how can a teenager get a job when her family travels full-time, new coworker gave herself a better title, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. How can a teenager get a job when our family travels full-time?

I am a teenager (16) and I want to get my first job but I don’t know how. My family lives in a 5th wheel camper and we travel around the country full-time. We don’t own a house. My parents both have work-from-home jobs but both of the companies they work for require employees to be over 18, with a college degree, and must have experience, so trying to get a job with them is out of the question.

We don’t have a permanent address, just a couple of P.O. boxes. My parents use my grandma’s address for really important things like their driver’s licenses, but besides that all mail goes to the P.O. boxes. However I know my grandma’s health is failing and I’m not sure what my parents are going to do after she passes away.

Due to my family traveling around, I can’t go and apply to McDonalds or Walmart. My mom and I have searched and searched the internet for jobs but it’s impossible to find work-from-home jobs. They basically require you to have been working with them before the pandemic started and/or you have to be over 18 with a college degree and experience. There are also many times we don’t have internet/phone service for 2-3 days (sometimes a week if we can stay in one spot and mom and dad don’t have to work). My sister and I are homeschooled so we don’t have to do online classes.

I tried making jewelry and selling it on Etsy but I never made any sales. I can’t go door to door and ask people if they need their lawn mowed or snow shoveled. We don’t even own a lawn mower and since we stay at campgrounds we are always in rural areas, not around houses.

I don’t know how to get a job in my situation. I’m not legally old enough to live on my own yet, and I don’t even have any money to live on my own because I don’t have a job. I really want a job before I go to college because I’ll be living and working on my own. I need some kind of experience. Before anyone asks, my parents aren’t going to sell their camper and buy/rent a house just so I can have a minimum wage job.

I hate to say it, but realistically, I don’t think you can have a job in this situation. I wish you could, but I can’t think of an option that would work. (I’m happy to throw it out to commenters for ideas if anyone has any, though.)

The closest I can get is if you know where you’re going in advance, you might be able to sign up for one- or two-day volunteer opportunities ahead of time. Of course, that wouldn’t give you any money, just some interesting work-like experiences.

However — I wouldn’t worry a lot about this being something you absolutely must do to do before college. It’s a smart thing to do when your life allows for it, but it’s not a disaster if you can’t. A lot of people arrive at college without having had a job before, and you’ll be able to get jobs once you’re there and will quickly rack up that experience. By the time you graduate, you’ll have had four years of being able to work (including full-time in the summers if you want) and at that point prospective employers won’t be asking about what you did in high school anyway.

This must be frustrating though. I hope it helps to know it shouldn’t limit the options you’ll have once you start college (or when you’re otherwise controlling your own living situation).

2. Can I apply to a job when my current job is helping someone else try to get that same job?

I work as a job developer, supporting folks with disabilities in their own job searches. I help with job search, interviewing, reaching out to the employer on the individual’s behalf, onboarding, training, accommodations, etc. While I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed this morning, I saw one of my connections had shared a job posting, and thought it might be a good fit for someone I’m currently supporting, so I sent it to S.

But I kept reading the job posting and thought that, actually, this might also be a really good opportunity for me. It would be a good next step in my career, higher salary, fewer hours, and fully remote.

Now, S applied and wrote a great cover letter. Yay S! Usually, I’ll follow up within a few days with the employer to introduce myself and the work my organization does, and talk up the person I’m supporting.

If I applied, I feel like I could separate myself enough to give everything I normally do for S at the same level, as well as give a good turn out for myself. I could email the employer from my work email saying all the things I normally say about S, and then apply myself from my personal email with a post script of “haha, awkward, you may recognize my name from … here’s the sitch” and be completely transparent. But it could also be too much of a conflict of interest.

Does my duty to the individual I’m supporting preclude me from applying? And if not, how to I handle it?

Yeah, I don’t think you can apply for that job; the conflict of interest is too strong, since your job is to help S get the position you would simultaneously be trying to get for yourself. Even if you know that it won’t affect how well you advocate for S, it would look really bad — and imagine what it would look like to S if you got the job after she believed you were trying to help her get it. It’s also likely to look pretty off to the employer (and could harm both your chances, which wouldn’t be fair to S).

You’ve got to pass this one by, unfortunately.

3. New coworker gave herself a higher title

A new colleague joined our team a few months ago. For anonymity, let’s say her title is the equivalent of project coordinator. In recent weeks, she has started sending emails with her title listed as the equivalent of project manager. Her team already has someone in the formal role of project manager that includes additional duties over and above those of a coordinator, and I confirmed with her supervisor a couple of weeks ago that her title had not changed from project coordinator. It sounded like a few people had asked about this and there was a plan to get this addressed, but the new colleague’s email signature continues to say “manager.” Is this as strange and bold as it seems?

Yes. Even stranger, I’ve gotten probably more than a dozen letters over the years about people just giving themselves their own promotion by using a higher-level title in their email signature without anyone’s permission. It shouldn’t take a whole plan to get it addressed — her manager just needs to tell her to use the correct title, and it’s odd that that hasn’t happened yet, particularly if multiple people have asked about it.

4. Applying directly vs. applying with a recruiter

I recently applied to a job directly because it appeared the organization was hiring for more than one position (a salaried one and also an hourly one) and I was interested in either position. I also applied through a staffing agency — not knowing that both jobs were actually one and the same. I regard that as a mistake on the employer’s part since my submissions were in earnest.

When the recruiter found out about the HR-routed application, I explained that it appeared their client is hiring multiple positions because one position is exempt and the other is not. It was not done to ramp up my odds, per se. He stated he could not represent me to the hiring manager because it’s awkward. I understand that rationale. However, I thought deleting my application at the time of my discussion with the hiring manager would’ve helped.

Now that I know that I lost any possible compensation leverage with the recruiter, I have since re-applied, since the client can land me without worrying about paying the commission. Is this a good idea, or is the overall opportunity one that I should now be worried about, long term?

The issue for the recruiter isn’t that representing you would be awkward; it’s that recruiters don’t get commission for candidates who have also applied with the employer directly. (That’s because there’s no point in an employer paying a recruiter to bring them candidates who they already had contact with on their own, so recruiting contracts generally prohibit it.) Typically when you apply through a recruiter, they “own” your candidacy and the employer can’t deal with you directly … and vice versa. So when you apply both ways, it creates a mess for both the recruiter and the company, and it can be tricky to sort out; some employers will prefer not to deal with you at all at that point rather than risk a contract squabble with the recruiter.

It’s hard to say how it will play out in this particular situation, but it won’t be the end of the world if you just reapply and see what happens.

{ 415 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’ve removed some comments opining on various aspects of LW#1’s life that she didn’t ask for, including home-schooling, and which (in my opinion) were overstepping and off-topic.

  2. Dhaskoi*

    For LW1, the only thing that comes to mind is Mechanical Turk on Amazon. I’m not sure it would work for you (it’s not for everyone and it can be hard to make much money) but it could at least be worth checking out.

    1. Artemesia*

      Another option is to develop handyman skills. Hang out your shingle at each campground. Maybe someone needs their camper cleaned, or a mother’s helper with kids while setting up camp, or to run errands like laundry. A mother might be happy to have someone stay at the laundromat with the laundry while she is with the kids back at camp. This won’t give you a ‘job’ on the resume, but in high school that isn’t really important. It will give you money and a job history you can talk about when applying for the next thing.

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        Going along with your suggestions if they are a generally handy person they might be able to find work with the different campgrounds directly they stay at.

        Cleaning bathrooms, chopping woods, linen laundry, chopping firewood, fixing fences. *Not a camping person so not sure if these are real things at a campground. if OP is willing to do all the tasks other people don’t want to do they might be willing to pay them for a few hours of work.

        It would probably be easier if they are campgrounds that the family visits regularly. But if OP1 reaches out via email/call a head of time the campground might be glad to have an extra hand for 2/3/7 days.

        Especially if OP1 can give the name of a few references right away, it might make it easier more willing to hire them.

        1. anoncamper*

          As someone who works at a campground, there are indeed jobs that need to be done. Some tasks (splitting firewood, for example) would not be a good match due to OHS issues, need for skills with dangerous equipment, etc, but there could be some tasks that untrained OP could do on a casual basis.
          If OP’s jewelry is appealing, perhaps selling directly is an option. You might need to get permission from the campground. Or maybe selling kits to fellow campers? Teaching beadwork? People like souvenirs of their holiday, so something that reminds them of the trees or mountains or beach. Perhaps rock painting? Google it if you aren’t familiar. Also, hiding painted rocks is fun (again, google it!)

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Please just don’t paint/hide the rocks in forests & other natural environments. Great fun in the planter outside your neighbor’s coffee shop. Sad when peeling beach rocks show up in melting snow by a shale cliff in a state park.

          2. keiteag*

            Ok, that’s pretty funny! I was just shoveling snow outside my store’s front door and , tucked into a niche in the brick, was a painted rock. Finding painted rocks is fun, too!

        2. Nonprofit Lifer*

          I have never lived in a campground, but I imagine that the people who live there might also need services done (babysitting, tutoring younger kids, pet-walking, transporting things, picking up orders in town, washing vehicles, etc.) and usually don’t have the connections to have a regular person do those jobs for them.

          Once you identify which services people need and are willing to pay for, you could write up a flyer with what services you offer and your contact info and distribute that around the campsite when you arrive (with the site owner’s permission, as appropriate).

          You might not get any long-term clients, but you could pick up some money here and there, and you have the experience of essentially running your own business. You could even create a cheap website to supplement the flyer (maybe including quotes from former clients). I would think that essentially running your own small business would look pretty good on college applications or on a resume for an in-person job, even compared to a traditional teenage retail or food services job.

          1. Lizzo*

            Related: LW, is there any chance your parents would be willing to adjust the travel schedule a bit to accommodate you doing these kinds of jobs? This might include staying a couple of weeks in one location, or visiting the same campsite regularly, or even just planning in advance to go somewhere and then connecting with the campsite owners ahead of time about babysitting services you could offer, or whatever you decide to pursue.
            You sound very mature, and definitely old enough to start contributing to the conversation around your family’s plans, especially because the next few years are important if you’re planning to go off to college or go out on your own once you finish school.

            1. Dr Sarah*

              This was my thought as well; now LW1 has reached the age when it’s an issue, can the family stay for at least a few months at a time in one place to allow for job applications? There might well be some obvious reason why not, so apologies if I’m making a suggestion that the LW has already considered.

      2. JSPA*

        Useful for a few bucks, but these days, a lot of people who are camping in winter and early spring are unhoused, not by choice, and don’t have the money to pay.

        You could gather testimonials, if you’re more worried about those… but honestly, in this situation, it’s not something a future employer would expect.

        Honestly, the best answer for the moment is read more, learn more practical skills, practice following repair directions in the manual (if you have basic recipe-following skills). Those are the basis for an absolutely huge range of future jobs. Compared to, “I made change at the ticket booth,” you’re ahead of the game.

        1. Molly*

          Or even if you’re not great at following recipes. I have trouble with recipies because (1) I don’t know what all the verbs mean and (2) I don’t enjoy cooking. But I do enjoy fixing things, and I can follow the instructions for that sort of thing just fine.

        2. Really?*

          Where I live, this is prime tourist season, and many of the rigs in the campgrounds cost as much as, if not more than, a median priced home. The potential really depends on where OP is…

      3. infopubs*

        Having lived in an RV for a decade and a boat for another decade, I second this idea. We are always looking for someone to do basic chores like cleaning, and it’s often hard to find someone. I would be thrilled to give a teen in the campground or marina a job washing/waxing/etc! Have simple business cards printed up and hand them out.

      4. great idea*

        THIS is a REALLY good idea! And run it like a business; keep track of jobs and earnings, and if anyone were to ask for further information, that sort of documentation will demonstrate that it wasn’t “picking up random tasks” — that you treated this seriously and you were truly self-employed.

        My best wishes to you, LW1!! You sound like you are very thoughtful, resourceful and creative. The idea of trying to sell jewelry on etsy was a good one (market considerations aside) and I am certain that — job or not in your current situation — you will go far.

      5. Lucy P*

        This isn’t a bad idea. Years ago after a hurricane, my husband and I were displaced from home and lived at an RV park for a month. When the park managers found out that my husband did tech support for a living, they decided to pay us to setup their wifi router. We were happy to get the extra money.

      6. Ontariariario*

        Facebook might be an option for a situation where someone is moving around frequently and is looking for odd jobs. If the parents know where they are headed then OP could look for a local facebook group and post their availability there or message the park directly. Not every location will have an active group, but hopefully at least some of them will. I’m surprised by how much of an online community there is around me.

      7. Speaking as a mom...*

        If you’re interested in doing childcare in places that you won’t be around for very long (and thus won’t have relationships/personal recommendations), it might be worth it to get something like a Red Cross babysitting certification along with infant/child CPR. (Which will also be useful if you want to sit/nanny when you get to college.)

        1. greenland*

          Co-sign this! Helpful for work experience and just generally a useful thing to do. If you’re looking for basic resume boosting experiences, this is a good one.

      8. Lime green Pacer*

        As a frequent camper, I think laundry services (if there is an on-site laundromat) are a great idea. I would hire OP for that, as I often use wash & fold services when camping near towns and cities. Or see if campground management would let OP sell their crafts to fellow campers; since OP is a minor, that may give them a bit of an advantage, it could be seen as more of a “lemonade stand” than a serious business.

      9. Traveler*

        I am the OP. So I do some of this already. Most people don’t trust/need babysitters or their camper cleaned. However we do pet watch for people because a lot of campgrounds say you can bring a dog but it can’t be left alone. Most campgrounds don’t even allow you to leave your dog in your camper while you run to bathrooms but yet they also don’t allow dogs/pets in the buildings and you can’t tie them up outside either. My family never asks for money when pet watching because we have a dog of our own and it’s nice to trade services for free. As for handyman skills my dad did teach me how to weld and I learned sandblasting but I don’t get much of a chance to use those skills.

        1. singularity*

          There’s an app called User Testing, where you get paid to test out websites and apps, usually for things like navigation and ease of use, etc. As long as you have a PayPal account (that’s where they’ll send the money) and a phone with a microphone, it’ll work for you. I know it sounds fake, but I do it. I don’t make a lot of money, but it’s usually about $10 per test. It’s up to you how often you do it, and they’ll send you emails when an opportunity comes up that might fit with you. (Like if they want you to test an app that would fit with your demographic.)

        2. Donna Roberts*

          Do online tutoring. There are a million different sites and jobs. You can also post on FB what subjects and ages your can tutor and maybe find several regular gigs.

        3. Nina*

          If you can weld you’re already winning. See if you can get a certification for it, because in some industries ‘I am coming on as an apprentice and already have a welder’s certificate’ is worth big money.

    2. Lulu*

      The Youth Conservation Corps! High school age students work 6-8 weeks in National Parks in a structured format with room and board and educational components, too. Hiring is often on a lottery basis, so some luck is involved, but it’s an incredible program and experience. Applications open now! I’ll post link separately for review.

        1. Ask An Event Manager*

          Dang, they get room and board now?! When I was in the YCC at 15 we just helped with various maintenance projects in the wooded areas of the park. Got to drive a golf cart, but definitely no educational components (unless you meant learning the history of the park).

        1. nerak*

          I was also going to suggest camp counselor–it would mean being away from the family for the bulk of the summer and being younger it might mean something more like “junior counselor”, but the place where I went to summer camp (and my kids go now) has TONS of jobs from counselor, to working in the kitchen, to doing other “housekeeping” type-jobs.

          1. Katy*

            This would also be my suggestion – find a summer job that houses you. Camp counselor is probably the most easily available and fun one, but there are also lodges that will hire live-in staff just for the summer months.

            1. MKL*

              Outstanding idea… summer camp counselors often get great training in amazing skills- facilitation, teaching, conflict resolution, etc… Here’s a link to the American Camp Association job site. You can also google summer camps in the states you’ll be near this summer. If travel expenses are prohibitive, approach your parents with a proposal- they front the travel money in exchange for you paying them back out of your end of summer wages. You’ll come out ahead and have a nest egg for next summer.


        2. Office Sweater Lady*

          I was looking to see if anyone else made this suggestion, so just want to second being a junior counselor at a sleepaway summer camp. I did this as a teenager, and the JCs are usually able to stay onsite for multiple weeks. This can be a great developmental experience for any teenager!

        3. ferrina*

          I was going to suggest this too. My sister did this in high school- overnight camps will provide board. Some will hire counselors for multi-week stints or the full summer.

        4. Temperance*

          That’s such an awesome idea! It would get LW#1 some work experience and would help college not be such a shock after living in a camper.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            It would also get them some work experience that was supervised, so they could have a reference later if they need it. One of the drawbacks of doing odd jobs is you don’t have a manager to vouch for you when you apply for a steadier job–a summer camp job could help fill that gap.

        5. Michelle Smith*

          I did this for a job the summer between high school and college, despite not being outdoorsy and never camping another day in my life after it was over. It was generally a rewarding experience, so I’d give it some thought even if you aren’t really into that kind of stuff normally.

        6. Owl*

          This was going to be my suggestion too! I worked at an overnight camp as a teenager and honestly of all the jobs I had before grad school, including fancy office jobs, it prob taught me the most. You build a lot of confidence, learn to think on your feet, are forced to manage conflict, learn very important life skills like archery and tie dye… the list goes on.

          1. Anonymity*

            I was a camp counselor 3 years in a row during high school and I loved it, and learned so much. I am now in my 30s but still think it might be my favourite job I’ve had so far. I always say that if I could be a full time summer camp counselor, I would be. (I’m an elementary school teacher, so I got pretty close.)

            I think this could be a great idea for the OP. A lot of people I know only worked summers in high school, no matter where they worked, and a camp has the added benefit of being able to stay there on your own.

        7. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          Yes, adding my voice to this idea! It’s the perfect time to be looking, too. Some camps can be hard to get hired at, so it would be a good idea to try to find some time to get first aid and CPR certified, if LW can work with their fam to colocate by some courses for a weekend or two. Based on LW’s mobility, it would make sense to find camps that are longer or allow staff to stay on site during the weekends – my camps were Mon-Sat, so most staff headed home on the weekend on the same bus as the kids, and this could make it hard for them.

          As a former camp and pool lifeguard I’m obliged to point out that it’s an excellent summer and college gig, if LW has good skills in the water – it also makes you very hireable at camps! Or, finding a camp that specializes in an interest the LW has like art/crafting, or paddling, or a sport – so many great options!

          1. Ophelia*

            Seconding this. If LW is a strong swimmer, and her parents are willing to front the cost/stick around someplace with a Y for a few weeks, a lifeguard certification will also give you options for well-paid work-study while in college.

          2. Tupac Coachella*

            The American Red Cross offers online CPR courses at a reasonable price, OP would just need to find someone to administer the skills portion. Firehouses and hospitals usually have someone on staff certified to do checkoffs, and some of them will do it on the spot or by appointment if you have your documentation of the online portion with you.

