rebelling against low expectations

12 Tips On Finding The (Perfect) First Job


Last autumn, it happened. All of my fear, excitement, trepidation, dreaming, praying, hoping, and searching ended.

I got my first job.

It was a momentous occasion. A first job usually is. Ask almost any adult what their first job was and they’ll grin and tell you a dozen stories about it.

As I look back on that experience, there are twelve things I learned about looking for a job (first, or otherwise) as a teenager.

1. Don’t make it about money.

Sure, you may need the job for money – and that’s okay. I got my first job because I needed to pay for car insurance. But don’t let money be your focus or you’ll miss out on unexpected and potentially rich opportunities.

Instead of asking where you can make the most money, ask, “Is this where God is calling me to work diligently and serve?”

2. Keep your convictions.

There are many workplaces that I avoided simply because I couldn’t stand behind their products. Their clothes were desperately immodest. Or they sold pornography. Or they advocated organizations or items that simply opposed my convictions. Don’t compromise your standards.

No number on a pay check is worth sacrificing what you believe.

3. Communicate with your parents.

If this is your first job and you’re still living in your parents’ home, keep the communication lines open with them. My mom actually drove me to my first interview. She edited my resume. We prayed with my dad. They always knew exactly what was going on with the job search, what my feelings were, and how to counsel me.

4. Think outside the box.

Look at the classifieds and the help wanted pages, but don’t be afraid to drop off a resume at a place that isn’t publicly looking for help. That’s what I did, and my initiative won me an interview and, later, the job. The assistant manager was so surprised. “How did you know we were hiring?” she asked. My ever so eloquent answer: “I didn’t.” I simply knew that I wanted to work there.

5. Pursue the impossible.

Don’t be afraid to go after the job that you really want – even if you seem unqualified. Even if it seems unattainable. Even if they laugh at you. Even if you don’t get it. Teenagers can do incredible, inexplicable things. We can take responsibility and do big, hard, exciting jobs. You and I both know it.

So apply for one.

6. Be creative about your experience.

I felt like my resume was pretty pathetic. I had no job experience. But I did have plenty of volunteer experience. I had helped with my church’s kids club. I had tutored at the library. I had volunteered with a theater company.

You may not have job experience, but you do have experience. Be creative with it on your resume. At the same time, never sacrifice honesty. Integrity is key in the job search.

But think about the experience you have. Maybe it’s as unglamorous as caring for your siblings or helping at VBS. Yet when I got an interview for the job I wanted, the manager told me, “Some people might think all this volunteering with no actual job experience is a negative, but I see it as an asset. Don’t be ashamed of it.”

7. Get informed.

I’m blessed to have a job counselor go to my church. As soon as I started my search, I invited her over for tea and we sat down together. With a wealth of experience, she gave me advice on resume writing, interviewing, and general tricks of the trade.

You may not have access to a job counselor, but you do have access to other people who work. Ask the employees you know to see their resumes. Quiz them on interview advice. And use the internet. Yes, there’s dreadfully incompetent counsel out there, but there are also some really great tips.

Get informed about your job search.

8. Don’t idolize the search.

But don’t let the search become an end in itself. Don’t let it consume you. It will be tempting to take this thing that is good and make it into something sinful.

Remember that your priority in this search is to glorify God.

Paul’s oft-quoted command is equally relevant here: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do [whether you’re looking for a first job or drafting a resume or attending an interview] do it all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

9. Refuse a job that will take you away from the church.

Since I work a job with shifts that change from week to week, I have to be fairly flexible when it comes to availability. And I am. But not when it comes to Sundays. When I was hired, I was completely honest with my manager: I could never work Sundays or Wednesday nights (I wasn’t giving up Bible Study either). As much as I wanted this job, church was more important.

The local church is the lifeblood of the Christian. We need community. I’ve seen the effects of teenagers who take jobs that cut off their church relationships. It’s devastating. I’m not saying that there aren’t exceptions, but if you have a choice, don’t choose a job that will inevitably take you away from church.

10. Practice patience.

There are rare cases, but most job searches are lengthy processes. I got my first job a few weeks after I started looking – and that was fast. I know a guy my age who has been looking for a job for over a year.

