Five quick tips on how to prepare your teen to shine from the pros at Schlitterbahn

Summer jobs can be great for more than a paycheck. A teen with a summer job learns responsibility, develops independence, and gains experience that will set them on a course to achieve their dreams.

At Schlitterbahn, a large percentage of our staff have never worked outside the home before – but that doesn’t mean teens are without key skills. These skills (most often taught by parents) make the difference between a successful first job and a disastrous first job.

Park guests purchase items from retail cashier.

Park guests purchase items from a retail cashier.

Here are five tips from our team on how best to prepare your teen for their first summer job:

  1. Showing Up. It’s like Woody Allen said – 90% of success is showing up. But in a waterpark, showing up means more than getting to your job on time. “We’re looking for teens who understand they need to bring the best of themselves to work, who will engage our guests and make every interaction a positive one,” said Sarah Haag, Staff Services Manager for Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.  Get teens in the habit of being both on time and ready to help at home and in school.
  2. Neat Appearance. Not every summer job forbids all piercings or tattoos (we allow some at Schlitterbahn), but make sure your teen targets employers with a culture that matches their own style. That said, a neat, well-kept appearance matters, no matter the length of hair or number of piercings. Help your teen identify options (clear studs, for example) that will allow them their own style without taking them out of the running for coveted jobs.
  3. Be Reachable. Summer jobs are often about last minute changes in shifts. “When someone gets sick, or we get a new catering event, we often have to staff up quickly,” said Denise McPartland, Resort Manager for Schlitterbahn in South Padre Island. “Believe me, we notice the kids who respond quickly, even if the answer is no. We know we can reach out to them again in the future.” Make sure your teen has a mobile phone or some way of being reached, generally by text. Then help them understand the importance of responding to text requests and phone calls. Nothing is worse than an employee who “ghosts” their employer (ghosting is when someone ignores texts or calls even though they have clearly seen them).
  4. Personality Over Skills. Everyone likes to have experience to bring to a workplace, but employers who hire young workers are looking for one key thing: personality. “I’m always looking for great personalities that will deliver that great guest experience,” said Doug White, Director of Operations for Schlitterbahn in Galveston. “I can teach tasks, but I can’t change someone’s personality.” Your teen may have a wonderful personality but may not let it shine. Teens who gain experience through volunteering or working in groups tend to be more comfortable showing the engaging side of their personality. That doesn’t mean that teens who are shy, shouldn’t apply. Often having a very real reason to speak up and help guests can be the impetus for shy teens to break out of their comfort zone.
  5. Handling Mistakes. Teens are going to make mistakes on the job. It’s expected. How they handle those mistakes is what gets noticed by managers. “Showing a willingness to learn from every experience is incredibly valuable,” said Darren Hill, General Manager of Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. “We are looking for kids who will say ‘I made a mistake, how do I fix it and make it better next time?’” Encourage your teen by going through scenarios that will make them more comfortable handling challenging situations and give them the tools they need to get through them.

Schlitterbahn is currently accepting applications for all summer jobs, for anyone interested please apply at