        8. MKL*

          A summer camp job is a fantastic idea. If travel funds are tight present your parents with a proposal- if they’ll fund your travel there, you can repay them with your end of summer earnings. You should come away with great experience and a nest egg for next summer. The American Camp Association job site is below. You might also google summer camps in the states you’ll be near in the spring.

        9. Traveler*

          I am OP. A ton of people are saying become a camp counselor. I’ve never attended a summer camp so I don’t know how it works. However I have talked to other kids who have gone to summer camp and they say you have to have been going to the camp for a few years before you can become a camp counselor.

          1. fish*

            Hi OP! I’d say that many counselors *do* go to camps as campers, before coming counselors. And maybe there are some where that’s a strict requirement. As for not knowing – maybe you can watch some videos to understand camp culture beforehand, but you’ll also pick it up quickly.

            But it will not be a strict requirement for all of them, by any means. If interested, apply to a bunch, and be honest that you haven’t been a camper before, and I’m sure you’ll get some callbacks.

          2. fish*

            Or something like the Student Conservation Association, which takes under-18’s, where you’re not responsible for other people, and where your camping experience will be an asset.

          3. Bear in the Sky*

            Actually, the requirement is that you be old enough to be a counselor. Usually, that’s 16 for a junior counselor, often called CIT (counselor in training); 18 for a full counselor.

            Most kids who go to camp start going sometime between age 9 and age 12. That means they have been going to camp for several years by the time they qualify to be a counselor.

            If you’ve done any babysitting, that’s usually job experience enough, especially if you’re CIT age.

          4. Anonymity*

            Not necessarily! I think it’s true that many people do, but I don’t think you have to. I was a camp counselor for a place I had never been, and it was great! Some camps do have set ups where like you kind of get promoted from camper to CIT, to counselor, but that’s definitely not true of everywhere.

          5. higheredadmin*

            OP, there is a HUGE shortage of young people for what would historically be a young person’s job. (Just google pool lifegaurds for tales of pools not being able to run on full schedules because there are not enough trained lifeguards.) So I wouldn’t rule out camp counselor or any other summer programs. As noted below, you can work on certifications that will help with this.

          6. Kara*

            Not necessarily! I never attended summer camp as a child, but a Girl Scouts camp was more than happy to hire me on as one of my first jobs. I’d always been curious what camp was like, so it was a really cool experience!

          7. Camp Director*

            Camp director here – the biggest challenge facing our industry in the last 10 years (not including COVID) is a shortage of young people willing to be counselors & staff. If you enjoy working with kids and are responsible, many, many camps would be thrilled to have you.

            (Readers, please pass the message along to young people in your life – working at camp is an OUTSTANDING experience that prepares you for any job and for life.)

          8. Lozi*

            OP, something else to consider about summer camp jobs is they need not only camp counselors, but also dishwashers, housekeeping, etc. depending on the camp those may or may not come with housing, but it’s worth looking, and you definitely don’t need camp experience!

          9. Caffeinated Consultant*

            1. You’re gonna figure this out!

            2. In addition to camps, look at other seasonal places that offer housing. I know that at least a few years ago, Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio housed all their out-of-town workers. I’m pretty sure the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, does the same. From this limited data I assume that lots of seasonal tourist destinations offer room and board. The pay is likely *really* low beyond the lodging, but it’s definitely something you could put on a resume!

            3. You’re gonna figure this out! :)

          10. Jonquil*

            I don’t think that’s right. The summer camps recruit a lot of foreign students to come to the US for camp counsellors and we don’t have summer camps here. It used to be a moderately popular option for Australian school leavers pre-covid (I’m not sure if people still do gap years now).

      1. amoeba*

        Oh yeah, true – I’m not US-based but would in general look for opportunities that are with room and board (camps, maybe holiday parks, etc.?)? I think there must be some during the school holidays where you could go and stay and work for a few weeks?

        Not for money, unfortunately, but maybe for work experience/”working holiday”, WWOOFing could be an option? (Working on organic farms in exchange for room and board – their website states that although generally you need to be 18, some farms allow younger volunteers if a guardian agrees)

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          There are all sorts of websites like that, ex-help is good too. Basically you are fed and housed in return for 4 hours’ work a day. A friend built his own house with the help of students looking for a bit of work experience and an opportunity to travel on the cheap.

      2. Ontariariario*

        I was an Ontario Junior Ranger (apparently the term is now a Stewardship Youth Ranger) and it was great. The government paid for my travel to the camp and I got 8 weeks of paid employment, a lot of physical activity, and I met some really nice people. It is open to 16 and 17 year olds and participants are chosen randomly from the group of applicants.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Yellowstone is the only residential program. All the other parks do not have housing available. But Yellowstone would be incredible!

    3. PickleJuice*

      With all of the travel experience you’re getting I’d think freelance writing would be a great way to get some experience. You can write any time you like and upload when you’re someplace with wifi.
      I know it feels frustrating, but it sounds like you’re getting a lot more than a part time job, your life sounds very interesting!

      1. pretty purple platypus*

        Seconding freelance! Short-term data entry gigs often do not require experience or a degree other than a typing test, I believe. There are also other freelance jobs that you can do to be a part-time personal assistant, etc., and they are all remote. They don’t make a ton of money, but for something to do it’s not a bad way to get a bit of experience and earn a few extra bucks!

        1. Waiting on the bus*

          Data entry and transcribing work is what came to my mind as well. My company used to offer data entry positions remote only and allowed for a lot of flexibility on when you worked your hours.

          Not having any internet connection for up to a week at a time makes it more difficult though. That wouldn’t have worked at my company. But maybe the parents would be willing to avoid places like that if their kid needs internet access for work.

          1. Hi, I'm Troy McClure*

            LW1, I’m currently doing transcription between more permanent jobs (I’m in my early 30s) and it’s a lot of fun, especially if you can get on with a company that does actual TV and movies. The pay can be low (though this is mitigated somewhat because you are presumably being supported by your parents right now), but in many cases you can pick your hours, and it’s good experience. If you enjoy it enough, the flexible nature means you could keep it up in college if you want. The only thing is many companies will hire you as an independent contractor – it’s not super hard to figure out, but it does have some specific tax issues you’ll want to be aware of. But for your situation, it may be just the ticket!

        2. Bear in the Sky*

          But you have to have reliable internet to do that kind of job. If you lose your internet connection right when you’ve taken an assignment, you miss the deadline.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I wish people on this site stopped suggesting writing as an easy accessible career or even income.
        Most people cannot write well enough to make money on it. I, for example, after working for 20+ years in various jobs, wouldn’t even know who I would write for, or what about. Or string more than 2 paragraphs in a work e-mail.

      3. Temperance*

        OP is a teenager. Freelance writing is hard to break into for someone with a college degree and actual demonstrated experience in writing. This is not a great suggestion.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        Except the LW is 16. I’m not saying no 16-year-old can do this, but it’s a tall order for someone who hasn’t completed high school yet and doesn’t have any experience in self-promoting.

      5. Traveler*

        I am OP. I would love to get into freelance writing but I have no idea how to get into that. I’ve only wrote stories for myself or assignments. I don’t see myself being the kind of person to write and publish a book. I am taking writing courses. Someone said I should start writing a blog about my travels and I really like that idea so that might give me something.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          That’s great if you do! Share the update and link with Alison and you will get a lot of followers here!

        2. Dr Sarah*

          Very much second what Daisy-dog has said; I would love to read that blog, and I really hope you start it and that Alison posts the link!

    4. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      Freelance work (copywriting, building simple websites, graphics editing, designing logos, etc) are also options. Many of them will be internet-dependent for the days you’re communicating with clients and turning things in, but for the days you’re just working on the projects, it might be okay to be unplugged.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I don’t know how to FIND it, but when I was a teen, I did freelance transcribing for a professor friend of my mom’s (anthropology? sociology? I don’t remember exactly). If OP could get a gig like that, I think it would work really well — I got audio files from the prof every few weeks and then transcribed them on my own time. I got paid per minute of audio, and I type quickly enough that it was a pretty good hourly rate, especially if the interviewees talked slowly and used a lot of filler words.

        Nowadays more of that work is probably done (badly) by computers, but the interviewees I was transcribing spoke AAVE, which may still need to be transcribed by humans, especially if there’s a lot of local slang.

        Also it was FASCINATING. I’m still impressed by the 17-year-old teen mom who gave birth and was back at school the next day.

        1. rayray*

          I think there is a way to make money doing transcribing for youtube videos. I don’t know too much about it, but I’m sure some googling and digging could pull up some information.

          1. NaoNao*

            yes, it’s called “Rev” closed captioning (not transcribing but close!). The company will give you very basic training, and then you do a few test runs. You will then get assigned easier stuff, until you’re ready to tackle longer videos. But it’s genuinely challenging—I picked it up to learn a new skill after a sudden job loss and I didn’t continue with it as it was $1 per minute of video at most.

            1. Bread Crimes*

              A friend of mine who can’t do other work for various reasons does a lot of work for “Rev”, and I want to echo these caveats. It comes out to minimum wage most of the time, requires camping the site to try to get the “good” jobs, did in their wrists with RSI after several months of trying to make decent money thereby, and ended up requiring some extra software and equipment to be able to handle the trickier jobs in any sort of cost-effective manner.

              Which is not to say “definitely don’t do that!”, but it’s not particularly lucrative, and it’s not as easy as it might seem from the outside.

        2. wordswords*

          Oh yes, good call! I did some freelance transcription a few years back when I was in between jobs, and it was very useful for flexibility. Didn’t pay a ton, but for high school job standards it might be very useful. Now, AI and such have kicked up several notches in the last few years, so it might be more done by computers, but I’m guessing there’s still a market for some combo of a) doing a human check over a computer transcription and correcting the inevitable mistakes, b) transcription of speakers with strong accents, and possibly c) transcription for companies that pride themselves on precision or have a legal need to keep AI etc out of it.

          There are (or at least were) a lot of agencies — google “freelance transcription agency [area]” or something. You might have to do some looking to find one where it’s okay to be out of contact on and off (the transcription work is easy to do offline, but they might want you to be able to respond quickly to “can you take this job y/n” messages, or you might have to get in their system as never available for urgent work, or something) but it still might be worth checking out.

          In my experience, you’ll need a word processing program (preferably Word, but see what a given company wants) and a transcription program (I used Express Scribe, others use others; see what works for your set-up and/or what an agency wants you to have, though it’ll probably just be “something that works”) and headphones. That’s fundamentally it! There’s some other equipment it can be helpful to have — a transcription pedal can be used to play/pause/rewind without lifting your hands from the keyboard and will likely be useful if you end up doing a bunch, and nicer over-the-ear headphones make life easier — but it’s not strictly needed.

          Everyone I worked for paid by the minute or hour of audio time, so how much money it ended up being per hour depends on how fast you type. It also depends on how much of a pain a given file is — if it’s full of mumbling and poeple talking over each other and you have to play it way slowed down or relisten a lot, or look up proper names and technical terminology constantly, it’ll go a lot slower. I found that it took me 3-5 minutes for every minute of audio, but your mileage may vary.

          All of that said, I agree with Alison and other commenters that if you want a job primarily because you feel you need to have had one before college, you don’t necessarily actually need one! But if you could really use the money or you really want the experience to point to, if you’re a fairly fast typist (or if you’re not all that fast but not particularly fussed about having it work out to lower hourly pay) this could be something to look into.

      2. irritable vowel*

        Sorry, but no one is going to hire a teenager with no work experience or design portfolio to do this work. These are professional fields that people with years of experience get hired for, mostly through networking and word of mouth.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I think number 1 should focus on a job-adjacent side hustle in the vein of the jewelry project, but just keep at it or do more with advertising etc. Maybe it’s a hobby, maybe it’s some form of income, but you’ll still learn some business skills. Perhaps self publishing, having a blog you monetize about your life on the road, social media influencing, etc? Ideally something without the overhead costs of shipping a product like an etsy store would have – the product is something digital, and your budget starts at mostly free and increases only to whatever income you’re generating. Note this is an unlikely path to riches but so is mowing lawns or McDonalds.

      1. English Rose*

        A blog about life on the road is what occurred to me. Even if not monetized, being a teenager “along for the ride” so to speak is an unusual take on road blogs. It would help OP improve their writing skills and visibility.
        OP already has a good writing style based on the clarity with which they phrased their question, and developing this skill further would also be helpful with college work.

      2. TeaCoziesRUs*

        You bring up a good point about shipping I hadn’t thought of. If you tend to calculate shipping pretty tightly it charge a customer exact shipping, then you’ll lose money some of the time because you’re in a different zone than you are when you made the listing. I sell a lot of stuff on ebay that weighs less than 4oz (and assume jewelry would be under that threshold, too), so charging $5 for a USPS First Class Package would cover all the different zones. It’s something worth considering as you build listings to sell physical products, though.

    6. Student*

      OP1: If it overlaps with any career fields you are interested in, teach yourself coding. Consider contributing to any open-source projects you are interested in, or perhaps writing a mod for a computer game you like (start with a small idea, then try bigger things as your skills improve).

      There are lots of resources online, and all you need is a computer. You can work on such projects when you’re offline, if you pick up a decent book on the relevant programming language. Your coding projects can become an effective portfolio and experience when applying for jobs. Lots of jobs benefit from coding experience, even if your day-to-day work isn’t coding.

      If that’s not your thing, then… how about teaching yourself a foreign language? Lots of jobs have a multinational component now. Maybe there’s a country you’d be interested in visiting, or a culture you’re interested in. In the US, Spanish is useful in pretty much all public-facing jobs, and several other languages are regionally very useful. There are lots of online resources for this, and workbooks for when you’re offline, too.

    7. T.N.H.*

      I thought of that too but you have to be 18 to do any of these sites (just checked all the ones I know).

    8. MapleHill*

      #1 I think Alison’s volunteer idea is great. It will give you something at least to put on your resume.

      When you travel do u stay at state or national parks? My dad lives in an RV and said you can work at the park (like cashier at the entry, etc) in exchange for a lot (or whatever it’s called). Not sure what the parameters are on that like if there’s a min age or length of time. But if yall do go to these, might be worth reaching out ahead of time to see if they have work or even volunteer opportunities for you.

      Aside from that, look up side hustles & passive income online & podcasts. Some of these might work for your moving lifestyle & sounds like you’re open to trying out entrepreneurial things.

      Final idea, if u can’t work, try to acquire some unique skills. Languages, software programs, music?…or find something related to your interests. I know u don’t always have internet but there are lots of apps & videos that can help & I know at least at my library we can check out ebooks, audiobooks etc digitally. U can download it so u can still use it offline. They auto return so no late fees. Do u have any relatives who can check if their library does this & give u their library card # since u don’t have an address?

      Also start thinking about how you can frame your unique experiences from your travels & what you’ve gotten out of them. You have a different life experience from most American teens & that’s not a bad thing.

    9. Owl*

      Another option: signing up for an app like rover where you can walk dogs that allows for one off gigs.

      1. Bear in the Sky*

        Those apps serve people in specific towns and cities. If LW is staying at rural campgrounds, that’s not where the business is. They nearly always, maybe always, are limited to 18 and older, too.

      2. Traveler*

        I am OP. Bear in the Sky is right. I tried signing up for a dog walking app, it was like Uber but for dog walking. First off the app required you to be 18 or older. Not having a permanent address is a big problem. On top of that the app was only in major cities, it wasn’t available in small towns or out in the woods/country. Also the app required phone service and there isn’t always phone service in those areas.

    10. WillowSunstar*

      Maybe creating web sites? If you learn to code, that’s a major life skill that would lead to a career, and people would pay you for the web sites you create. Or learn how to create apps and sell them online, maybe that also would work?

      1. WillowSunstar*

        Also learn to do everything with ChatGPT — that is going to be a major skill moving forward and can be done online.

      2. Bear in the Sky*

        That’s a long term plan, not a right now plan. To design websites, you have to have reliable internet access. To learn to code in the first place, you have to have reliable internet access and/or be where you can take an in person class. LW doesn’t have those options.

    11. Dys*

      Digital transcription came to mind for me. It can fit around other commitments, be done in any location with decent internet, and you get very quick with time and practice. The money isn’t amaaaazing but it’s not terrible, and it’ll demonstrate the ability to stick to deadlines etc

    12. Irene Cassini*

      If you do well on the SAT or ACT (I believe that Kaplan only requires 90th percentile), you could be a tutor. Most prep classes are taught remotely now.

    13. Van Wilder*

      A lot of good suggestions here. Just to add one: I would try putting the words out to family and friends of the family if they have any computer work that you can do remotely.

      For example, when I was a teenager, I had a job working for a local children’s performer who needed help with her mailing list. Most of that work could be done remotely now.

      Or maybe people just need help organizing their personal files or even photos.

      Best of luck! But I agree with Alison that if you can’t get a job before college, you will still be fine.

  3. Jessica*

    LW1, you’re going to be fine! Lots of people don’t work before college. I didn’t; my parents were the “school is your job” type. I work at a university now and hire student workers, and I’d give you a chance. Do tell prospective employers why you have no work experience, because it not only is a totally reasonable explanation, but also you have an interesting backstory that will make you stand out. Especially if you’re personable and articulate, and seem serious and willing, you’ll be able to get a job. And then you’ll have work experience, one thing will lead to another, and by the time you’re out of college nobody will be thinking about your teenage jobs or lack thereof.

    1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      This is assuming that her parents have the ability or inclination to pay for college, or that the LW wants to take on the massive debt of student loans. And she’d still need sufficient money for anything not covered by either of those options.

        1. Well...*

          OP could be planning to go to college but not sure their parents will pay for all of it. Their parents might be willing to cover the first year, only tuition but no living expenses, etc. It’s not clear that OP doesn’t need to save money in advance in order to go to college from the info in the letter.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        As it wasn’t part of the question, I think we can assume that the LW has a plan for college.

        1. Tape dispenser*

          Agreed. She specifically said she’s looking for a job for the experience. There’s no mention of needing the money in order to go to college, and she seems to view college as something that will happen for her.

          Jessica’s helpful comment directly related to the specific question the LW was asking, about lacking experience. We don’t need to spin out making up other problems.

          1. Well...*

            She said: “I really want a job before I go to college because I’ll be living and working on my own. I need some kind of experience.”

            It sounds to me like it’s not just experience, but that there could be a factor at play where she will need money immediately, and some savings would help, but in the absence of that it’s pretty critical she gets a paid job right away, so now is the time for volunteer/spotty/less dependable employment so she can reliably pay bills in college.

            1. londonedit*

              I just read it as meaning that the LW realises they don’t have much experience standing on their own two feet, and as they’re going to have to do that when they go to college (which will undoubtedly be a very different experience from travelling around the country with their family) they want to get a job so they can gain experience in being independent.