Cultivate patience as you look. Impatience will breed carelessness and hastiness. You don’t want to grab onto any job you may be hired for. Patience allows you to weigh your options and consider what is the best fit for you – even if you have to wait for it.

11. Think about the future.

I promise you, the rose-colored glasses will crack.

The initial, euphoric delight you have in a job will wear away. That is why it is essential that you look down the road.

Ask yourself these questions. Will this job present an environment where I can foster godliness? Will my co-workers present stumbling blocks to me? Is this environment one of unity or is there dissension? Will this workplace ultimately benefit me or be destructive?

12. Trust God.

It can seem like a tack-on, but this is really the central thought that must underpin our job search. God is in control. His ways are higher than our ways. He has our future planned out. Trust Him with the search. Trust Him if He gives you a job. Trust Him if He doesn’t. Trust Him because He is so much better than a job.

Trust Him because He is working to advance your joy in Him – whether that means granting you a job or keeping you from the wrong one.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

There are currently 9 Comment(s)

Photo courtesy of Ben Raynal and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris

is the former editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway). She's the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and hosts a podcast for youth called Age of Minority. She's married to Joe and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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  • Wow! These are such thoughtful points. It’s so refreshing to know that there are still teens who prioritize Church over work. The line where you said, “No number on a paycheck is worth sacrificing what you believe”, is so true. Thanks for sharing this, Jaquelle 🙂

  • Great tips!
    Personally, I am blessed to have the best part-time job I could think of… Church organist!!!!!!

      • Ooh! *gets excited*
        How many manuals on the organ you practice on?
        Pipe organ or electronic organ?
        Stops on the side that you pull or switches in front that you push?
        Do you play mostly hymns, or do you do all the fugues and chorales too?
        Is there a 32 foot stop for the pedals?
        *refrains from asking more organ questions…*

        • I practise on a pipe organ at a church, and also on an electronic organ at home. The pipe organ has mechanical action and stops knobs on the side, but the electronic organ has tabs at the front. They both have two manuals. For the electronic I use Hauptwerk software. (It’s really good!) And, no, neither of them has a 32′ pedal stop… 🙁

          I actually mostly play Classical organ music rather than hymns. 🙂 At the moment I’m working through the chorales in the Orgelbüchlein by Bach. What sort of music do you play?

  • Oh my goodness, THANK YOU!!! I’m so thrilled that someone wrote this. I’ve been considering getting a job at the end of the summer, but I didn’t really know what to do.

  • This is great! I’m very thankful to have a good casual job that pays well and doesn’t take away from crucial activities (like church). Sure, its in fast food, and I could think of other workplaces I might rather work, but overall it’s great.
    And you got a job to pay for car insurance too?????!!!!! Same here! I freaked out for a second when I read that. “Did I write this in my sleep or something?!” 😛

    • Only reason I don’t have a job for car insurance is I don’t have a car, therefore I don’t need insurance for one. 😀

      • Well, nor do I, but the insurance premium is REALLY high if I (and under-25yo) drive my parent’s car, so my parents said that I have to save up enough to be able to pay it if I have a crash in their car.

        • Yeah… It’s called the deductible (Grandmother in insurance, so I’m up on lingo. :p) That’s what you think and you’re a girl!!! Guys are at least $200 more per month!

          • Really? Woah! Although I’m in Australia, idk if they have the male=more thing here…

          • Yeah… pretty steep here. They assume that we will fit the stereotype of reckless drugged and drunk driving, so they let us pay for the privilege of being stereotyped.

  • I love point 9!!! I’ll be starting to look in the next several months, so this should be useful. 😉

  • Great article! I really like 1. 2. and 9. but they are all good. I hardly ever think about money and I definitely don’t work for money I could work and not be paid and I still wouldn’t mind I really like my job I guess! I never work sunday but I do work if I need to midweek. I understand some jobs have to be done on a sunday but if it’s not necessary why do it?

        • Cool. Sounds like an interesting job! May I ask what sort of farm? Cuz animal farms are a lot different that vegetable farms…

          • I live in the UK and where I live there is mostly animal farms, but I mostly do the tractor work rather than taking care of the animals.

