Teens at Work: My First Job

Print More

VOX, Atlanta

When I turned 15, it seemed like everyone my age had money – except me. On Mondays at school, I was stuck listening to all my friends’ weekend adventures.

“Amber, why don’t you ever come with us?” they’d ask. “You really missed out, girl. We had so much fun.”

I quickly realized if I wanted to get in on all the fun, I needed to get a job. But, as it turns out, that was easier said than done.

When I started my search, I filled out at least 20 applications a week. My hands hurt from filling out all the forms and my feet hurt from standing in line. And I didn’t get much reward for my pain. Every week I sat by the phone hoping someone would call me back. No one did. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I gave up for a while and went back to my moneyless existence.

Then one fateful day I went to the high school library with my friend Raymond, because he wanted to look on the Internet for a job.

“You’re not going to get hired,” I told him. “Believe me, no one is hiring.”

Another student overheard our conversation and jumped in. “Six Flags Over Georgia is always hiring,” she said. And just like that, I got job crazy all over again.

I jumped online to its website and started filling out the application, which to my dismay was very, very long. It took about an hour to answer a lot of unusual questions such as: Do you think everyone tells lies? Are you a good role model?

Once I finished the online application, the program said I was 95 percent done. The last 5 percent was the interview, which I had to do in person at the park.

The big day came before I knew it. My mom woke me up early so I could iron my clothes and prepare. When I finally arrived at Six Flags, I stood in line for nearly a half an hour before one of the interviewers came forward to deliver some heartbreaking news: They weren’t doing any more interviews that day because so many people had shown up. We were told we could come back to try again.

I was disappointed and a little sad, but I kept my cool and didn’t lose hope. I went back to Six Flags the next week. There wasn’t a soul there. I was early and knew I had a chance.

I was the first person in line, and soon I heard the interviewer call my name. I went into his office, he looked at my application, and then he started asking me some of the same questions I’d already been asked. I think I answered well and it appeared he was going to hire me, until he suddenly stopped.

“Wait, you’re 15,” he said. “All of the 15-year-old spots are taken for now. You’ll have to be put on the waiting list until a spot becomes available or until you turn 16.”

I felt a sharp needle stick in my heart. I had qualified for the job on every count except for age. But then hope sprang back in my heart. My birthday was just one month away. He told me I could come back then and I wouldn’t have to go through the interview again.

The weeks didn’t fly by as fast as I had hoped, but eventually my “Sweet 16” day arrived. I was excited about getting presents and birthday cake, but mostly I was waiting to get my first job.

When I arrived at Six Flags, a woman interviewer congratulated me on my birthday. And then she said the words I had long wanted to hear: “You’re hired!” She went through a schedule to show me the different shifts and pay rates.

When I got home, people thought I was smiling because of my birthday, before I pulled out my job packet.

The following week I started. I was the only one working in this big store all by myself. I froze when I saw the customers start coming in because I didn’t feel ready. A supervisor came in throughout the day to make sure I was all right.

By the time I got my hour-long lunch break, my feet were already killing me. Part of me dreaded going back to work. However, things went easier the second half of the day and time flew by. I counted all the money in my till, signed my time slip and clocked out. I soon became a pro at running the cash register.

Later that month, school let out for the summer and I was able to work five days a week, just like an adult. It felt so good waking up in the morning knowing I was going to work, making my own money.

But I never really liked standing on my feet for such a long time. Whenever I began to get discouraged and didn’t want to get out of bed to go to the park, my mom would remind me about learning the value of work. “Amber, there are people out there who want a job but they can’t get one,” she’d say. “Appreciate what a blessing your job is and just go.”

I have to say, I made pretty good money. My friends were proud of what I had accomplished and happy I could go out on the weekends with them. I even opened up my own bank account.

Though it was difficult to find my first job, I never gave up. I feel proud for setting a goal and achieving it. I’m proof that although some doors may close on you, if you have faith and hope, other doors may open up.

© VOX Teen Communications