              1. Well...*

                yea, it could be that. I also stand by the fact that it isn’t much of a leap to assume people want a job for money, even if they don’t say it explicitly. The default that money isn’t an issue for a teenager seems like a very particular perspective

      2. Totally Minnie*

        Why are you even brining this up? LW plans to go to college. Their parents have been active in helping them job search, so I assume as a family, they have a plan for this. I know the state of higher education in the IS isn’t great, but this isn’t what the LW asked about and we don’t need to pour doom and gloom on them when they’re already feeling bad about not being able to get a job.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      I sit on several college scholarship committees, and I notice whether an applicant has worked or interned. Yes, working and interning is a plus. However, it’s not that it’s a problem if they’ve never worked; it’s that I want to know what they have been doing with their time, and what they have learned from it and how it has influenced and shaped them.

      If there is a very good reason why they’ve never held a job, that’s fine. I see applications from athletes and entertainers and musicians, as well as students where their parents were in the military or the foreign service. I also see applicants where they had to take care of an ill family member or similar. Lots of applicants had parents who were business owners, and so they have spent the last five years working at their family’s restaurant and not getting paid, and I understand that too. LW’s traveling lifestyle absolutely falls under that umbrella. I would 100% understand why LW hasn’t had a job, and I would look forward to hearing stories about how her traveling lifestyle has influenced her and what she has learned. The question isn’t “have you worked?” The question is “what have been your most influential experiences, and what have they taught you?” If it’s that you worked at Pizza Hut, that’s very valid. If it’s that you traveled the country and saw this great land and its people — warts and all — that is very valid, too.

      Also note that it’s not that I assume everyone needs to have held a job by the time they are 18. I just want to know what you have been doing beyond your schoolwork. There are plenty of students who haven’t held jobs for perfectly excellent reasons (or didn’t need to endorse I’ve been doing other things with their time), but there also are plenty of students who mostly have been sitting in their basements watching TV and have nothing else to discuss, and that is not a plus.

      1. Scholarships*

        I work administrating a college scholarship program. I never downgrade an applicant if they don’t have work experience in high school.

        I would suggest using your free time senior year to apply for tons and tons of scholarships. Applying for scholarships could be your part-time job of sorts. I’ve seen students get hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships by applying to all of the opportunities they can find. Check out the book Confessions of a Scholarship Winner to get ideas how to do that.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d imagine an applicant who has learned to do maintenance on the family van/home also has something interesting to discuss!

      3. Flowers*

        I guess I’m incredibly lucky I was able to get admission into public college. I really wanted to work and have a job and be independent but my parents were extremely overbearing and well I just had a lot of emotional issues/lack of focus. I can only hope to do things differently for baby bud.

    3. Well...*

      Also,if LW1 wants to make sure they have income immediately in college, they can start applying for on-campus jobs before they actually arrive. Work study programs if financial aid is needed usually get things set up ahead of time, so as soon as you’re there you have a job.

      These types of jobs are meant for college students, many of whom never worked before. My husband worked in the cafeteria at his undergrad to help pay tuition and it was all set up before he transferred there. He had never had formal employment before that.

      1. Jack of all trades, master of French*

        Work study was also my recommendation. If you qualify for financial aid, you’ll likely qualify for work study, and depending on the school (larger schools have larger programs), there’s a pretty wide variety of jobs—everything from food service to working in the library to office work, and some things I have no idea about. I worked in tutoring programs and writing centers for years, and most of our student workers were work study.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          “If you qualify for financial aid, you’ll likely qualify for work study”

          This is not true, in my experience. I qualified for financial aid (state grants) but never for work study. And many of my peers who did qualify still were not actually awarded work-study, because there’s a limited pool of money that often doesn’t cover every qualified applicant. If you do get an award, it’s for a limited amount of hours… not usually enough to support yourself on. I believe the average work-study recipient last year got about $1500. Many (most?) work-study jobs will not allow you to work beyond your allotted hours since they won’t be getting reimbursed more than the award amount.

          Work study is great for helping people get their foot in the door with some paid work experience. It’s great for students on full financial aid (tuition and housing) so they can get money for incidental spending or to fill in small but necessary financial gaps. It’s not very helpful for students who get some financial aid but still have to be mostly self-supported – the awards are nowhere near enough to live on and the jobs can actually interfere with taking standard jobs that offer more hours.

        2. Majnoona*

          My son, a computer science major, helped redesign the library website and then worked as a TA, so sometimes you can get jobs beyond food services

          1. Well...*

            The food services jobs aren’t glamorous but if you need money right away, it may be the best option. My husband is now a physicist, he’s going to be a professor at an R1 next year, he’s published in some of the best journals that exist, and he was the first person in his family to go to college. There is no shame in working in food services to help pay for college.

            1. BethDH*

              I worked in food services as work study too and it was actually a nice outlet from school work, especially as work-study shifts are a lot shorter than regular food service.
              It became important to my mental health because it was two hours at a time that I couldn’t study, and working with people whose whole life wasn’t college was good for my perspective. I got placed in that role my first year but opted to stay in it later even when I could have had something more prestigious.

      2. Leia Oregano*

        If LW doesn’t qualify for federal work study, most institutions also have Institutional Employment, where you can just apply for student-designated jobs, and you don’t need to qualify for aid! Many positions, of both types, require no previous experience, or really generic experience. They’re specifically looking for students, and know students come from all backgrounds. Both FWS and IE have hour per week limits and other protections to ensure school is your priority, and imo they often pay above minimum wage because universities need to be competitive with all the off-campus employment opportunities, like waiting tables or working retail.

        IE is how I got my first job ever, which was a seasonal summer job on my university campus after my first year there. I stayed, and am still employed there now as professional faculty, so FWS and IE are both fabulous ways of making money and connections. At least at my institution, incoming freshmen can apply for many of the jobs, though I will caution that a lot of departments do their fall hiring at the end of the spring semester, so that they start the school year fully staffed. So options may be limited that first semester, but they’ll almost definitely be there. LW, I’d encourage you to look at the student employment websites of the colleges you’re interested in as you start the college search process. That will give you an idea of the variety and number of student positions available, and you could dig for some contact info to ask whatever office runs on-campus student employment at that school what applying and hiring for incoming freshmen is like, if you wanted to hit the ground running and already have a job or be interviewing when your freshman year starts.

      3. theletter*

        + for work-study, the jobs are designed around student life and have a better chance of being related to the student’s field of study.

    4. LCH*

      If the reason you want to get a job is to have experience for later, I would also say, don’t worry about it. I did work a little in high school, but never used it as a reference for anything later.

      If you want to get a job for other reasons, good luck! I saw other commenters had some interesting suggestions.

    5. ferrina*

      I worked since I was 14, and I don’t think it helped me get into college or start my career after college. I did typical high school jobs- fast food, one office admin job- but I can’t remember if I even mentioned it on my application. After I graduated, no one cared about those jobs, because they were in an unrelated field and not seen as impressive.
      The only way it helped (beyond the paycheck) was getting a part-time food service job in college. But if you can work at the library or similar, that usually looks better post-college (and is usually more fun)

      1. Lydia*

        I started working at 14, too, and I feel like it helped in the grand scheme of being familiar early on with work norms, not necessarily with anything college related. I didn’t take the “traditional” route to college, so I can’t say for sure if it would have made a difference, but I do know it helped in other non-tangible ways.

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, it’s very very common to start college without having had a job. If this is purely about experience I have a suggestion for a different path to consider–if you have a lot of free time on your hands perhaps you might consider expanding your experience on the education side instead of on the job side? I’m not sure what you schooling situation looks like, but if you can study for AP tests in any areas of interest then once you get to college, having some credits already might help lighten your classload and leave you more time to work a job or internship while you’re there.

    7. ErinWV*

      This is true. I also hire student workers at my institution and a couple years ago I hired a young first-year who had never worked for a paycheck, but had a ton of experience with scheduling, invoices, etc. because she was an unpaid personal assistant to her mother, a professional midwife. She was very interesting to speak with and ended up being a great hire.

    8. WillowSunstar*

      I did babysitting before college, but that was about it. I temped in the summers when I came home and did some fast food on a part-time basis in college. If you can find a part-time job when you are in college, that will help and you can use it on your resume.

      One thing that builds skills and networking you may not have thought of — volunteer. Find a way to volunteer online and you can list it as volunteer experience.

    9. M*

      I’d just like to add my voice to those saying it’s OK for LW1 not to have a job before college. I went to college with no job experience and very poor life skills and I was able to get a retail job and manage the needs of myself and my cat reasonably well, based solely on my desire to be independent and not have to move back in with my parents. (For honesty’s sake, I dropped out of college, but I don’t think having a part time job as a teenager would have changed that for me, and now I’m a married homeowner with a nice remote job, so I’d say it worked out for me.)

      1. Wordnerd*

        I know this is a couple days old now, but as someone who works both with first-year students and supervises student employees at a university, it’s both totally normal to start college without work experience, and also, on-campus employment (dining services, tutoring, office jobs, etc) doesn’t require work experience to get hired. Get to your campus career office in your first few weeks, put together literally any kind of resume, and get an on-campus job that interests you.

  4. nnn*

    For #1, the first thought that springs to mind is camp counsellor at an overnight camp.

    I don’t know the current situation with summer camps (maybe someone who knows more can chime in?) but pre-pandemic some camps have hired teenagers for jobs that involve living on-site all summer or for the entire session.

    Your parents would have to drop you off at the beginning and pick you up at the end, or put a plan in place for you to get to and from where they are, but they could continue travelling while you’re working.

    1. Shaw*

      Yes! If you are comfortable spending the summer away from your family and enjoy working with kids, this is could be a great option. Most camps will hire assistant counselors starting at 16, and the majority are back to “normal” operations post-COVID. Many residential camps bring in international students to work as counselors over the summer, so they are set up to deal with staff who are not from the area and live at camp for the whole summer. Some will even pick staff up at the airport and transport to the camp location. Camps are always looking to find good staff – especially staff who can work the entire summer – and they are starting to hire now. It’s not an easy job or a ton of money, but can be really fun and you will learn a lot, plus it will give you formal experience to put on your resume and references if that is what you are looking for. -Former camp director

    2. Mockingbird*

      I was going to suggest this. It may not even be too late to apply for this summer. And I’d bet experience as a residential summer camp counselor would be really helpful for getting an RA job after your freshman year of college. Those come with housing benefits, I had friends who do it in college to save money. And camps hire college students, too, which could help you cover at least one summer of where you’ll live and work during college. If you want to and your parents would agree, there may be day camps near your grandmother. Live with her for the summer, give her some help, and work during the day.

      1. Camp staffer*

        It is definitely not too late! I work at a summer camp, and there is a nationwide staffing crisis for our industry. We will continue hiring until positions are filled. Our accrediting agency is American Camp Association and their website would be a great place to start. You will never get rich working at a camp, but you gain lots of invaluable skills, including independence, and form amazing friendships.

      2. Chirpy*

        The summer camp I worked at generally started hiring in January, so it’s getting late but not necessarily too late. They hired until the positions were filled. Male counselors were always short at that camp, for example, and some of the support staff jobs were more specialized.

        That camp would only hire high school students for kitchen or groundkeeping jobs, but they also had a lot of high schoolers attending, so they wanted staff to be a little older. Other camps do hire teenagers though.

    3. Ms. Coffee*

      This was my first thought as well. Then a place to stay for at least part of the summer is included and it can be great experience. They could do it for the next 2 summers until they’re college age.

      I hope they’re able to find something because I can understand the frustration!

    4. Eve Polastri*

      While you may not be able to get a job at this time, you have an amazing, unique life experience that bodes well for whatever you choose to do. You also have great material for a college essay that should boost your chances of getting into the college of your choice. It would be great to hear where you are in 5 years. Good luck! :-)

    5. marvin*

      Trying to find a summer job might be easier in general, logistically. I also wondered if the LW might be able to stay with their grandma or another relative over the summer and get a local job there.

      But if all of this is a hassle, I don’t think it’s the end of the world if it doesn’t work out. I’d recommend trying to get some internships in college, which would probably be more relevant work experience anyway.

  5. Ahdez*

    LW1, you will be fine if you don’t have a job before college. I understand because I was so worried about this when I was 17, but I ended up getting a great part time job on campus, as well as internships and retail jobs throughout college, and transitioned into the workplace just fine.

    If you still really want work experience, you could try working at a summer camp, which is a short term gig that typically hires teens but will give you experience – could even be residential if your family won’t stay in one place for long. You might also consider whether in your homeschooling you get involved with activities or volunteering that allow you to have an adult mentor that isn’t related to you as a future reference when applying to jobs.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m not sure if universities in the US have similar programmes, but there are summer internship programmes at UK universities for high school students that are paid and which provide accommodation. Since this OP does want to go to college, this might help them to get an insight into campus life as well as build a relationship with a specific college.

      1. Well...*

        Yes! My department did this last summer and the summer before, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The program we were involved in was only for kids from underserved economic backgrounds, and they did get paid (plus we applied for and got extra funding to increase their pay as much as we could). We’re doing it again this summer with almost double the participants.

        Keep in mind: on campus food is very expensive for them, so remind them to bring a lunch the first day or tell them the prices of the cafeteria in advance (they can be used to buying food at school that’s heavily discounted). Also, they do a lot better if they have a group of peers, so try to get a few projects going simultaneously.

        We didn’t have accomodation for then though, so this might not be a great solution for LW.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I think it might be worth applying and asking about accommodation and explaining the situation, as others may need it too. The programme at my university pays the UK Real Living Wage (£10.90 per hour based on a 35-hour week and I think they can get subsidised meals at the campus dining halls.

    2. cleo*

      This was my first thought too.

      I was a camp counselor 40 years ago and I loved it. Last summer, my niece worked as a counselor in training at a sleep-away camp and she also loved it. She did it for just a week or 2, for one camp session.

      There may be other summer jobs that also include room and board. I feel like beach towns and tourist towns used to have this – they’d bring in teens from out of the area to work during tourist season and provide some sort of housing.

      Same with room and board volunteer options.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      Agreed on your first point. I was in high school at a time when there were far fewer jobs as there are now. Plus I was in a metropolitan area with a ton of colleges, so almost no employers wanted to hire someone in high school if they didn’t have to. I lucked out finding a retail job at 17 (and that job taught me *so* much), but I also had friends who didn’t work until after high school.

  6. Alex Beamish*

    LW#1, I’m guessing you could get a job at some national brand business (McDonald’s comes to mind) so that when you move after a month, you could see about transferring to a location close to wherever you move to.

    1. Retail escapee*

      Transferring an employee in That kind of business won’t happen in the first 90 days to 6 months.

    2. doreen*

      A lot of those businesses are franchises so that it would actually be applying/getting hired at a new job to switch locations and even non-franchised chains aren’t going to transfer someone every month – there isn’t any benefit to the employer.

    3. The Person from the Resume*

      Probably not. Businesses don’t really wants to hire someone who says that they will be moving in a few months, much less a few weeks. Even minimum wage food service requires some training that is not worth it for a business if the employee leaves before that location gets the benefit of training.

      How do I know? My youngest brother couldn’t get a job in a restaurant the summer before he left for college because no one wanted to hire someone for only a few months. My other brother worked in a restaurant, and they hired people who barely lasted a few weeks. He pointed out that my youngest brother would have been a better, longer term employee than the flakes they did hire, but no business wants to hire someone, put them on payroll, and train them, knowing they’re leaving shortly. The ideal is to hire for longer term than that.

      My youngest brother eventually got a job a Walmart by not mentioning he was leaving for college at the end of the summer. And then he worked there a Christmas break or two, I think before he got a job at college.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      In theory, the skills learned at one restaurant should be directly transferrable to another. But really, each place is a little bit different and jumping from one place to another so quickly at an entry level role will actually require re-training at each location.

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        I think this depends on the skill level expected of the position. Jobs like barback (keeping the bar stocked), prep cook (pre-cooking or preparing ingredients prior to service- mostly chopping stuff and less time pressure), or busser (clearing tables, filling water glasses) are a lot more general and transferable from place to place than bartender, line cook, or server positions which often require more specialized training for the particular place and menu.

        I knew someone who lived on the road like LW1 describes, he styled himself a modern hobo and rarely stayed in the same place for more than a month or two. He did a lot of short-term seasonal jobs as a pizza cook, earning enough in a couple of months to live on the road for another couple of months. This was before there was such a thing as #vanlife, it was just called living in a van.

    5. Meep*

      It takes 3 months to train even at McDonalds. No one is going to want to deal with a 16 yo floater who moves every few days.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      That could be tough–most of those national brands are franchised, which means they’re owned individually and not collectively, although all owners work for and pay to use the branding of the corporation (see the book Fast Food Nation.) So there’s no entity that could transfer the LW from one store to another because each store does its own hiring. Having worked at one McDonalds could give her an edge applying to another because she understands the underlying routine, but it’s not like an office job where you can move laterally within the same private business.

  7. Heidi*

    A friend of a friend makes money streaming while he plays video games and has done this since he was a teenager. It’s not a full-time salary or anything but it’s his own money to spend. This is obviously not a viable option unless you spend a lot of time gaming, but producing content like this is a way to make money that really did not exist when I was a kid.

      1. Laure001*

        I concur. It would be a great option and you learn many skills… Talking in “public”, explaining a subject, editing, how to social network to market your videos, etc. My son started young and it’s his job full time now.

        1. GythaOgden*

          They don’t always have good internet access, and streaming requires a massive investment in gaming and broadcast equipment on top of stable broadband connection.

          People do upload videos to YouTube from cruise ships, so a vanlife channel might work, but you’ve got to be relatively consistent with uploads to get anywhere, and the videos that get attention now are really well-produced and polished and animated intros and stuff that might be beyond the reach of a nomadic teenager.

      2. EPLawyer*

        This, and a patreon or similar. The unique experience of van life from a KID’s perspective would be great. So many of the stories are adults, especially retirees. But this situation might just appeal to people. It’s worth a shot.

      3. Clovers*

        If they’re RVing, privacy is probably at a minimum, so I don’t know whether they’d benefit from diminishing it even further by vlogging. “Family vlogs” as a genre are usually abusive to some extent when the parents do it, so while doing it themselves wouldn’t have the same dynamic, it’s still a bad idea to expose yourself to a mass audience at that age. It also stands a minuscule chance of making any money. The less social media presence you have before adulthood, the better off you are for your whole life.

        1. Not a social hermit*

          “The less social media presence you have before adulthood, the better off you are for your whole life.”

          Welp, that explains the success of all those under-18 influences on TikTok.

    1. Lemon Meringue*

      Someone living in a camper doesn’t have space for acgaming setup, the privacy required to stream, or a reliable enough internet connection to stream regularly and consistently. It’s nice you want to help, but be realistic, please.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        That’s a very key consideration. Successful streamers generally have a top of the range internet connection and computers capable of processing the output. You don’t get subscribers if you’re broadcasting at low resolution with a connection that drops out regularly.

    2. Antilles*

      Good thought, but I don’t see it working for OP’s particular lifestyle. As someone who streams on Twitch occasionally (not for money, just for fun) and regularly watches Twitch/youtube gaming content, let me add some more detailed context context about actually making money off Twitch:

      1.) On Twitch, to even reach the status where you can potentially earn anything whatsoever, you need 50 people to follow you and around half a dozen people who watch your streams and chat simultaneously. This might sound like a small number, but there’s already a TON of content on Twitch. And once you reach that, you need to convince those people to give you money. Building that sort of following really takes consistency on streaming – several times per week, at fairly consistent days/times, etc. Engagement can vanish very quickly if you’re not consistent about it. If OP can go several days or a week without Internet/phone access, I don’t see how this works.