          • My uncle lives in Portsmouth. Not exactly sure where that is. We have a lot of very distant relatives in England, but I have no clue who they are or where they live. I think it’s pretty spread out. Just thought it was cool that you guys have a farm in England, since that’s pretty well my dad’s ancestry! Thanks!

          • no kidding! small world. I asked my mom if she’s ever been to Cornwall since it sounded awfully familiar to me. She wasn’t sure, but she thinks that she and my dad went there.

          • Really? Yeah Cornwall is a great holiday attraction place. lot’s of people come here for the peace and quiet! I’m right up the top of cornwall just about on the border of Devon near a town called Bude.

          • okay. You lost me at England 😛 But seriously, my parents went up there when they were first married so my dad could show my mom all the places he hung out as a kid. They went all through England and part of Wales and they have some super cool stories about it! Unfortunately, I haven’t been to England since I was three and don’t remember much about it. But my mom and I want to visit, someday, in the future!

          • my geography there is really bad. And my dad confirmed that they have been to Cornwall, I should ask him specifically where though. Hey, so thanks for talking to me about this!

  • Thank you so much for this post!!!! I am
    actually in the process of looking for a job , and this is very helpful! All your points are helpful, especially 12. Thanks 🙂

  • What is interesting is that this post was posted on the 3rd – sixth day of the week, the end of the work week – and my mother emailed it to me, and I saw it on the 6th – second day of the week, the start of the work week.

    What is perhaps stranger is that I had decided, the evening before I saw this, to work three hours per day, from the second through the sixth of the week, finding a job and trying various work from home ventures.

  • okay, but what if I do need a job that pays more because I have to pay my way through college. I can’t take a low paying job if I want to get into medical school. Then what?

    • I think probably all the same things apply, except the one that says you shouldn’t make money an object. I mean if it’s an urgent thing, then you may have to compromise. But that’s when you have to go back to #12, and pray a lot to make sure you are choosing a job that will be ideal for your relationship with God.

      • Great advice. I have three more years of high school, but things are already tight. We live on a pastor’s salary so my parents can’t help much at all. I’m already stressing since I want to get into a private, Christian school but they’re expensive!! 🙂

          • Same! I go to public school, but I’ll be taking PreCalc next year which is technically a Jr/sr class 🙂

          • Ohhhh I’ll be in chem too. I don’t like science really, though. Except psychology. I love psychology.

          • I think I want to be an athletic psychologist for a college women’s basketball team. But we’ll see. I have a couple other ideas too.

          • And yeah my family has a fairly tight budget, too. My mom had to get into school on all scholarships, so maybe you could work on that. It is most certainly possible to get into school on scholarships alone. Not that you wouldn’t need to work too, though.

          • it would be nice, but unfortunately I’m not that smart. I’m lucky if I can pass each year. I would like to, but I’m not sure I have the brains to do it. 😛

          • There are scholarships for lots of things. What are your strengths? It doesn’t have to be in school. I mean, there are some scholarships for things as random as being a redhead… You’d be amazed. And of course, anything is possible with God.

          • that’s what my mom told me. She got through college without debt and is about as brilliant as me. I love english, music, sports, history, and shopping! Is there a scholarship for shopping? 😛

          • Haha actually I would be willing to bet that there is one if you look hard enough. There’s lots of them for music I bet though. Do you sing? What instruments do you play?

          • I sing (sort of) but am an instrumentalist at heart. I play violin and piano! Hoping to add a banjo into the mix though soon. I think I’d aim for scholarships with music especially since I want to minor in composing. Do you play any instruments?

