandma how to send emails may not be your idea of a great way to spend your summer. But, with a little imagination, you can probably think of several other ideas for your own business. Here are some ideas to get your started:

  • The Big Cash Clean Up Your bedroom may look like a bomb went off, but getting paid to clean puts a new excitement into running a vacuum. People like having a clean home (or garage, or car, or you name it) but few are able to take the time to do it.
  • Mowing for Money The same thing applies to yards. People like to have neatly trimmed, well-watered, picture-perfect lawns, but most don’t have the time or energy after working all week to work all day in the yard. You can make your town beautiful and make yourself a healthy summer income by meeting that need.
  • Cash in on Canines (or cats, or birds, or gerbils) People who have pets often need someone who can take care of their furry little friends while they’re away. This might be a challenge for a person who has AD/HD because it requires being there every day. But, if you can manage to find a way to establish that routine, you can make a lot of money by baby sitting your neighbors’ furry friends.
  • Speedy Delivery! If you have a bike and a pair of strong legs, why not open your own courier service? It’s a great way to earn money and work on your tan at the same time.
  • What can you think of? These are only a few ideas. Use your imagination to come up with some more creative answers for your summer employment problem.

Then again…

In a perfect world, everyone would have a job they love. But, this isn’t a perfect world, which explains why some people have to work at McDonald’s. Actually, one could argue that the fact that McDonald’s even exists is in itself proof of an imperfect universe, but I digress.

If you can’t find a job that connects to something you love to do, then you might consider looking for a job that provides the money to do what you want to do. Knowing that your hard work is going to result in a better car, some new clothes or even just some extra cash to blow on the weekend can make the workday seem a little more rewarding. Instead of focusing on the work, focus on the benefits that come with having a job.

Thinking about the positive things that your job can bring will help you appreciate the job and can even provide the motivation to make it through those long afternoons when you’re pushing shopping carts around the parking lot.

Your AD/HD: To Tell or Not To Tell

Having a job isn’t like going to school. Your employer probably knows even less about AD/HD than your teachers do. What’s more, you’re being paid to work and people tend to expect you to stay on task. This can be a real challenge for someone who has AD/HD and is all the more reason why you should find some way to keep yourself motivated.

You’re not required to tell your employer that you have AD/HD. My advice: keep your mouth shut. If you were going to spend your life in this particular job, then you might think about saying something about your AD/HD and what can be done to help. But, for a summer job, it’s just not worth the hassle.

Sometimes the best information is no information at all. If you tell your employer that you have AD/HD, then you run the very real risk of having that information used against you – even if your employer doesn’t mean to. People tend to find what they are looking for, and if you say, “I have AD/HD,” then your employer may start looking for you to be wasting time and causing trouble. Fight the impulse to talk about it and just focus on doing the job.

There are some accommodations that you can make for yourself that can help you compensate for your AD/HD. Learn to repeat instructions back to the person who is talking to you, like this:

Employer: Why don’t you fold those boxes and put them on the second shelf?

You: OK, I’ll fold the boxes and put them on the second shelf.

For longer directions and other important information, make a habit of carrying a notepad and a pen and writing it down. Some people like to use a Palm Pilot to accomplish this same thing, but I’ve found that notepads are cheaper and I don’t feel as bad when I lose them. Use whatever works best for you.

What about medications?

The day you start a new job is not the time to decide to stop taking meds. If you function better on Ritalin or some other medication, then do everybody a favor and stick with it over the summer just like you would during the school year. Be discreet about any medications that you may need. Employers don’t like to see their employees popping pills at work, especially when that pill is a Schedule II drug that has a reputation for being abused, like Ritalin, Dexedrine or Adderall. You can avoid this by using one of the once-daily medications.

Drug Testing

Depending on your job, you may be required to take a drug test. AD/HD medications will show up as “hot” for amphetamine use. This could cause problems unless you know how to handle it.

If your employer requires you to “fill up the cup,” then be sure that you have a note from your doctor explaining that you are taking medications that will probably show up on the drug test. You don’t have to show this note to your employer. But, you will need to show it to whomever is running the test, usually the doctor or some other health care worker. As long as you have the proper documentation to show that you are taking this medication under a physician’s care, you probably won’t have any problems.

Attitude Is Everything

Most people who are miserable in one place are going to be miserable in most places. Try to have a positive attitude about your summer job and the people that you’re working with. Little things like saying, “Hello” and smiling at people when you come to work can make a big difference in how people feel about you and how you feel about your job.

A summer job is a great way spend your time and make some cash. Avoid the rush and start your job search today!