      2.) You really need your own space. As the streamer, you need to be talkative about the game you’re playing, engaging with chat, etc. Almost all streamers, even the most casual ones who aren’t trying to make money, have their own computer/gaming room where they stream from – to minimize background noise, to be able to focus on your chat, and to avoid annoying the other people in your household overhearing you talk for 2+ hours. In a 5th wheel camper, I don’t know if this sort of space can be established.

  8. Sel*

    LW1, as earlier commenters have said it’s totally okay if you don’t have a job before college, lots of people don’t. Once you get to college, if you want to work while you’re in school, I highly recommend looking for on-campus jobs, especially at the library! I am biased because I am an academic librarian, but college/university libraries often employ lots of students and it’s great experience in a variety of contexts (customer service, inventory-type management if you actually work with books/other physical materials, and you can often find data-based projects in library contexts as well) plus you’ll have easier access to the librarians who can be a big help with your degree program (again, I’m very biased but many students have told me this directly!), and the work schedules will be flexible with your class schedule, which is often not the case for off-campus work. We don’t expect our undergraduate student workers to have previous experience so that kind of thing shouldn’t be a hindrance. Of course, you can look for any campus job that interests you for many of the same benefits, but my bias means I must in good consciousness recommend the library first. Good luck!

    1. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

      My on campus jobs were great! And they were not need based — you could work if you wanted. They usually set freshman up with a couple “standard” jobs (Cafeteria, custodial, etc) and then you can apply for other jobs. I worked as a student helper in on my major’s department for 3 years. I also tried out being a tutor, working at the campus radio station and for admissions.

    2. LunaLena*

      At the university I work at, the recreation center (aka the school gym) and the dining facilities are the biggest employers of students. They both offer super flexible hours (legally, student jobs cannot schedule work hours during students’ class times) and perks like a free meal per shift, free equipment rentals, etc, as well as leadership opportunities and life skill learning. I would also recommend OP checks out what summer jobs are available at their school, if they don’t want to return to their parents’ camper during the summer – my school has summer jobs that include free housing on top of a wage, and the student employees are also free to get a second job off-campus if they wish.

    3. Wordnerd*

      I know this is a few days old now, but I am such a proponent of on-campus employment! I supervise campus tutors, so that’s where my bias is! But tutoring, dining, facilities/landscaping, office/clerical, operations, residence life! So many options.

  9. JR*

    LW#1, do you like to write? I wonder if you could do a bit of freelancing, writing about what sounds like a pretty interesting life situation. It probably wouldn’t pay much, but getting a few bylines could build your resume.

    But also, I agree – you don’t need prior work experience to get a many on-campus jobs.

    1. the cat's pajamas*

      LW#1 I wonder if volunteering might be an option. It wouldn’t be paid, obviously, but you would get some work skills like showing up on time, taking direction, etc.

      I’ve seen events where people go somewhere for a day to volunteer, like helping at a food bank, trash cleanup at parks, etc. If transportation is an issue, I’ve seen activities like writing letters to people in nursing homes, or potentially volunteering with a political campaign to call voters etc. if there are causes you care about.

    2. Anony Mass*

      As someone who hires freelancers, I will say that freelance writing is a competitive business that requires contacts and a portfolio of professional work samples. Many freelance writers have worked in permanent, full-time jobs for 10+ years before turning to freelancing. Freelance writing will probably not be a good solution for this person.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Thank you! People on this site keep suggesting freelance writing to any and all job situations.

      2. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Yep, and where there was once at least some possibility of finding a cheapskate who would hire someone with less/no formal experience if they were willing to do work-for-hire at rates well below market, nowadays rose cheapskates are using generative AI.

      3. BadCultureFit*

        I am howling at the amount of people telling a teenager in an RV to “just freelance!”

        People are deeply out of touch here.

        1. MS*

          Seriously. Professionals with schooling and years of experience under their belt struggle to get freelance work. The best they can hope for is free labor in exchange for experience.

        2. Not a freelancer, but I do write*

          Especially writing. Writing is hard and be it creative, technical or academic and most people suck at it and to not suck takes a lot of guided practice and editing.

          I’m a doctoral student who regularly grades undergrad papers and assignments and I’m usually lucky if writing is comprehensible and around a high school level. This isn’t to imply OP1 is stupid, but unless you’re some literary savant I can’t imagine a 16 year old is going to produce any writing of commercial quality without more help than it would be worth.

      4. Goldie*

        I also hire freelance writers and have been one before. I work at a college and most of my colleagues–faculty and administrators are not qualified to be free lance writers. I have so much job security because of this skill.

        It blows my mind when people recommend this to almost anyone.

  10. Latetotheparty*

    LW#1 Ask this question in the Facebook group, The RV Entrepreneur. They sometimes have people looking for someone to help them with small projects. They would also understand your situation

  11. Queenie*

    LW2 might be able to apply for that job *if* they choose not to hire S and *if* the job is still posted after S gets a rejection. I don’t think that they should do it, even if those circumstances are met.

    Personally? I would forever be wondering if the company passed on S because of the disability and the position was still open, especially if I knew S’s abilities and had helped them prepare and apply. For the record, no, I do not believe that S should automatically get the job just for applying. But knowing that they were passed over without a more suitable alternate candidate feels icky and potentially discriminatory to me, especially in a situation where the rejected candidate needs an advocate to get the process started.

    1. GythaOgden*

      I’m neurodivergent (autism), and struggled throughout my 20s to hold down a job or find something that didn’t send my agoraphobia into overdrive. (I could leave the house fine, but the slightest sight of something specific would send my mind into cascades of data like in the Matrix. Not good even at a volunteer opportunity!) So I would likely be in S’s position were I to still be looking for a job.

      I would be HIGHLY annoyed if you applied alongside me. I’d make a complaint, and I don’t do that lightly.

      I’ve seen a whole range of strategies for helping disabled people get and keep a job, both through dedicated organisations and in competition with neurotypical employees. For me temp to permanent was the best — it avoided the rather undignified way someone from local government who had arranged for an interview with me through a mental health resource centre //never turned up//. I went overnight from a university graduate with unusually low stamina to a needy person who could be treated with the utmost indignity and not even given the benefit of the doubt. It’s a shameful position to be in and it was a huge struggle; at this point in time autism in women wasn’t fully understood so even the places set up to help weren’t really able to give me the best support out there.

      Temp to perm meant I could compete on what I could show others that I could do rather than have to compete on paper. (It worked a bit too well, in that I had to stay at my job for 9 years because of personal issues, meaning that I’m now struggling to prove I can do anything else more sophisticated.) Public sector practice in my national health organisation is to give interviews to all qualified candidates with a specific range of neurological disabilities. This isn’t a sop to keep us quiet; it’s a hand up in a process that can be intimidating and stressful at the best of times. It doesn’t guarantee you the job, but it allows you to compete on your own terms.

      But your question, OP, is like the biblical story of the poor man’s lamb — the rich man (the person with dozens of other opportunities) stealing away the poor man’s opportunity, of which they probably have fewer. If you recognise yourself on the wrong side of one of Jesus’ stories, you’re probably in the wrong! It’s highly unethical, and if the person they are shepherding through the process got the opportunity, they’d be in a more equal place and might not need the help of the OP.

      OP — there are lots of opportunities for you out there. As ND, there are fewer opportunities for me to prove myself to others, and it would not look good — it would be stealing from this person, who has fewer opportunities than you, to pounce yourself. It also would look bad if you applied afterwards.

      I spent last night’s therapy session discussing how much progress is being made in regards to recognising neurodivergence in the workplace and shifting our idea of mental and neurological health/wellbeing towards a place where we recognise most if not all people need some kind of support. In the future maybe your job will be made obsolete by greater awareness of people who struggle to find work. But right now, you’re getting paid to assist others with their own journeys, and this would feel like a huge slap in the face to any of your clients and probably get you in hot water with whatever ethics board oversees your work.

      As they say, morality is what you do when others aren’t looking. Here, others ARE looking, and even applying after the fact could make you look tone deaf, particularly if S still needs your organisation’s help. As someone you would no doubt be helping, please don’t muscle in on other people’s opportunities. It’s not going to do you any good in the long run.

    2. Disabled trans lesbian*

      As someone is also Disabled and has used a similar service to get my current job, I definitely would not be happy if the person who was supposed to help me get a job applied for that same job at the same time!
      The reality is that Disabled people, due to ableism, often have to rely on these sort of services to get jobs, and it definitely would not only be a breach of trust, it would also be very problematic of the service to muscle in on one of the few jobs open to Disabled people.
      OP, if you got this job instead of S, S would very likely and rightly be furious and warn other people considering using your service against you and the service provider itself. I know I would.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Agreed. The optics are horrendous. Even if that’s not the intent it may still look like the person went in with ‘hey, I can do the job AND I don’t need accomodations!’

        It’s not accurate, but every time I got rejected for a job I’ve wondered if they took one look at me and decided to hire someone who wouldn’t need expensive furniture/regular time off to do the job.

        Irrational, but if I was applying through a disability service and the person helping me got the job instead that’s what I’d wonder.

    3. Snow Globe*

      I would expect that with this type of position, the LW probably signed an agreement (maybe as part of acknowledging an employee handbook?) not to pursue jobs that the organization is advocating for one of their clients. It seems wholly unethical and very risky for the organization if their employees did that.

      1. LW2*

        Hi all in this chain, LW2 here. I have not applied for the position. It felt like I had three choices. 1) not apply, for all the reasons. 2) recuse myself from S’s case and have a coworker take over – that felt icky, too, because I know S best and felt it would be putting her at a disadvantage. I also thought about doing all the writing and such for the coworker and just having them put their name on it. Again, felt icky, plus I’d have to disclose that I was job searching. 3) wait and see if she gets moved forward or declined and then apply, if the posting was still open. There’s that possibility, but again, weird that I’d be in contact with the employer first for one person, then myself.

        For the record, I have a disability, too.

        Queenie, I don’t know where “But knowing that they were passed over without a more suitable alternate candidate feels icky and potentially discriminatory” came from in regard to my letter, but the amount of just-subtle-enough-to-not-be-illegal discrimination in disability employment hiring is appailing.

        Disabled Trans Lesbian, that exact scenario was definitely a factor in my decision not to apply. If the same happened to me, I’d feel awful and unsupported. Plus, I think S would be great in this role and would love to see her get it!

        Roo, I’m so sorry my letter gave you such bad feelings. I would never go out of my way to “stitch up” (which I’m reading as sabotage, is that right?) an individual I’m supporting. My decision was made pretty quickly, though I did do a lot of post-decision thinking as a way of reflecting and understanding my own values. I thought that it would be a good letter for this blog, so sent it in anyway, not because I was truly struggling. I just like thought experiments. And apologies for the callous post script – it was glib in my letter but would never have been written like that in professional correspondence, even hypothetically.

        Snow Globe, that actually has never come up in the organization – and it’s a difficult topic to bring up without making everyone think you’re job searching! 95% of the time, the people we’re supporting are not on the same career path as we are. Obviously, some folks with disabilities are more drawn to work in disability services, s it can happen, just very rarely. As for signing a policy… I think that nature of non-profits are that have policies and procedures in place is unlikely. It takes time and money to have these actually discussed, decided, and produced – two things severely lacking in that world.

        1. Roo*

          Thank you for your response and your thoughtful updates – apologies for misjudging you.
          Best wishes and every success to you.

        2. GythaOgden*

          I too thank you for your candour and for understanding. My experience of disability-specific programmes was awful; the recruitment programme at our local authority tried to press us into training as social caregivers because ‘as disabled, you’ve no doubt had to be cared for…’ Er, no thanks. I have a politics degree from the LSE and trained as an accountant after uni. Not only would I be a terrible nurse, just because I’m disabled does not mean my identity should dictate my chosen career path.

          That was 2009, though, and even since then things have got better. My mentor at work is my own age and so understands both where I’ve been with regards to my neurodivergence and how assistance has blossomed in the intervening years. We have a long way to go still, but my relative privilege (white, middle class, educated and perceptive enough of my own situation) makes me want to help people Do Better.

          It can be an emotional topic, so although Jackalope is kinda right that you asked, I think the reason why responses may have been harsh is that you do touch a nerve.

          IME, disability is awfully personal. Some people like to think neurodivergence opens up different channels and perspectives and abilities. For some people, however, like me, it has constrained our ability to hold down professional jobs for which we would be well-qualified. I thank you for saying you’re disabled yourself — it puts things into context.

          The main point here, really, is that you are in a position of power. Being mindful of privilege is the key here: while generally speaking, many disabled people are under- or unemployed, many more aren’t. With 1 in 5 of the UK population estimated to be disabled, that’s a lot of people (~10m) and a lot of different levels of capability. I think if you have privilege or power in a situation then it’s up to you to help others out and step back a bit in order to level the playing field. Like, I have my own support, networks and colleagues outside the disability assistance scheme, so I wouldn’t start knocking on your doors while I’m looking for a new job.

          Society is awful but we can all do things to make it better, and one thing is not encroaching on support systems meant for people who need them most. (It came up in the gentrification thread the other day — yeah, sure, you can move somewhere LCOL with a HCOL salary but by doing so you’re just contributing to a form of inequality. Yeah, we can’t halt gentrification in many places, but we can choose not to contribute to it.) In this matter here, the first step is definitely to let S have this opportunity and for you to steer clear, because it helps S to level out her relationship with you and attain a bit more dignity than she has right now.

          Best of luck, though. I wish this kind of service had been available where I live when I really needed the help. Keep doing what you’re doing :))).

        3. MassMatt*

          Thanks for responding, there was definitely some piling on here and that can’t have been fun to read.

        4. Baron*

          Hi, LW2! I live with some pretty significant disability circumstances, and finding and maintaining good employment has been quite a struggle—I’m doing very well right now, but that hasn’t been the case for, oh, 90% of my adult life.

          In my experience working with people who do what you do, I’ve noticed two things in particular:
          1. They’re usually from marginalized communities themselves, be they disabled or something else.
          2. The jobs they can help you get are often lowest-rung-of-the-ladder kind of stuff. There was once an employer in my field that was notoriously awful in every way, and my counselor was so excited to place me there, because, “hey, it’s a professional job in your field, and usually we just place people as Walmart greeters or the like.”

          Maybe #2 isn’t true of your agency, but my first thought reading your letter was not, “What a horrible person, stealing a job from a person with a disability!” It was, “Wow, if a job For Disabled People is appealing to this LW, they must have faced barriers and challenges of their own.” I do agree with Alison’s advice, but I also wanted to offer you some kindness and empathy. This situation can’t be easy. I wish you the best.

        5. I have RBF*

          As a disabled person who tried to go through one of those “help the disabled get a job”
          things, I’m glad you didn’t apply, even though you too are disabled.

          Most of the jobs that come though those type of agencies were so far below my education and experience it was soul crushing. I went from being a salaried chemist to a part time job at just over minimum wage doing phone surveys. People there didn’t make enough to stay home when they were sick, so I got every virus that came through, plus it was horrible work. They expected us to be grateful for the job, too! Ugh, no.

          If it was a good job that S was actually qualified for, it would have chafed to have their own job coach applying as well.

        6. VRC*

          I think you made the right call in passing. I’m a voc rehab counselor, so same field, and the client relationship is everything. The last thing you’d want following you is an ethics complaint.

  12. Coin_Operated*

    To l1, If I were in your position I would use that time to learn tech, like web development or coding. You can sign up with something like Tree House, or another subscription based learning environment and then learn how to build up a profile. It may take a few years but once you have it down you could free lance that way. Hell, you may not even need to go to college, but could go right into tech, or work in tech part time if you do go into college.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Code Academy has a lot of similar content and has both free and paid options.

    2. Bree*

      This was going to be my suggestion too. It’s not clear to me if the LW needs paid work in advance in order to pay for college, but if that’s not the case, focusing on learning and skill-building makes sense. Use the time to prepare yourself for the future, and treat it with the same structure and discipline you would a job.

    3. Starbuck*

      “It may take a few years but once you have it down you could free lance that way. ”

      This isn’t terribly practical for LW, she is 16 and wants to start making money now, before college. Honestly digital art commissions would be more practical than this.

      1. Coin_Operated*

        maybe, it was just an idea. I know a lot of teenagers who learned coding and tech and by the time they were 18 or so, were able to work full-time in tech at a pretty high salary or work for themselves based on the online portfolios they built. Even if they wanted to go to college to work in a completely different field, this got them a high salary so they were able to live and pay for school. I wish I could have done that as a teenager.

    4. Traveler*

      I am OP. I’m really not into web design or coding but I have been trying to learn practical skills. My dad has taught me welding and sandblasting. I’m not very good at it yet because I don’t get to do those things very much. Along with freelance writing I am very interested in becoming a camper designer. I’m not very good at drawing but I’ve drawn out a few campers for fun. I’ve also started to learn about engines and how to fix RVs. I’m
      not only going to learn mechanical stuff but also how to fix/renovate interiors and how to fix the slide outs. My dad helps a lot of people fix their campers/RVs/vehicles so I’ve been learning a lot from him.

      1. Coin_Operated*

        That’s really cool. I’m currently designing my own tiny house to eventually build, but in the meantime am living in a travel trailer (though not traveling as my job isn’t remote). With all the demand for custom vans, RVs, tiny houses, and the like, there’s probably a great career somewhere in there if that’s what you want to do. Maybe you can offer maintenance help to other RV travelers wherever your parents camp at? You could make flyers to post at the campsite boards with how long you’ll be there and if anyone needs help with their RV’s and what your rates are? I know a lot of retired folks travel in RVs and maybe they would appreciate some help from you.

      2. Nina*

        It sounds like you’re getting a lot of mad practical skills that would set you up well for an apprenticeship in a vehicle construction or maintenance field. Have you considered deferring college for a few years and going straight into working? It’s more of a jump than going to college (fellow ‘raised by nomads, given no choices’ kid here, but I did have solid internet most of the time and stayed put for months rather than weeks) but it sounds like you need a cash injection before starting college anyway, and if you can already weld and sandblast and you’re learning how to fix RVs you’re probably a good fit for a trade apprenticeship.

        Trades usually get you more money upfront than degree-needed professions, but there’s no reason you can’t work a trade for a while and then go to college as an older adult with more life experience. I know a lot of engineers who started as automotive mechanics.

  13. AnonForThis*

    For LW1 – I’m not sure about jobs, but I can think of a few things you can do to make the transition to university or college easier, particularly given your current living situation (some of the following assumes you’re in the US). Make sure you’ve got a social security number and have access to your ID documents (particularly proof of citizenship). Get set up with your own bank account and research options for a stable mailing address for anything that involves paper mail, particularly with financial stuff and the university application processes (it’s really common for students to use their parents’ address, because you tend to move a lot during university). Figure out what state you will be considered a resident of when it comes to applying (because this can affect tuition costs). Look into how you would go about taking the SATs.