          • Yes, I love to sing. My youth group is very, very musically oriented, and when I was on a mission trip with about 25 of them last week we’d just break into worship songs all the time and it was wonderful. I also play trombone though, which is a lot of fun. There’s only a couple girls who do that, and I think I’m the only introvert in the mix. But it’s good 🙂

      • and guess what happened!!! totally a God thing. I got the opportunity to work at our Christian Camp on Sunday, just sent over the application. Something I have always dreamed of doing! 🙂 So excited. And your youth group sounds really good. Can I come?! 😛

        • Yay!!! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His steadfast love endures forever! Haha I wish you could come! But I’m guessing we don’t live anywhere near each other 😛

  • This will be great to come back to when I’m a little older and ready for a job search ;). For now it’s all volunteering like crazyyyyy… I almost prefer that over work

  • This is great. I am almost definitely going to get a Job next year, so I will make sure to come back to this…

    also, #rccfuge15

  • I am volunteering once a week at the public library, and they asked me to shelve some violent-looking dvds. Should I tell the librarians that I’m not supposed to be messing with this kind of movie, and only quit that part of the assignment, or would that be compromising?

    • Hi Claire. Sorry it took a few days to get back. This is a tough question and I believe a big matter of conscience. I’d suggest talking to your parents and considering whether this is something that you can do to glorify God. I’d probably ask myself the question, “Can I do this cheerfully and willingly with a clear conscience before God?” And that is something that, in this case, only you can answer. 🙂 I hope I helped!

  • I am only 16 and He brought the job (being a lifeguarder) to me when I wasn’t even looking for one! I overheard my friend talking about it and it sounded like a wonderful way to spend my summer, and sure enough they felt me qualified enough to lifeguard at one of the largest water parks in my state! Could not be more thankful, I have been learning so much through it 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing! Lately I’ve been really nervous thinking about my first job. I’m 16 and the only pay I’ve really received working is in odd jobs for family. Haven’t started looking yet, only know that I need work and not sure where I should start. But this really helps me a lot.

  • Hey y’all, I have a question that sort of relates to this topic. I already have a job in lifeguarding and I like it quite a bit except for the one point that’s been poking at my heart for at least half a month by now. In the USA, there’s a federal law against making teens ages fifteen and under work for more than eight hours a day with a combined end total of fourty hours per week. The pool company that I work for has broken this law though since they needed guards to work full shifts last week (which are ten hours in length) and although I like “getting more hours” I also feel that it is wrong to break the law. I talked to my supervisor before I started on my full shifts about whether I should bring it up to the company or not and she asked that I help her out with all the holes in the schedule. This ended in my becoming extremely “burnt out” and tired of working but yet I didn’t want to let my supervisor down by saying I couldn’t help her when she needed my help on an almost desperate level. I have another ten hour shift tomorrow and I’m fifteen until July 19th and I can’t cancel this shift but I just wanted to ask what one should do when faced by such a delima since my younger brother is thinking about going into lifeguarding as well next year. If they ask him to pull illegal shifts like that, what should he say? What should I have said? Thanks and may God bless you all.

    • Hi Faith. This is a difficult situation and I’m sorry that your supervisor has put you in it. I would talk to your parents about this, but I would have a hard time encouraging you (or your younger brother) to pull illegal shifts. Those federal laws are in a place for a reason – to protect you and contribute to your well-being, as you know from feeling burnt out. Your supervisor (and the pool company) is being unfair to ask you to break those laws.

      Sure, it may upset your supervisor, but in the long run, are you really helping the pool company – and the future employees like you – by consenting to this?

      Those are my thoughts. I took a moment now to pray for you and your younger brother and your supervisor in the days ahead. Blessings to you – and a belated happy birthday!

      In Christ,

  • Thanks for the article Jaquelle! I’m just starting to look for a job and this is really good advice. 🙂

  • All of these points are so true! I have now decided to apply as a camp counselor at a Christian camp and if I’m accepted I can’t wait to share the Gospel with children.

  • This seems very similar to “Created for Work” by Bob Schultz. I highly recommend this book to young and old and men and women alike even though it was written for young men.

  • I am lookin’ for a new job right now and it’s very difficult to find one. Maybe it’s by not goin’ ’bout lookin’ for one the right way, just readin’ this has helped me a lot and has opened my eyes to things that the Lord is askin’ of me. I need ta search for a job where God wants me ta be at ta serve him, it’s not about the money because he will provide, search for a job that won’t take me away from God, so many other things I could say ’bout how I’m goin’ ta change my thinkin’ and attitude towards this but I won’t say much more.
    Thank You so much for postin’ this.

rebelling against low expectations

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