    These are all solvable problems, but not the kind of thing you want to be doing in a rush as not having a fixed address could make them more complicated.

    1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

      Your point about residency for in-state college is a good one, but your post makes it sounds like you expect the parents to withhold documents.
      There is nothing in the Letter Writer’s post that leads to that conclusion.

      1. Bit o' Brit*

        It doesn’t have to be malicious. Something like the parents renting a safe deposit box for important documents or storing them at Grandma’s while they’re on the other side of the country would still mean LW doesn’t have access.

      2. AnonForThis*

        No, nothing malicious, just that a nomadic lifestyle could make paperwork things more difficult, and it’ll be easier if they’ve got time to deal with any unexpected glitches. Financial and immigration related paperwork in particular can be unexpectedly rigid, and things like taking the SATs can take time to arrange.

        1. Antilles*

          That was my thought too – even if the documents are safely stored in Grandma’s house, does Grandma know where they all are? If you need a specific item, are the documents organized well enough that she’ll be able to find what you need? Do you have a list of the documents so you can figure out if, say, your birth certificate somehow got lost at some point and you need to order a replacement?

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I would recommend a safety deposit box for these reasons–plus, to doom-spiral a bit; one fire or robbery and poof, those documents are GONE.

      3. Samwise*

        No, it sounds to me more that mom and dad are not reachable 24-7.

        My son can reach me any time to co-sign for an apartment, send vaccination records, chuck $$ into his bank account if there’s an emergency, etc. even though we live 1500 miles apart. LW1’s parents may not have wireless or even phone service at times.

        It’s smart for young people to have copies of their own important papers/records.

    2. Gamer Girl*

      Your point about residency is a good one. Even if the parents prefer to travel everywhere, they should look for residency for the next two years in a state where LW wants to go to school. The sticker price difference can be huge for non-residents. In my case, tuition at an in-state school was 2.5k per semester. That ballooned to 9k per semester for non-residents. For residency at the time, you only had to have two years living in the state prior to starting at the school.

        1. len*

          Right, but it’s something the LW might want to think about or discuss with them because she’s the one who will live with the consequences. Seems like really helpful advice to me.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Maybe the LW could become an emancipated minor and set up some kind of residency on her own? Just blue-skying, but if her parents can’t do so, that might be an option for financial aid purposes.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              She doesn’t say she wants to leave her parents. That is an incredibly extreme step.

              She doesn’t say she wants to stop the nomadic lifestyle.

              She doesn’t say she has no expectation of paying for college.

              She says she’d like to figure out a part-time job she could do while engaged in the nomadic lifestyle her parents have chosen. Some people had good advice for work at campgrounds; some had good advice for remote work (though it might require reliable internet); some had good advice about what they look for as college admissions officers. (And that’s an ability to talk about what you learned from your experiences, not to have only the experiences in one specific path and all of the other paths are Wrong and Doomed.)

              1. Lucky Meas*

                OP’s goal is to get a part-time job so she can have work experience before college. It is perfectly appropriate to point out that her lifestyle can also make applying to college difficult, and suggest ways to make it easier. It’s up to OP to decide what to do.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        If the parents don’t want to settle in one state, OP can choose to either settle herself in the area she wishes to attend college and work for two years or look at local community colleges – there might be some that don’t charge different rates for residents or non-residents.

        1. Samwise*

          Many do, but the overall cost is still going to be less than at most state university systems. And a lot less than most private schools.

    3. TeaCoziesRUs*

      I know there are places that are basically mail forwarding services. I’ve known a few military members who were even more nomadic than normal – they used these services. (Basically they’d get a daily or weekly email with what mail had arrived for them. Then they’d arrange with the company to forward whatever they actually needed to an address they know they’d be at on the next week.) It might help if you don’t go near your grandmother’s house or you don’t want your mail going there.

  14. BattleCat*

    LW1, do you play any kind of instrument, sing, juggle, do magic tricks or other performance art? Or could you learn? Maybe you could be a busker or street performer. You may not be able to put it on a resume but you could potentially earn some cash.

    1. Daisy*

      I would certainly put busking or street performing on a resume as a young teen. There are many skills needed beyond showing up and putting out a hat – starting with researching local business permits. My city requires buskers and short-term vendors to buy licenses.

    2. ACG*

      In my teen years my friends from our homeschool group did balloon animals/art for tips. They’d go to the mall or a restaurant and ask permission from management to set up for a few hours and depending on the crowd could make a good chunk of cash. Not particularly helpful if LW and fam are still moving around, but one of those friends ended up being hired as waitstaff for a restaurant they regularly set up at because they developed a good working relationship with the manager.

  15. Panda Bandit*

    LW #1, maybe try selling a different kind of item on Etsy? I ran the Etsy account at an old job and it was extremely difficult to make any sales in jewelry. I even had access to high end stuff too, like ruby and sapphire necklaces! I wish I had better advice for you.

    1. Llellayena*

      I was thinking if she wanted to sell jewelry, to look into flea markets near where they stop. Parents would have to front the rent of the table and there’s probably not a ton of profit but it is experience.

      1. I edit everything*

        Flea market tables tend to be cheap, too. The big one near us only charges $15, I think, for a spot.

    2. VRC*

      I was thinking Etsy/Poshmark/Depop resale – vintage/designer/cute stuff from thrift stores, or basically anything there’s a demand for. I did that for awhile while taking a lot of road-trips. Space could be a concern though so that would be something to consider with size/quantity of items purchased. Also would have to be something you’re interested in, but you can do it on your own time. Also an interest in the product and running a small business would be needed :) I made several thousand in extra cash each year when I did this, not going to buy a house with that but if we are talking some savings or spending cash it could be a good option and also fun I thought.

  16. "It was hell," says former child.*

    LW1, I make most of my income through a freelancer website, Upwork. Think about what you can do well (proofreading? sketching? designing characters?) and then create a profile for yourself on Upwork. If you really believe you have no skills, there are still a fair number of short-term jobs on Upwork for beta readers, where a client hires you to read a novel or short story and give them detailed feedback to help them improve the story/revise. The pay is frequently in the range of $25 or $50, sometimes more. (When you search, make sure you’re searching for jobs, not for talent. Currently there are 12 beta reader jobs on Upwork, which will vary day by day.)

    The catch with Upwork is that the website takes the first 20% of your earnings. So, if you get hired to beta-read someone’s novel for $50, you’ll get $40 before taxes. You don’t have to constantly be online, though you do have to get internet access so you can sign into your account and give the client the feedback on their story/novel. But if you do, say, two beta reading jobs per week, that can add up quickly. (That said, if someone wants you to beta-read a 100,000-word novel for $35, you might think about whether it’s worth it to you, since 100,000 words is a really long book…)

    If you can think of other things you can do, there are likely to be jobs on Upwork for it. (There are other websites like Fiver, but I think they’re more likely to require you to physically be in a location, whereas I do all my Upwork work remotely.) Good luck!

    1. I take tea*

      I was thinking proofreading or editing too, based on your letter you have a good language.

      Subtitling? I live in a country where the accessibility laws says that official videos must be texted. It’s good, but it does take time and I’d love to outsource it.

      Transcribing? There are archives that collect interviews and they need to be transcribed.

      If you have a strong other language you could do translations. Machine translations are not that good.

      You have an interesting and pretty unique lifestyle. As others have said, see if you could find someone interested in a series of articles or vlogs, maybe a youth magazine (if those still exist). It would probably not pay much, but could be a really good thing to have in your portfolio.

      Good luck!

      1. Fiorinda*

        Speaking as a freelance editor, I would advise LW1 against attempting proofreading or editing. They’re complex professional skills that usually require people to have a postgraduate certificate if not a Masters degree, not to mention membership of a professional organisation such as IPEd or CIEP, to be taken seriously. LW1 would need a lot more than good language, and a lot more experience than a high school-level student has access to, to work as an effective editor or proofreader. And speaking as a former university and high school teacher, as they do have good writing skills for high school level, tutoring local high school students in their strong subjects and/or essay writing is what I’d recommend to make use of them.

        1. Nonprofit writer*

          Sorry, but you definitely don’t need an advanced degree or a certification to do proofreading and editing. A college degree could be useful, maybe, to help build strong writing/editing skills and broaden her general base of knowledge (which can be helpful in catching content errors). But there are also basic courses in proofreading/editing.

          I say this as someone who did proofreading/copy editing for years (and in fact I did not even take a proofreading class—I just learned on the job from a very good managing editor at a small publisher where I worked for a while).

          1. londonedit*

            It depends what you want to do. Speaking from my point of view as a project editor at a major publishing company, no, there’s absolutely no way I’d hire a 16-year-old with no real proofreading or editing experience. Our freelancers are mostly ex-industry professionals, or people with recognised qualifications who come recommended from other colleagues in the industry. People always say ‘Oh, why don’t you do some freelance proofreading’ but it isn’t always that easy. But the OP doesn’t have to set their sights on working with major publishers – there might be other sorts of proofreading they can do.

            1. Nonprofit writer*

              Londonedit, I agree in this specific case—I wouldn’t hire an inexperienced 16 year old for that type of work either! I just want her & others reading this to understand that the barriers to doing this are not usually quite that high. I realize that for some types of editing, these kinds of qualifications may be required, I just don’t think it’s necessary in all fields.

            2. TeaCoziesRUs*

              Heck, I’ve considered reaching out to some of the companies on Amazon who have listings that seem either generated by AI or poorly translated from Google to see if they would pay me to clean up their English postings. :) It might be worth considering – Amazon can usually pull up even on weak or spotty connections. And since it’s basic proofreading and editing it would simply require a good command of English.

        2. metadata minion*

          Yes, same thing with translations. Speaking another language is certainly a prerequisite for translating to/from it, but translation and interpretation are their own specialized skills.

        3. Peanut Hamper*

          What is IPED? Google is not being helpful. (There are a lot of organizations with those letters.)

        4. Redacted*

          “[Proofreading and editing are’ complex professional skills that usually require people to have a postgraduate certificate if not a Masters degree, not to mention membership of a professional organisation such as IPEd or CIEP, to be taken seriously.”

          Ah, over-credentialling. Gotta love it.

          No wonder people are turning to ChatGPT.

    2. Problem!*

      Careful with sites like Fiverr, in my experience they’re loaded with bots that farm out jobs to people who are willing to work for pennies. I do graphic design and stopped using those sites because I charge $60/hour and lost out to people charging $1/hour every time.

    3. Starbuck*

      ” client hires you to read a novel or short story and give them detailed feedback to help them improve the story/revise.”

      Let’s be realistic here – would YOU hire a 16 year old with no credentials or experience for a task like this? How are people ranked/selected for gigs? It’s nice that people are trying to come up with ideas – but this seems really impractical.

      1. "It was hell," says former child.*

        Beta readers actually are meant to be “regular” potential readers rather than professional editors. No, I wouldn’t hire a 16-year-0ld (even a good writer/reader) to literally edit my novel. But as long as she’s a relatively active reader and has already read a fair number of books (and by age 16, I definitely would have qualified–and maybe she does, too), I would totally take her opinion into consideration–as one of several (or even many) beta readers. Clients on Upwork typically hire a number of beta readers to get a number of opinions on their novels/stories/whatever.

        This is why beta readers are paid low rates, usually $50 or so, sometimes more, sometimes less. I’ve seen beta readers paid as little as $5 (whuh?) to as much as $450 (possibly too high). To professionally edit someone’s 30,000-word novel, I would charge about $40-45/hour, which would take somewhere between 20 and 30 hours depending on how rough the text is, which would end up being costing between $800 and $1350, possibly more. That’s not what a beta reader does–a beta reader is just a practical user, like someone who is hired to try out a video game and give feedback on it. (In this case, she’d be one of several or many people hired to read a book and give their personal opinion on it. She’d have to be serious and write a good page or three of detailed, serious feedback. But she’s not inherently unqualified just because she’s young.)

        Traveler (OP), if you’re reading this, trust me! I also teach college-level creative writing at an art college where my 18-year-old students are not necessarily prepared for the Ivy League, but they’re still intelligent, and many of them provide good to excellent feedback for their classmates.

        The only stumbling block is that, according to another poster, Upwork requires you to be 18. Not that I’m recommending that you get around this stumbling block, but hmmm…

  17. njn*

    LW1: My daughter was in a similar situation. Although we often stayed in one place for a couple of years she couldn’t legally work because we were on diplomatic passports. And yes, there were a few eyebrows raised when applying for her very first job when she got to college. She had a reply already prepared, explaining her background that prevented her from getting an official job (the interesting backstory works! Use yours to advantage) and continuing on with… I volunteered for this, I organized that, etc. She had multiple job offers. Also, don’t be quick to dismiss the skills you are acquiring with your rambling lifestyle- flexibility, not rattled by change, ability to get along with people in very close quarters for extended periods of time, ability to manage your own schedule, etc.

  18. Zanshin*

    Re letter writer number 1: I want to point out that once she’s in college, summer jobs are going to be dependent on her ability to maintain stable housing. I have heard that low income students far from home who live in dorms are often without housing or meal in between sessions.

    1. nnn*

      If your college does close dorms in the summer, one option is to find out if they’re doing anything with the dorms and see if there are employment opportunities there.

      For example, one of my schools ran summer camps for teenagers and had them staying in the dorms, so they needed some employees who would stay there too and supervise.

    2. WS*

      I was far from home in college but the college was very well prepared for that, as it had a lot of international students who weren’t going to fly home more than once a year (I was from the same country but from a remote location it was expensive to get to). There were no meals available in housing but the university was still operating so we had to walk over to the main part of campus for food. So it’s not necessarily a problem at all colleges, but definitely something to check out.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Not all colleges are in “college towns”, though. It’s easy to find a summer sublet or summer-only lease in a town where a large chunk of the rental housing is targeted at college students and summer is a time with a substantial increase in vacant units as a result. It’s much harder in some large cities than happen to have colleges. (I learned this the hard way trying to find a summer sublet in the SF Bay Area about 20 years ago. Plenty of colleges around there, but a real lack of landlords willing to rent to a 19 year old for a couple of months. I ended up couch surfing, living in increasingly sketchy hotels, and ultimately quitting my summer job to move back home to another state due to being unable to secure summer rental housing.)

  19. Ellie*

    OP1, see if you can get a temporary or volunteer gig at a festival, sporting event, or camp ground. Your parents might be willing to relocate for a week or so temporarily to give you some experience at least. You could string together a few of these to get some decent work experience.

    Alternatively, what are you hoping to study? If its something like IT, you can start a github account and show your skills through pet projects, etc. You don’t have to have paid work for that, and it would demonstrate some of the same skills. Similarly, if you could start an online blog or profile that’s related to your field, that could also work quite well in lieu of experience.

    Try not to worry too much about it though. I didn’t have a job during high school and it didn’t hold me back at all. Colleges and universities are actually great places to pick up work, they often have job adverts that are aimed specifically at students. You should also make sure you get all the loans and assistance you are entitled to, if you’re intending to support yourself.

  20. KC*

    The job advisor is in a uniquely strange position, and I do wonder if the organization has any guidelines around it

      1. LW2*

        It’s a hard thing to bring up without making everyone think you’re already looking! Buy it has never been discussed during onadding or subsequent training.

        1. MassMatt*

          Again, thanks for your thoughtful responses here, and sorry if that came off as flippant, but seriously this situation is something that your workplace should have a policy to address. You are an ethical person, trying to do the right thing, but this sort of temptation is likely to come up frequently.

        2. RT*

          I wonder if it’s something to bring up once you have another job and are serving out your notice period?

  21. Grim*

    Regarding LW1, like Alison and the other commenters have said, I don’t think it should cause you any problems if you’re unable to get a job while in high school. Plenty of people don’t. I didn’t even get my first official part time job until I was halfway through university! If you desperately needed the money, that would be a different thing altogether, but it seems like you mainly want the experience and independence of working, exposure to workplace norms, etc. Any experience you’d gain from working at McDonalds or Walmart now, you can just as easily get in a few years’ time, and in most of those sorts of jobs a 19 year old with no prior work experience doesn’t look much more unusual than a 16 year old with the same. I can see how it must be frustrating if you want a job now and can’t get one, but it won’t hurt your chances at gaining employment later on or stand out as strange if you didn’t work during high school.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      I agree. Unfortunately, Alison’s answer is the most realistic IMO. Many people want to be able to work from home now, and it can be very tough to break in. There’s simply not a large pool of unfilled, unskilled WFH jobs especially for people with unreliable internet. And from the letter it sounds like the parents move too frequently for in person jobs.

      Once the LW does go to college, it will be much easier for her to find some sort of minumum wage job in the community and then by being reliable and hardworking she can gain experience and move up. Yes, an on-campus job or work study is great, but if the LW stays at college over break instead of travelling to wherever her parent’s are she will need a job that continues during school breaks to keep the cash flow coming in.

      * LW may want to look into summer camp jobs, though. (The kinds of camps that do not exist where I live, but are featured in movies and TV shows where kids go away for the whole summer and have color wars and other crazy stuff.) That might be an option; although, the parents would need to arrange their travels to drop off/pick up the LW or at least manage to be near an airport. Although mom is helping, it’s unclear if the parents are interested in rearanging their travels to support the LW’s desire for a job before college.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        Re: Summer Camp – There are camps where the campers only go for a week, but the counselors stay the whole summer (w/ room & board). I do know the camps in the movies exist but are mostly created for plot convenience and the week-long ones are far more common.

        1. Bear in the Sky*

          I was a counselor at several summer camps, and the campers were never there for more than a week or two, but the staff stayed all summer. That was always the arrangement.

  22. Sans Serif*

    L1: The question is, how long do your parents usually stay in one spot? If they stay for a whole summer, you could get a summer job. If they stay from Thanksgiving through the New Year, you could get a temporary holiday retail job.

    1. Mighty midget*

      Sounds as if it’s usually less than a week

      “There are also many times we don’t have internet/phone service for 2-3 days (sometimes a week if we can stay in one spot and mom and dad don’t have to work).”

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Might be something where they can work in batches, and then upload the batch when they have good wifi.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          In that quote it says they only stay in the places with no connectivity for extended periods when the parents don’t have to work.

    2. WellRed*

      Yes, what works when your kids are small evolves as they grow and it’d be nice if these parents could consider moving less frequently a certain times. I like other suggestions about campground work etc.

    3. Engineer*

      Summer jobs start hiring in April, and holiday jobs hire in October. OP’s parents don’t seem to stay anywhere longer than a week, let alone a whole season.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      Maybe they do now out of necessity, but normally retail stores hire in early October for the holiday season. That time is to train the staff on all parts of the store and also because they start getting in the big shipments in early November. Shipments usually trickle off by mid-December so stores are stuck with a ton of product post-holidays.

    5. Clisby*

      It sounds like they don’t do this, but they really should consider doing it for a 16-year-old. Especially staying put for a summer.

  23. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    OP1, if can connect with other homeschool teens across the country, you might be able to get ideas for remote work.
    If you would like childcare, you can probably find work quickly with other campers. As someone who has travelled a lot with my daughter, I would have loved to hire someone like you for a break when we travelled. Or you could teach younger homeschoolers remotely if you would like that. Many homeschool families are flexible so the wifi gaps might not be an issue. I mostly homeschooled my daughter through 8th grade but was not the right person to teach her math. The very best teachers I hired were homeschool high school students who helped teach their younger siblings. Finally, check out Outschool. They might not have an age minimum for teachers.

      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        In homeschooling I referal to it all as teaching. I’ve hired several teenagers over the years and it worked out great.

      2. Lacey*

        It really depends on the high schooler. The local public school near me has a program where high schoolers can tutor younger students. I don’t think they’re paid, it’s during school hours and there’s some kind of class credit, but the teens I’ve spoken to really enjoy it.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I feel like that depends on the student and the situation. For students and families who are used to being outside of the traditional school system they’re more used to learning from a wide variety of people in a wide variety of situations, so a high school student providing one-on-one or small-group lessons to younger students doesn’t seem completely off-base to me.

        I had my first substitute teaching experience covering a high school history class for a week when I was 12 without any sub notes from their regular teacher, and it was kind of a disaster (I know a lot more about lesson planning now! And somewhat more about history!) but it went a lot better than people reading this are probably picturing when they hear “a 12 year old left unsupervised in charge of a high school class for a week” because it was one of those private hippie schools where the students didn’t have to go to classes unless they signed up for them and felt like attending that day. Very different scenario than if I’d somehow convinced the neighborhood high school to let me substitute teach at age 12.

        (I continued to substitute teach as needed while a student at assorted hippie schools until I graduated high school, sometimes as the closest thing to an “adult” in the room but often with a non-knowledgeable adult in the room providing at least theoretical supervision when available. By the time I was in 10th grade I led a make-up field trip to the local arboretum for other high school students who were absent the day the class originally went. We all just took the city bus and went on a daylong hike with no adults involved so they could get their notes and sketches for the day they’d missed. Went fine. It’s just a different world when everyone is there voluntarily and used to being in charge of their own behavior.)

    1. doreen*

      Teaching/tutoring/helping with childcare while the parents are around might be a possibility – but providing actual child care in the absence of the parent isn’t. Homeschooling isn’t what is causing this LW to have difficulty finding a job – it’s her family’s lifestyle. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with their lifestyle but every choice in life has its pros and cons and something that goes along with constantly being on the move is that it’s difficult to have the sort of relationships that are needed to get hired for certain jobs – I’m not going to hire someone I’ve known for two days to watch my kid or even to walk my dog while I am away unless there’s someone who can vouch for them (friend, neighbor, a service) and the LW isn’t going to have that.

      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        At a camground you could hire someone to play with your kids outdoors where you can see them.

        1. doreen*

          That’s kind of what I meant by “helping with childcare while the parents are around” but I’m not sure how realistic it is for the LW to expect to be able to do that more than occasionally.

  24. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (inflated title) – Just ask her directly (she doesn’t know you already spoke to your mutual manager), say you noticed and what’s the situation?

    It does seem odd that the manager needs to “get this addressed” rather than just tell her. I can think of 2 pissibilities: 1. it’s an IT thing where the signature gets pulled automatically from some other source of information and that source is wrong (we has this system at my previous place and it is fairly common) – or 2. she really is being promoted to PM and the manager can’t announce that yet or make it official or whatever.

    (I don’t think ‘someone already having the PM role’ precludes having more than one PM, unless you only have one project!)

      1. Myrin*

        FWIW, I weirdly enjoyed “pissibilities” even though that’s not usually my kind of humour. :D

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I hope co-worker doesn’t think this means she can use the title on her resume, because HR knows her actual title.

    2. MassMatt*

      I don’t think it’s something for the OP to bring up with the coworker, OP is not their manager.

      I work in an industry where all titles, licenses, certifications, etc in a signature line need to be approved, so the thought that someone would just give themselves an inflated title is weird.

      As is the fact that the manager says they will have to “get this addressed”. That’s an oddly passive way to talk about it, this should be a very simple and direct conversation. Maybe the manager is new, or a wimp?

      If this is just treated with shrugs, then hey, why not change your signature to Senior Vice President? Massmatt, Esquire? CEO?

      1. Some words*

        I’m going with Wimp. Seriously, it would take one sentence from the manager to resolve.

    3. irene adler*

      Maybe “get this addressed” means the manager has asked for this to be corrected and was ignored.

      I have a co-worker who, to the public, says he is a director or even a vice-president of the company (like on LinkedIn where he has created multiple profiles). But the org chart indicates he’s a supervisor.

    4. anon for now*

      I had a coworker who gave herself an inflated title and it was not for either of the possibilities you list. Her title in HR was one thing but she referred to herself as something entirely differently and was not in the process of being promoted. She called herself a director when her title was more akin to coordinator. She also referred to me as being in a supporting role to her though we were on the same level (ugh). Her boss did nothing about it. It was bizarre.

      1. Student*

        Fun fact, if a person manages to pretend they have an inflated title long enough that their boss changes, it sometimes becomes permanent and real. Because the new boss doesn’t know any better, and it’s been happening for years, so obviously that must be how it is! Works best at companies where the manager doesn’t actually have access to much HR data, or isn’t inclined to look at the HR data often.

        1. Majnoona*

          This happened to the person who replaced me as coordinator. He named himself program director, the chair changed, and the new chair assumed it was right (and he got more money because the director position came with summer salary). so glad I am outof there.

    5. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      My assumption with the “get this addressed” might be have to do with, as LW3 phrased it, that the co-worker is the “equivalent of a project coordinator” and the title she is using is the “equivalent of a project manager”.

      It seems like maybe it’s not as clear as the co-worker put an actual higher title, more that they worked it around. So maybe they are putting “Deputy Llama Manager” or technically their title is Llama Specialist and they are putting “Specialist, Llama Management”.

      It also might be the case that at the employee’s prior role they had the title of “Llama Management Head”, have technically taken a comparable or better role, but somehow it has the title of “Llama Coordination Lead” and they don’t see why when they have the same job or a higher job than before they should take a hit in title.

  25. Titles*

    #3 – I noticed one day that one of my relatively new direct reports (Records Clerk) gave themselves a much higher title (Records Manager) in their email signature line. I was surprised to see it and looked back at old emails to see when this change happened. It was a couple of days prior. I first talked to the grand boss to make sure that he didn’t give permission for this change in title. He didn’t and was also surprised to hear of it. I then explained to my direct report that we have to use our actual titles and why (so that external and internal clients will understand what we do). I also explained the significant difference in responsibilities between those two titles within our company and that someone else filled the role of Records Manager. They said they didn’t know how it happened but blamed it on a fluke in Outlook. They immediately changed their title back on the signature line, and we moved on. It was interesting to read that Allison has received emails about this. I thought it was so strange when it happened. I still shake my head when I think about it. It’s not like this person takes on extra responsibility and feels a higher title would be more reflective of what they do. They aren’t even doing the full scope of their position yet. It just came out of left field. I would have asked them why if they had owned up to changing it instead of blaming it on a fluke. I think they just didn’t realize the difference between the two titles and liked the sound of one better than the other.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This can definitely be a naivety thing, sometimes it can also come up (still inappropriate) if someone can’t get their emails dealt with as “coordinator” and realizes just changing a word makes a difference (so, still naivety) or, rather unlikely, if they copied someone else’s email signature template when setting up. OP’s boss just needs to tell the person to knock it off, it’s right there in black and white.

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      Good on you. That’s what the manager in the LW’s letter should have done.

      I’m sure in all the letters, it’s always a higher, more impressive sounding title. People (your employee) want to sound more important. And I suspect they’re hoping managers won’t notice the change on their signature line but people they email for the first time will. Or if managers do notice, they will be passive and not confront them about it.

      It’s like the person is trying “it doesn’t hurt to try” “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permision” but frankly it this case it does hurt. Inflating a title is basically lying about it. And it can cause people to wonder what else they may stretch about the truth.

    3. Meep*

      We had a guy with a Masters and 0 years of experience give himself the title of “Senior Engineer” when he started. We told him no and he changed it to “Principal Engineer” (a higher title for those curious). He ended up as “just” Engineer on his business cards.

      He also thought he was better than me because he had that Master’s and was a whole year older than me. /eye roll. So it was an ego thing.

      1. LJ*

        How in the world does a new grad get the idea they can just call themselves a “Principal Engineer”…

    4. Generic Name*

      I had a coworker who gave himself a “promotion” this way. Around this same time, I was asking my boss about a title change, and she was like, “Well, we don’t really have a process around this, and Fergus changed his title on his email signature and nobody said anything……..” Of course this included our mutual boss not saying anything to him about it. So I added “senior” to my title (I had over 10 years experience at that point) in my email. Now our signatures are controlled by management. Wonder why…

    5. greenland*

      It does take at least a few years in the workplace to understand the distinction between the various titles that, without experience, don’t have an obvious “seniority” chain: coordinator, executive, manager, director, supervisor, etc. It seems intuitive only once you’ve been in these kinds of office spaces for a while, but how does “coordinating” differ from “managing” really? I don’t think it excuses using a title other than your own, but I have to assume a pretty new-to-the-workforce person might not realize that they are claiming something that’s a step or two up from their actual role.

  26. Gaëlle*

    Campgrounds usually need housekeeping employees (for the bathrooms, reception and common areas etc). Upon arrival at a new campground, just let them know you’re available to work and until when you’ll be staying there.

  27. Corporate Goth*

    LW1, what about setting up a travel blog/social media? Moving around the country sounds like a really cool opportunity – use that to your advantage!

    I’d follow a site that posted pictures or video and told me a little about each place you were, which you might be looking into anyway for homeschool. You can usually schedule posts for the days you don’t have internet – most reward posting on the same schedule, I’m pretty sure.

    There are lot of text and video tutorials for this sort of thing, too. If you don’t already know it, you can learn things like how to research the area (long-form posts), marketing techniques (short form posts), how to take better photos and edit them, how to set up a website, etc. Monetizing it may be harder – you could be an Amazon affiliate, seek sponsors, etc – but you get useful skills even if you don’t make a lot at first.

    If you want to stick to something like Etsy, do you have an inclination for digital art where someone could automatically download it even if you aren’t in a position to see the sale for a few days?

    Good luck!

    1. Traveler*

      I am OP. Many people have commented on making a blog or YouTube/TikTok videos. There are many many videos from people who live in campers/vans full time. Instead of making yet another traveling chanel/account, I think I would like to make videos about how to fix campers or vehicles or even your fun toys like dirt bikes or 4 wheelers. I really want to get into designing campers and I started to learn to fix things. My dad helps a lot of people fix their campers/vehicles/fun toys and I’ve been learning a lot. He even taught me how to weld and I know how to sandblast but I’m not very good at it yet.

      1. greenland*

        OP, this sounds like awesome experience, and I’m glad you are focusing on the things you really enjoy doing. One recommendation is to try to get certifications in some of these trade skills, like passing the test to be a Certified Welder (as far as I can tell, that doesn’t require someone to be over 18, though definitely worth calling and confirming). Getting certifications will allow you to describe your experience more clearly when you’re talking about work experience, and it will likely also unlock access to short term gigs.

  28. Lippy Lady*

    LW1 – your situation is the perfect one for having a youtube channel about what it’s like travelling full-time with your family and having school on the go.

    If you’re not shy about having essentially a media diary, you could post on various topics:

    -being educated while travelling, how you deal with homework and assignments. How do you find space and time to study, how do you organise your time and study needs?

    -living lose and personal with family. (Check with your family before posting about them! ;))

    How do you all deal with living close together? Is it fun to travel around, what are the pros and cons?

    -if you have certain interests and meet new people you could do interviews with them and with their permission post the interviews on your channel. Even something like gardening or camping tips.

    Have a think about this – you could have a look at other people’s youtube channels for tips, do a media course online. Travel-diary type stuff is often interesting especially if the scenery is interesting. Or even reporting on local affairs and your reaction to them.

    This could be a good opportunity to learn about media production, editing, articulating ideas and experiences, developing interviewing skills etc.

    You might even be able to get some sponsorship to cover basic expenses depending on the direction of your videos.

    If you don’t like this idea you should be able to find some online work even something as basic as data entry, tutoring.

    Think about what you’re good at and do some googling about how you could apply it – chat to your parents about how they deal with working remotely. They might have some suggestions.

    You could also look at fruit picking or something similar depending on areas you visit.

    It can be hard work but even short term you would get experience at working with people.

    Good luck. :)

    1. doreen*

      There is a consumer/travel advocate who writes syndicated columns and has a website that I read – he’s mentioned that he travels full-time with his kids. But he’s just mentioned it. And every time he does, I have so many questions about how the little details work. The really big ones like school are easy to figure out – obviously if you move frequently, homeschooling is the only option. But there’s a million other things that are going to be different for people traveling full-time rather than those who have one or more home bases and travel a lot- like for example, medical care. You can go to an urgent care anywhere for immediate needs but what do people do for more chronic conditions – do you make sure to be in a certain place when follow-ups are due or prescriptions need to be refilled? There might be enough interest in that sort of information to sell freelance articles or get paid for ads on a blog/you tube channel.

  29. Ms. Coffee*

    For LW1 – something easy to start might be a babysitting service. Take babysitter training, first aid and CPR classes. Become certified. And offer to watch kids for other families in the campgrounds. You’d have to build up references but I’d think there might be some level of trust if the families know your parents and home are close by.

    Another thought is getting on TikTok or Instagram and making videos about your unique experience or places you travel. Learning video editing and social media marketing would be fantastic skills that many businesses would love to have in an intern. Just make sure to use a lot of caution about sharing personal information and your location. This is something I’d only recommend doing temporarily and shut down when you’re able to get another job because I think sharing your entire childhood on the internet is a BAD idea.

    My third idea is asking other full time traveling families if they have any ideas. I’m sure many of the adults have remote jobs and some may have leads for things that might not require a degree.

    I wish you luck and admire your drive to get ahead, LW1!

    1. Temperance*

      They don’t stay anywhere long enough to actually build trust. It sounds like they are actively moving constantly.

  30. Cassi*

    You could look for summer camps that offer a CIT (counselor in training) program where you do a couple weeks of being a camper/training then become a helper after the CIT program ends.

  31. I should really pick a name*

    Maybe just be direct? “I thought you were hired as a project coordinator”

    1. Self-Appointed Bear Safety Trainer*

      Just make sure first that you (or whoever is being direct with her) is 100% certain that she wasn’t either hired with that title in the first place, or hasn’t been told since she was hired that her position is what it says in her email signature.

      Early on in one job I was confronted multiple times by coworkers and even by the office manager saying “there’s no such thing as a Senior Project Manager here” – but that was the title in my offer letter, because that’s what we’d negotiated in order to justify a higher salary than the other PMs were making.
      In another job my title changed after the 3-month check-in, because I was doing the work of the other position and I asked for the salary and title to go with it. Sometimes companies are slow to inform everybody of these changes, or even hesitant to do so to avoid ruffling feathers.

  32. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    Teen Job

    Babysitting or elderly care would be easy jobs to get via local FB or Nextdoor groups.

    The only other thing I can think of for more traditional but short term work would be Amazon warehouse? I think some nomadic folks work there in different locations.

    1. Dahlia*

      Would you really hire a 16 year old off Facebook who would only be in your town for 2 days to watch your kid or your grandma?

    2. DataSci*

      As a parent, I’d never hire a sitter who none of my friends or neighbors could vouch for. Random teen in town for a few days? No thanks.

  33. Beth*

    If your focus is on building some experience, consider signing up to do some volunteer work. Non-profit orgs need various kinds of support. Perhaps you could try for some that are more national (like Habitat for Humanity) where you might be able to do some work at one and then reach out to another office of the same in future stops to build a longer-term track record of volunteering at a particular organization. If you really click with the staff of one, you might find they have some remote opportunities for you to do some online work remotely for them as well.

    1. Funny*

      Or better yet, I’m sure many nonprofits have strong virtual programs for volunteers – particularly for calling potential donors. Likewise political campaigns.

  34. Fiorinda*

    LW1, have you considered setting yourself up as an online tutor for high school students? If you have decent, regular internet access and a quiet space to work in wherever you travel, and a way to advertise where people will see it, you could develop a small client list that will both bring you in some income and give you something to put on a CV and some referees to call on (in this case, the parents of your students). Then when you get to uni you’ll not only have some work experience, you’ll have a job you can take with you and keep doing where you are.

  35. Another Sara*

    As someone who camps almost all summer with my family at campgrounds, I would pay top dollar for someone who wanted to babysit for a few hours so my husband and I could enjoy quiet drinks around the campfire or even a dinner offsite. I know that’s not the type of job you’re thinking, but I’m sure your services would be in high demand at a lot of campgrounds and make you some money.

    1. Funny*

      +1, and rather than just thinking of it as one-off babysitting, she should create a company name and treat it as a small business/self-employment

  36. Jennzilla*

    Number three reminds me of the time we discovered an entry level guy gave himself the title of ‘Vice President of Business Culture’. He was long gone by that point so I made myself VP of Memes.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      For a long time, it was a running joke that someone had put her title as “Temporary Genius” on the staff directory here. It’s gone now but was there for ages, probably long after she’d left.

  37. Lacey*

    OP3: Easy solution, just the people at the same level as you & your new coworker and you all inflate your title. Either someone will make everyone change it back or you just snagged yourselves an easy promotion!

    Or just sit back and keep an eye on this coworker for other wild behavior, because – I promise – more is coming.

    1. EPLawyer*

      The part about sit back and watch for more bizarre behavior is spot on. LW you already alerted your boss about it. Your part is done. But if some other behavior by this person impacts your work, raise that too.

  38. ProcessMeister*

    I can offer some insight for LW3.
    At my work, my department’s job descriptions are organised through our own HR. Formal letters of offer and general policy documents come from our business-wide HR. Org charts are handled by the relevant teams if at all. Payslips and salaries are handled by Payroll. And digital profiles (inc. email signatures, to a degree) are controlled by IT. At several times, my job description, my job title, the job title in my email signature and the job title on my payslip were all different. Trying to figure out who to contact to get any one part updated was just a waste of time.

  39. Rosemary*

    LW1: What about transcription work? I have NO idea if transcription companies has specific requirements around age, experience, etc., but that is definitely something you can do remotely (although not having reliable internet could be problematic if you need to send a file and can’t). My company works with a small outfit – run by one person who then farms the requests out to a hodgepodge of people.

  40. Tobias Funke*

    OP1, you are doing great and it is a shame adults are using your letter to projectile vomit their own biases.

    You do not need a job right now. You are building a lot of skills young people in now traditional situations are not. They might have experiences you don’t have – but you’ve also got experiences they don’t have. There is a vast stay of jobs available on college campuses and any of them will be thrilled to have someone with your skills and experiences. You do not need to become a freelancer or move away from your parents. You’re smart, motivated, able to articulate your thoughts really well – you’re doing great.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree in the most part, but the OP did ask for advice about what sort of jobs they could possibly get, so I don’t think it’s hugely off-base for people to throw ideas around about that.

      I do completely agree that there’s no need to get a job if the OP doesn’t want to, or if it’ll prove too problematic – there’s enough time for that once they go to college and for the rest of their working life. I’d suggest enjoying their freedom while they can. But I also understand the OP’s reasoning behind wanting to get a job, and I think we should respect that.

    2. Anonymous 75*

      seriously! The kid wrote in for advice on how to get a job and people are spiralling with some pretty dramatic speculation. Nothing in the letter indicates they are unhappy, isolated or in distress, they’re just trying to plan ahead.

    3. MassMatt*

      It’s pretty odd to dismiss the LW, who wrote in about how to get job experience, and the bulk of the comments, which have mostly proceeded to do just that, as projectile vomit.

  41. Pierrot*

    LW2– I definitely agree that you should NOT apply for the job that you helped your client apply for. I am glad that you wrote in for advice about this before doing anything, because it sounds like you knew on some level that it would be wrong to compete with S for the job.

    But yeah, it’s a major conflict of interest and I agree with Allison that it would look strange to the company. Your current job is to help applicants with disabilities find work, so if I was the potential employer, I would think that it shows poor judgment and that the candidate lets their personal goals interfere with how they do their job. Thinking through what would happen if you actually applied, got the offer, and took the job, S would rightfully be upset and I think that your current employer would be as well.

    I am not trying to be overly judgmental of the LW— as I said, I am glad they wrote in and had the impulse that this was an issue. Just in the future, make sure you keep a firm boundary between your work with clients and yourself.

  42. Narise*

    LW1 I would start your own business. If you can drive maybe you can run errands for people nearby; dog walking would be a good thing to offer; car washing/detailing. If you are crafty look to make something and sell on Etsy. Are you good with computers? Can you offer anything to people online? My BIL taught my nephew to code and then would find online jobs and have my nephew do it but he would review and validate the work prior to submitting. It was great experience. Not sure if your parents have skills they can teach you.

    I would also look at temp places and see if they have any jobs for a 16 year old. These temp jobs are great if you need quick cash but can’t commit to a long term job. Also look at catering companies or event centers. Sometimes they need servers or dishwashers for an event vs. permanently.

  43. Alex*

    I second the summer camp idea, but another one is to get a job at a local fair for a week. Research what county/state fairs are going on, and see if you can convince your parents to be near one for the duration. This was my first job! (Even though I didn’t live in a camper). I just went by while the booths were setting up and asked if anyone needed employees. I sold ice cream.

  44. LK*

    I agree that it would be a bad move for LW2 to apply for the job, but it does make me wonder how it would work if someone in that sort of role ever needed to job hunt in earnest. It seems like there would be a lot more ethical considerations for which jobs they could apply for, but that could put them in the position of having very limited (or no) options themselves. Could they only apply for jobs that no clients of the agency were in the running for? Or if they found an opportunity and didn’t disclose it to give clients first dibs, that could look dubious as well. Are they under more obligation to disclose their own job hunt to avoid conflicts of interest? Is the only ethical solution to leave this job before applying elsewhere? (These are genuine questions, not rhetorical – I really don’t know how to untangle the ethical threads here.)

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I’m kind of surprised that this kind of thing wasn’t covered when they were onboarded. I’m sure it comes up now and then.

    2. Bibliothecarial*

      In the agency I worked for, job developers weren’t trying to place everyone at every job – it was a lot more tailored. You might have 15 people on your case load, 8 of whom are looking for something entry-level like stocking, 1 who wants to work in video games and can’t work days, 3 who would be great as admin assistants, etc. It was usually specific enough that a JD wouldn’t remotely be competing with their clients if the JD chose to look elsewhere. Good thing too, because that would be perceived as *very* unethical.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      From my experience of using such services (once, the one I used wasn’t great) there’s generally a wide range of jobs being applied for so the likelihood of one coming along that is perfect for both the client and staff is remote. Basically though if you work for those services and are job hunting you discount any job that is on the system.

      So you can apply for anything that hasn’t been advertised via the service. That’s still a very wide range.

    4. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      “Could they only apply for jobs that no clients of the agency were in the running for?”
      I don’t think the problem is that A client of the agency was applying to the job its that it is OP’s client. If S wasn’t their client I don’t think that would be a problem, Heck the others at the agency probably don’t know what jobs all the clients have applied for, only their own clients.

      I think the problem is also that the OP would have to talk to the company on behalf of S (if I understand correctly). THAT is going to be really odd if they are also an applicant. Kind of like if you are applying for an internal role at your company you shouldn’t be on the interview pannel.

  45. Environmental Compliance*

    #5 – I had something similar happen, but it was because the company was posting as a confidential employer and managed to post the (apparently) same position under two different titles with two different descriptions (albeit similar). I assumed they were not the same place for obvious reasons. Both were through recruiters. Recruiter 2 moved faster, and I didn’t realize that it was the same job until after an interview and add’l paperwork had been sent to me. I felt bad, and Recruiter 1 (who took a really long time to get anything set up) was a bit peeved with me, but how in the world would I have known?

    1. MassMatt*

      That’s the employer’s fault, and a little bit the fault of recruiter #1. If you post similar jobs for secret companies with different descriptions and recruiters then you should EXPECT to get duplicate applications.

      Simple solution—don’t post jobs anonymously, and don’t use multiple recruiters and job descriptions for the same job.

    2. ferrina*

      I had something similar happen. I think one was through the company and one was through a recruiter? But both postings had different company names (i.e., one was Dewey, Chetum & Howe, and the other was listed as DCH Enterprises). I only realized it halfway through the interview process. Never learned which application got me through.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      I ran into this during my recent job search too. Recruiting websites often don’t list the name of the company, because they want you to apply through them so they’ll get the commission. But the result of that is that I accidentally applied to the same job with three separate recruiters.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        This was all through LinkedIn (recruiters messaged me, I wasn’t even searching for anything), and the recruiters were not attached to the company.

        There was really no reason tbh that the postings were “confidential” – the company had it direct on their website, which is when I realized the duplication.

    4. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

      Yeah — they can’t expect you to apply for jobs serially. Or cross check with the recruiter if another job is secretly the same. Or be psychic.

      Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. (the job posts)

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Yeah, it was a little frustrating with Recruiter 1. Their response came down to “you didn’t say you had applied to that!!” Well, duh, I didn’t reach out to you, you reached out to me, chances are the positions I’d be interested in are pretty darn similar between companies.

  46. She of Many Hats*

    LW 1 – Your family is nomadic so do you have campgrounds or cities your family stays at or travels to on a semi-regular basis? If so, you could set up services such as pet-walking, baby-sitting for fellow nomads by posting on the local FB pages or chat boards when you’re arriving. If you use commercial RV campgrounds, get to know the managers/owners to see what work you can do there while staying. It won’t be a consistent job but it will be freelancing and you will be building your networking skills, marketing skills, and soft/people skills.

    1. Funny*

      Completely agree with this, and a good strategy would be to visit those pages and post offering services a week or two BEFORE arriving, to get services lined up while you are there.

  47. DivergentStitches*

    Somewhat related to #3 – I recently started a job and all of the interviews, emails from the recruiter, job posting, etc. all said “Teapot Spout Specialist” which was a job title I wanted and have aimed for for many years, yet my offer letter says my job title is “Teapot Maker” which is a more generic title that is a broad umbrella that my real job works as a subset. I joined the newly created team with 3 other new hires, and there are 3 tenured employees on the team. The tenured employees use “Teapot Spout Specialist” on their email signatures, so I’m doing the same.

    I’ll ask my supervisor about it at some point but didn’t want to rock the boat.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      The best time to query that would have been when you received the offer letter. (I know this is like recommending a time machine — but in case anyone else is reading later…)

  48. lb*

    Lw#1 – are there ever other families with small kids at the places you stay? Babysitting is one thing that springs to mind as a source of income. (Also while I completely understand your motivation, I would bet that your lifestyle has prepared you for living on your own in a way a lot of other college students haven’t gotten!)

  49. lb*

    Alison, would it be okay to for LW 2 to apply if she finds out that S is out of the running for the job?

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I would still say no, but more because of the *appearance* of impropriety than the actual thing. It opens LW and the employer up to scrutiny–did LW tank S’s process in the hopes of applying next week? Did the employer pass on S due to their disabilities but hire LW?

      I do not think LW would behave so, based on their follow-ups in the comments, but the optics would be bad. S would feel bitter about it, and the agency LW works for might have strong opinions about it.

    2. Orsoneko*

      I’d argue that the conflict of interest (whether actual or apparent) would be even more pronounced if LW2 believed she’d be in the clear to apply only if S had already applied and been turned down.

  50. Ana Gram*

    OP 1- If you’re moving so often, a tiktok of campground reviews would be really cool! I enjoy camping but there’s limited up to date info/reviews on many sites. You could even interview staff. It could be a really engaging tiktok!

    1. WheresMyPen*

      Oooh that’s a fun idea! Although it probably wouldn’t help with the immediate need to make money.

      Could LW1 stay with the grandma for the summer and try to get a job local to her house then? Another person suggested babysitting, or maybe they can ask to do odd jobs at any camp grounds they stay at?

  51. Funny*

    For LW1, it sounds like you’ll need to be self-employed, but that’s okay! You should give your business a name and present it on your resume as, e.g., “Anywhere Anytime Services Company (self-employed).” Using that business name, you can provide virtual services for people online. A few things I could think of that would be helpful to folks:
    – edit/proofread school papers and essays (you seem like a good writer!)
    – create flyers or invitations for events, either in PDF or online
    – freelance journalism – you’re having a very unique life experience, there are likely publishers who would be interested!
    – virtual job interview practice – you can look up common job interview questions online and offer to interview people via video chat so they can practice saying answers out loud
    – gift shopping – people could give you a budget/occasion/person and you could find that perfect gift

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      Thats a great idea but I think it depends on what the OP is looking for for a job. If its specific experience like working with other people, learning from a manager, and other soft skills you learn working for a company then this would not really work. However, if the OP just wants to have some experience and show work ethic I think this could work out for them. BUt they really would have to be a self starter and be organized.

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      This seems like extremely unrealistic advice. I feel for the LW’s situation, but “just start your own business” is not that easy for an adult who is not nomadic.

      And your suggestions are incredibly unrealistic. As an example: Who on this blog is going to pay a 16 year old for virtual job interview practice? Maybe as a kindness (donation) to the LW, but not as expecting any useful advice from someone who has no experience working, much less no hiring experience. Legitimate customers will feel like it’s a scam – “I paid someone for job interview practice, and it turned out to be a tennager doing it!”

      Who pays people to edit/proofread papers? College Students! Who’s not qualified to do that job, a teenager who hasn’t started college yet? And the LW seems like a good enough writer – I think she wrote a good articulate letter – but that’s not how the world works.

    3. Lucky Meas*

      Would you pay a 16 year old you don’t know to give you gift ideas? Or practice for your interview? Nobody is paying adults to do that, never mind a teen you don’t know.

  52. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

    It sounds like you stay at different campgrounds and such. Is there any way you could maybe do some babysitting for your fellow campers? (if that’s something that interests you and you are good. Are there the same people you see a lot of that you could maybe build a relationship with and babysit for them or maybe other odd jobs?

    How long does your family stay in one campground? If you stay for a few weeks could you ask the campground management if they have any odd jobs? Just make sure that you get contact information for a few folx for references.

    Another thought is there any family that you could stay with over the summer? You mentioned your grandma but that she is ill. What about any aunts or uncles or family friends that do not travel around? Would they be willing and able to allow you to live with them for the summer so you can find a job?

    Another thought is working at a summer camp for kids. I’m not sure if they allow 16-year-olds but it could be a possibility. They provide you with training, room, and board. I have a few friends who did that in high school and college but I’m not sure what age they were when they started working at the camp.

    Even if you don’t get a job it’s not the end. Plenty of people don’t work or volunteer during high school and still get into college and go on to have great careers.

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      Ohh I just thought of something else. Is there a way that you could plan with your parents when you will be in a specific area and work at a carnival or festival? During the summer there are always lots of music festivals and there are so many odd jobs that can be done. Either working with a food vendor or working for the place hosting the festival.

      From my understanding, those hiring for these types of events understand people who have a transient lifestyle and are open to working with them. You might not be able to operate any rides but you could take tickets.

  53. MMB*

    One option might be something like a camp counselor or volunteer at a campground. Your parents could drop you off for the summer or a few weeks while they continue to travel and then come back for you at the end of the season. Coolworks dot com lists a lot of positions for this type of work. The solution to your phone problem might be to buy a cheap phone with preloaded minutes and walk to the nearest area with reception once or twice a day to check for messages.

  54. 1-800-BrownCow*

    LW#1, I see a lot of great suggestions. Along with maybe helping at the campground, you mentioned making jewelry. Do you have any other similar skills? I’ve been to some campgrounds that do fun activities/classes for families and kids. Maybe see if they’d be willing to pay you to run of those classes. Or see if you could schedule something yourself and charge a small fee for the class and supplies and keep the money you make.

    Another thought, and I don’t know who to recommend, but I know people who write for websites on any subject they want. Maybe do some research and see if you could write for one of them. You could write articles about traveling the country, living out of an RV, etc. Maybe sharing tips and tricks you and your family have learned. I used to know someone who was big into camping and hiking and they would write articles with “tips and tricks” for camping and hiking for some website.

    If you end up finding some way to start making some money, please update us!

  55. Parenthesis Guy*

    “Now that I know that I lost any possible compensation leverage with the recruiter, I have since re-applied, since the client can land me without worrying about paying the commission.”

    LW4: This confuses me. I don’t think there is any compensation leverage for going with a recruiter. Fine, I suppose if the job pays $75000-$82000, and you ask for $60k, then having a recruiter on your side helps to tell you that you’re asking for too little. But otherwise, I’d more likely to pay the person that directly applies more since I’m not paying a commission.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I think they meant the recruiter would not get compensated for getting them the job, so there’s no impetus for the recruiter to be helpful.

  56. RVCatMom*

    LW1 – Hello fellow road warrior nomad! My recommendation to you is to really look into the community. There are a LOT of us who have our own businesses (remote) or would know more about what opportunities would be available. Join forums, Facebook groups, Reddit groups….. we take care of each other, and we would understand better than most what kind of accommodations you’ll need. Im not sure if is hiring, but they might like an intern! Best of luck. <3

  57. AcadLibrarian*

    For LW1, I wouldn’t worry. When you get to college, look for a campus job and I’ll put in a plug for the campus library. As a college librarian, we hire many students without experience and we take it seriously that we’re there to help them navigate their first jobs and learn the “norms” around jobs and working in offices.

  58. Parenthesis Guy*

    It sounds like LW is looking for a job not to make a lot of money, but so that they know what it’s like before they get to college when they’ll need one to live. I mean, they’re looking for minimum wage. Getting used to college life will be stressful enough without having to get used to working also. I can see how babysitting might not be what interests them because it will be hard to do that living on a college campus with no adult connections.

  59. JK*

    LW3 reminds me of a lady I used to work with. She was the executive assistant to the Executive Director of the company, but Very Clearly felt this was beneath her. She had, as she would tell anyone who would listen, been Very Important at her last job.

    I was regularly in meetings with her, where everyone else gave their name and title, and she would just say her name, talk about how important she had been in her last job, then make some vague comments about projects she helped on in her current role.

    She refused to put a title in her email signature, and had business cards made for herself with just her name and the company.

    I left several years ago, but recently looked on the website. She is still there, and somehow now uses a “Director” title.

    Fake it till you make it, I guess?

  60. T.N.H.*

    LW1, do you like to work with kids? I have 2 ideas. The first is babysitting through an agency. There are some specifically geared toward teens and they connect you with the family. You would have to update your location a lot but some are national so you might be able to find work in different cities for the day.

    The other idea is peer tutoring, which is often volunteer but sometimes paid as part of a program. It happens online now much of the time. You would pick a subject that you’re really strong in (like writing) and help younger kids with it. The idea is that a middle schooler will listen to you in a different way than they would their parents or teacher.

  61. BellyButton*

    This may not earn money, and I don’t know if money is your goal– but I would love to read a travel/van life blog from someone so young who didn’t choose that life. I think a link to that would be way more interesting on a college application than a job at a fast food place.

  62. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Fiverr and other sites that connect people for small jobs online will allow you to join under 18 if you use a parent’s account. Those services might work.

    Other campground-based jobs could be helping people with basic technology.

    You can do a CompTIA or other cert (A+/N+) to hone your skills in that area. Study online for those (if you have a public library card anywhere, see if they have Linked-In Learning for access to studying for all kinds of tech skills, including CompTIA materials). And then find a local testing center when you are on the road to take the actual exam. That would position you to do some tech support-type work and will help with college too!

    But I agree with Alison that a job is not a requirement of any kind and I would argue that your travel experience and homeschooling are experience enough for things like college applications and entry-level jobs. Not for making money, I know!

    I wish you the best!
    (former homeschooling parent)

  63. WellThatsTheThingJanet*

    Similar to LW3, I had a co-worker who kept referring to herself as a Lead when she was in fact an Agent. When asked about it, she explained she was given Lead duties and responsibilities (true) but had been given no formal title change because that would increase her pay (also true.) It was her way of pushing back against a system that considers doing your job description “the bare minimum” but didn’t consider misstating your title a large enough offense to do anything about it. A mild form of protest, on her part, and making sure she could claim Lead status at future jobs by showing her duties under that section.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > making sure she could claim Lead status at future jobs

      By having used the title in her email signature etc?

      That’s handy to know, as I can now qualify myself for CxO roles…

  64. Samwise*

    LW 1: Maybe look for residential volunteer or educational programs. If your family can afford to pay for something like that. I’m thinking camp counselor, but you might also look into things like Youth Conservation Corps, study /research/ service abroad programs.

    You might also see if any nonprofits would be interested in having you help with remote or very short term work.

    Especially if your family is willing to stay in one area for say a month or two. Campgrounds often have a time limit, but your family could pick a location with a number of campgrounds, or a state or national park large enough to have several campgrounds. Or if your family is willing to camp for awhile in/near a more urban area. Those may not fit your family’s vibe — they are rarely rustic — but perhaps doable a couple of times to give you and your sibs a good learning opportunity.

  65. Atlantis*

    LW1, a possible good option for you if there are any subjects you are good at is signing up to be an online tutor. That kind of thing can be done remotely, and would be a great way of getting experience if you decide you want to tutor in college. Or you could join one of those survey sites to earn some pocket money, although that’s less helpful on the resume front.

    1. HQetc*

      +1 to all the suggestions for tutoring. Most I have seen (and I just did ctrl+f so I may have missed some!) were talking about peer tutoring or tutoring other high schoolers. That might be tricky to get as a home schooler since the high school wouldn’t have a great way to assess where you are with respect to their other students who need tutoring (unless you have something like AP test results to point to). So I just wanted to throw out that there are also programs for tutoring elementary school students, some of which are remote and could probably tolerate a skipped week here and there. Those might be an easier sell than middle or high school tutoring.

  66. jj*

    For OP #1 –

    Have you considered working or interning at a summer camp? Your parents wouldn’t need to stay in one place for it to work – they just drop you off and pick you up 6-8 weeks later. This is a classic summer work right of passage, and a great way to build a resume for making a little money in college – most towns have lower level childcare work that is ideal for college students – like assistant to the main pre school teacher, or assistant in an after school program, etc.

  67. wutwhere*

    I once had a direct report who didn’t really get roman numerals and instead of calling themselves a llama herder II (two) in their signature, they called themselves a llama herder 11 (eleven).

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Ah to be a fly on the wall when they eventually want to move on from that job and are asked about their current role by recruiters etc…

      This job goes to 11!

  68. Humble Schoolmarm*

    LW 1, What an interesting situation. You did a great job of explaining your situation and limitations.
    I guess I’d encourage you to keep thinking about why you want a job. If it’s primarily “Because it’s what people my age do.” then I agree with other posters and Alison. Like with most things people say teenagers do, yes, a lot of your peers in more traditional situations have part-time jobs, but a lot don’t. You’ll find yourself at college with a lot of people who have spotty or non-existent job history.
    It sort of sounds like you might be worried about suddenly transitioning to a sedentary life and job situation once you hit college and I think that’s a valid concern. College can be a big change even for people who are used to the structure of classes and scheduling. If that’s your motivation, I second the suggestion of camp councillor. Most camps are highly structured and scheduled, but I find it’s easier to manage a schedule when you’re doing it for other people. I need to get this group of nine-year-olds into the dining hall by 9 or else they won’t get breakfast is good motivation.
    Or maybe you just want to make some money (which is a good reason too). In that case, would your parents be open to making a travel schedule that puts you in a place with decent wi-fi once or twice a week? Would they agree to dropping you off at a library on coffee place every Tuesday afternoon, for example? That might let you post a regular blog or videos, maybe even set up an appointment to do some virtual tutoring with other home-schooled kids.
    If that’s a no-go, I would say you could focus on the campground for some sort of small business. If you’re crafty, maybe you can switch to something with a better market than jewelry making. Knitted dish cloths (super easy pattern and you can get cotton yarn from the dollar store), hats or small toys might have more of a market if you sell them around the campsite rather than on etsy.

  69. mango chiffon*

    LW1, I think folks here are trying to suggest different things based on what they think you’re asking for. It’s not totally clear on if you just want job experience, or you’re looking to make some money before you’re on your own and in college. If it’s about making some cash to support yourself, I think the self employment option would work great, especially if you’re at campsites where other people are around. You could set up a tutoring gig with other homeschool students and make a deal with your parents to make sure that you have a stable internet connection on a weekly/whatever basis.

    If you’re looking for experience, then the question is more about what do you want to get out of that. Are you looking for a job to make connections with people outside of your family and outside the internet? Then you need to find something that’s longer term. A camp counselor position like others have suggested would be good. Are you looking for experiences that you can discuss with folks once you get to college? I can guarantee your nomadic lifestyle will be conversation enough, but one-day volunteer opportunities would be good to look into. Local food banks in the area you’re in could be an option.

    Think about what you’re trying to get out of the work you want to do. It could be that you could find avenues to get what you want without having a standard job, but you need to discover that for yourself

  70. stelmselms*

    LW #1 This might have already been suggested, but is living with your Grandma this summer and getting a job there an option for you?

    1. GreenDoor*

      LW #1, I came here to ask about Grandma, too. If your parents are willing to enroll you in her local public school system, you could finish high school while living with her and get a part time job. You may even find a job through school that also counts for school credit. Another alternative might be to check her state’s Department of Public Education. Many states now offer a state-wide virtual school option that you could enroll in if her local schools don’t past muster with your parents. If her health is failing or she’s aging, she might appreciate having someone living with her to help out. It could be a win-win for you both!

      1. Agent Diane*

        Coming here to echo this. If Grandma has space for you, staying with her for a season would give you a chance to experience living a non-nomadic life so you’re not learning how that feels when you go to college for the first time. It would also give you a chance to some of the remote work people are suggesting (if she has the internet) or pick up shifts. I’m not sure how the home-schooling works in the US, but maybe your parents pick it up with you when they have stopped somewhere with internet.

  71. Nancy*

    LW1: I think something like camp counselor is your best bet. You can also check out whether there are any local festivals/events coming up at any of the areas you will be traveling to and see if they need help. When I was a teen I often made extra money helping out at various craft festivals and sidewalk sales in my town. I also tutored and babysat, which may be possible short-term if you are ever staying near families with kids. I didn’t need any of these jobs before college, but it was nice to have some money that was mine, along with more independence. Remote jobs are hard to find, and any type of job that requires an internet connection is just not feasible if you don’t have reliable access.

  72. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

    LW1: since you mentioned being in mostly rural areas and specifically in areas with campgrounds, I think it might be worthwhile to look into some of the various hiking trail maintenance programs for teens. I know some of them are sleepaway and require a commitment for a significant portion of the summer, but if you were able to find one that operated in a location near where you were going to be staying for at least a week, it couldn’t hurt to explain your situation to the crew leaders and see if you could make a shorter-term commitment.

    A lot of folks have mentioned doing tiktok reviews or a youtube channel, and I think that would certainly be interesting, but another idea that might take advantage of your mostly being in rural areas could be setting up a subscription service that people could sign up for where you would send them local (shelf-stable!) products you come across in your travels, say once a month. The benefit to this would be that you wouldn’t technically have to buy anything until you received some sign-ups, and as long as you have some extra space to store the items, sporadic access to internet isn’t a problem. And if nobody signs up, well, no big deal, as long as you don’t buy anything in advance.

  73. Technically a Director*

    LW#4: Multiple recruiters submit the same candidate all the time, and the same rule should apply when you self-submit. Most large employers have a “first in wins” rule, so if the recruiter submitted your resume before you did, they should get the fee, and if you (or a different recruiter) submit it first, the employer should tell them “Sorry but this person has already been submitted.”

    Unless your local hiring culture requires exclusivity agreements with recruiters? I’ve never heard of such, but I suppose it’s possible.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      He stated he could not represent me to the hiring manager because it’s awkward

      It sounds like it’s the recruiter who shut things down, not the employer.

  74. TX_Trucker*

    #1 If your main goal is to make money, I would try asking for ideas on “World Schooling” groups; there are several on Facebook, if you aren’t already part of a digital community. But if your goal is “experience” before college, I wouldn’t worry about it. Many teenagers start college with minimal work experience.

    Where is your family parking? If you are staying at a site that is common with other home schoolers, you may be able to get babysitting or labor jobs. In my experience, home schooling families are very open to hiring other home school families.

  75. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

    LW1. Some may have covered this but are there other families at the campsite that you could babysit for or tutor?

    LW2 and maybe more of a question for Alison. Could LW2 apply if the job is reposted? Say it has been months with no call back for S (I think that was the initial), could LW2 apply then?

  76. RVMan*

    LW1 – Is Grandma in good enough health that you can live there for a summer? (Assuming she is someone you could live with, etc.) Otherwise, I agree with the summer camp/church camp recommendations. I think the key is finding somewhere you can be in one place for a few months.

    I don’t much like the odd job or babysitter at an RV Park ideas, just because of safety – you’d know better than me how safe it is to be a teenage girl going unaccompanied into or around strangers’ or distant acquaintances’ RV’s, but it doesn’t strike me as particularly so, even less so than going to their permanent houses – houses can’t drive away with you in it.

  77. MCMonkeyBean*

    Yeah, I mean it might be worth considering (if they haven’t already, which they probably have) but I’m a bit surprised to see so many people talking like that’s the obvious solution.

  78. Dawn*

    LW1: I’m very sorry to hear that your grandmother’s health is failing; that must be very hard.

    But it raises the question: is it possible that she could use someone around the house to help out? Do you have the kind of relationship with her where that’s a possibility?

    Technically, you are legally old enough to live on your own – it’s called “emancipation of minors” – but you might not even have to, if you could instead move in with Grandma and work a part-time job from her apparently stable address.

  79. RedinSC*

    wondering if LW 2 could reach out after the position closes and say something like if something like this opens again I’d be interested?

    that way she’s done what she can for her client but also plants a seed?

  80. Destra Novedieci*

    For LW1, I’m wondering if launching some kind of blog/Instagram/Tiktok about full-timer life would be a good project. That could lead to paid influencer opportunities, perhaps some affiliate partnerships. It could be a terrific way to gain experience with building a website and digital marketing while leaning into the lifestyle that is preventing her from picking up more conventional teenager work, and I wouldn’t hesitate to treat that as work experience on future resumes. The best thing about the internet is that it doesn’t matter where you are!

  81. Ms. Coffee*

    Teenager .. there is a website called CoolWorks, which includes many jobs that include housing, or have employee housing that employees can actually afford.
    I don’t know how important it is for you to stay with your parents and siblings for the summer.
    If it is important to stay with them, then yes to the suggestions you offer to help clean/ rake the camp ground, etc.

    Another job that can include housing is as an au pair.

    Much Luck! And, no no college will ever care if you did not have a long term entry level job.

  82. Debbie Bieber*

    Is there any way LW#1 can stay/live with the grandmother, continue homeschooling and try to get a job? Sounds like grandmother might need some help too.

  83. DJ*

    LW1 at least when you do go to college you can explain your lack of work experience by advising you travelled around a lot with family and focussing on school. But now you are settled in 1 location can comit to an employer and are keen to work.
    LW2 in future if you like the look of a position perhaps pause to think if you’d like to apply before flicking it to a client!

  84. Laura*

    LW2 – I’ve also encountered this issue when one of my hires changed their employee signature without anyone approving the change. I just brought it up one day saying “someone brought your email change to my attention. Was there anything that made you want to edit that?” They were apologetic and said the title was just a typo when they were copying an email signature from another coworker. I doubted this answer was 100% truthful just because I saw her original signature before it changed.

    If I had to guess why she did this, I would think she made the change because she’s in a position where she had a lot of vendor interaction and those vendors tend to treat assistants like they are incapable of being a decision maker. She was later promoted to the position above, so all ended well. Just a weird conversation to have.

  85. Core Goals*

    Was looking for a mention of Youth Conservation Corp. Also, I think you’d be a great candidate for AmeriCorps NCCC once you graduate HS. This would be a gap year experience that provides room and board giving you a strong work experience before starting college. (there are of course other gap year experiences that could be a good fit).

  86. MS*

    #LW1 – Please ignore the comments here about freelancing. It’s not a realistic suggestion until you’ve put in years building a skill and a portfolio–the freelancing/contract market is extremely saturated unless you have a very niche technical skill, which I highly doubt you possess at 16. Online, you’re competing with people who are willing to do hours of work for literal pennies an hour. Not to mention most freelancing sites are going to have age minimums of 18. It’s simply not worth spending hours applying to “gigs” to maybe make 5$.

    If you have artistic talent, you may have luck getting commissions. But first you would need to have a portfolio to work with that you can start to post and get a following online (most artist friends I know use Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr). I have acquaintances with okay but not great art skills who are able to get commissions because they sell them at $10-$25 each. It might not be great hourly pay but for many of them it was the only way to make money. You would need to be very talented to make a living at it.

    My suggestion for you would be to use Facebook for each city/town you’re visiting and find all the community/job related groups in that area. And offer services like shoveling, mowing lawns, moving boxes, pet sitting, dog walking, babysitting etc. I see teens in my area doing this all the time and locals will pay for odd jobs here and there. There’s no expectation you’ll stick around forever as each job is one and done.

  87. Imtheone*

    For No. 1, the teenager who wants a job:

    Could you live with your grandmother for the summer and work in her community? Fast food jobs and summer camp jobs (or camp volunteer jobs) are often just for the summer and wouldn’t involve a long commitment of not living with Uyghur family.

    Similarly, some residential summer camps hire teens to be camp counselors or assistants for the summer, which would solve the problem of no money, no place to live.

    Best of luck to you!

  88. Purrscilla*

    For LW #1 – if you’re interested in working with children at all, look into working at a sleep-away camp. I worked at a camp like that at the end of high school / beginning of college, and they’ll provide food and housing.

    It does mean you’d be away from your family for however long the camp session is, but it’s one way to find work that gets around the “stuck at a campsite” problem.

  89. patchy13*

    For LW#1
    What about being a camp counselor at a residential summer camp that hires as young as 16? You would be separated from your family as you would go stay at the camp for the summer/session, but that is great, independent experience at your age. And maybe you’re craving some separation, which would be totally normal developmentally and good for you if you’re ready for it/want it.

  90. Just me*

    LW1-I will also second the idea of being campground staff for summer camps. My daughter did this as a teen. She worked in the kitchen, cleaned cabins between groups, could have been a lifeguard if she had that training and sometimes got to participate in certain activities of the camp that didn’t interfere with her work schedule. The particular campground she worked at (denominational related) is also open year around for weekend or week long events. Worth checking into.

    1. Jolie*

      LW1 – back in the pandemic, I used to blog on Medium. I gave it up eventually because I already had two jobs, but with consistency I was able to monetise it to the point of about $100-$150 a month with a few hours /week time investment and it could have grown solidly further – that’s something I could definitely have seen myself doing at your age. The things I was writing about were mostly pop history, etymologies, cooking and otherwise generally fun bits of trivia expanded into explain-y articles.

      Other than that, depending on your skill, you can try the freelancing platforms such as Fiverr, such as :
      – logo design
      – social media content writing and editing
      – admin work
      -Something super niche and technical you want to learn, such as, dunno, embroidery digitizing?

      Little freelance projects are easier to come by than stable jobs.

      1. LaLa*

        Fivvr is well known in the design community as a place where bad designs originate at best, and a breeding ground for copyright infringement and labor exploitation at worst. I’d advise against it. Logo design, fyi, is not easy or simple, and requires a solid understanding of design principles, marketing analysis, and psychology. But so many people don’t realize this, they think they can just get a twenty year old to pump out something for ten bucks, and that’s why you see crappy logos everywhere.

  91. Jolie*

    LW1 – back in the pandemic, I used to blog on Medium. I gave it up eventually because I already had two jobs, but with consistency I was able to monetise it to the point of about $100-$150 a month with a few hours /week time investment and it could have grown solidly further – that’s something I could definitely have seen myself doing at your age. The things I was writing about were mostly pop history, etymologies, cooking and otherwise generally fun bits of trivia expanded into explain-y articles.

    Other than that, depending on your skill, you can try the freelancing platforms such as Fiverr, such as :
    – logo design
    – social media content writing and editing
    – admin work
    -Something super niche and technical you want to learn, such as, dunno, embroidery digitizing?

    Little freelance projects are easier to come by than stable jobs.

  92. LaLa*

    #1 – If it’s life experience you’re looking for (as opposed to income), have you considered being an exchange student? I know this is way off course from what you were asking, but I thought I’d throw it out there. I was one in high school and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. There are plenty of scholarship options out there for this sort of thing too.

    #3 – I wouldn’t worry too much about this. Asking this person to correct their signature is more of a courtesy to them, to help them not look foolish. In my experience, like yours, most people are aware of the “self-promoters” and unfortunately it can lead to gossip and raised eyebrows, and it makes them look less qualified rather than more. The one in particular in my experience wasn’t taken very seriously and when she quit, not many people noticed other than to gossip about the reason why. It was unfortunate because she wasn’t bad at her job, if she had just stuck to her actual title.

  93. Compliance Is Fun*

    Regarding letter 3, this actually backfired on one of my colleagues. He was the manager of a small department that did not have a Director, so he used the title “Director, Small Department”. Eventually the organization grew to the size where we needed a Director and hired one. The Manager had to revert back to his Manager title and it looked like a demotion. He was not happy, but totally did it to himself.

  94. Good luck*

    LW 1 – I wonder if you could research local small businesses in towns before you arrive. Contact them and ask if they have any administrative tasks you could do for a few weeks at their offices while you are stationed. Early in my working career we would often get HS aged kids who would stay for a few weeks simply filing or doing easy data entry. They got a brief taste of office life and helped us out with menial tasks no one wanted to do.
    You may also want to consider looking to see if the cities you will be in have any local Facebook pages, join and put you are looking for the above (if you are interested) or looking for any type of temporary work!

  95. Jascha*

    LW1: If your main priority is getting experience (both for your CV and for your own life development), have you considered virtual volunteering? It’s true that it can be hard to get a remote job as your first one, but there are lots of volunteer opportunities that you can do online and they tend to be a little more flexible in their requirements because they’re not paid work. Also, most volunteers are part-time and have other things going on in their lives, so they are often also quite flexible in time requirements – which may mean that you simply don’t volunteer at the times you know you’re likely to be without a connection. (You could even explain your situation ahead of time when volunteering so they know that you may be periodically unreachable and may not be able to give much warning.)

  96. BioBrains*

    For LW1, since you are home schooled, can you talk to your parents about scheduling a couple of breaks or summer holiday?

    Then perhaps you can join a project such as those offered by or any other opportunity where you would get foot and lodging for a couple of weeks? That would put you into a fixed place for a bit and it would give you some experience.

    As other commenters said I don’t think it’s required for college, but I do think it’s great that you show this initiative and want to get out there. Good luck!

  97. KWu*

    OP #1, if you’re an organized person, one avenue might be to see if any of your parents’ coworkers or other people they can introduce you to have need for a virtual assistant. I’m working with a 15yo on spring break right now for some random computer-based research tasks and errands that aren’t that complex, but I don’t have the time to do them myself just yet. Things like, filling out passport applications with most of the info needed for my kids then sending to me as a PDF, researching where and for how much I should sell some expensive baby gear, comparing estimates that different contractors sent to me, etc. There are platforms for this but I wanted someone I had more of a connection with to know I wasn’t being scammed.

    Another avenue would be to look for volunteering experiences. Those may not require as much previous experience or training.

  98. Raida*

    1. How can a teenager get a job when our family travels full-time?

    You need an entirely digital job. Depending on your skills, without qualifications you’re looking at design, proofreading, editing, spreadsheets, smaller website creation, Virtual Assistant.
    That last one might be the easiest path – get in contact with some VA companies, explain your needs and wants and skills, ask if they’d be willing to put you on as a trainee IE lower pay while learning. A lot of VA tasks are just organisational and don’t require qualifications so it’s a low barrier to entry.
    Plus, plenty of them were created out of a desire to have the ability to work from home, work part time so you’d hope for a greater level of empathy with your limitations.

  99. Raida*

    2. Can I apply to a job when my current job is helping someone else try to get that same job?

    You can talk to the employer and tell them you certainly will not be competing with your client for this role, but you’d like to express an interest in the field and their business for future roles

  100. Ex-prof*

    LW #1, if you still have that jewelry you made, try posting it on eBay. It’s much easier for a beginner to make sales on eBay than on Etsy.

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