If you live with social anxiety, you likely spend a lot of time worrying about others passing negative judgment on the things you do and say. Thanks to these fears, you might regularly go out of your way to avoid situations where you think you’ll embarrass yourself or face rejection.
Yet this avoidance can leave you with a dilemma when you need to fund a new hobby, your first car, a wardrobe update, or anything else. Getting yourself to school each day can be challenging enough. Applying for jobs might seem like nothing more than a way to invite rejection. And what if you land one that involves a lot of social interaction?
It’s worth considering, though, that treatment for social anxiety often involves some type of exposure therapy. Exposure helps you work to gradually feel more comfortable with the source of your anxiety, so a part-time job can be a helpful step in this process.
A job provides the chance to confront self-consciousness and fears of criticism, humiliation, and rejection. But it also offers other benefits:
- a paycheck
- valuable experience for future jobs
- the opportunity to make a few new friends
The limited pool of jobs available to teenagers might complicate matters, but we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find 10 options for part-time employment that might be a good fit for people with social anxiety.
You can work at a restaurant without seating customers or waiting tables. Most restaurants also hire dedicated kitchen workers or back-of-house staff to clear and wash dishes and help prepare food. With these jobs, you’ll mostly just stay in the kitchen, though you’ll probably also help with cleanup after closing time.
Food prep, dish washing, and table busing jobs do involve some interaction with your co-workers, of course, but you typically won’t need to handle customer requests (or complaints). Just be sure to check the job description before applying to find out exactly what the position involves. Keep in mind that you’ll also need a food handler’s card to work in a restaurant.
When you think of retail jobs, cashier or sales associate positions probably come to mind first. Since these forward-facing jobs involve plenty of customer service interaction, you might decide to steer clear of retail positions entirely. But grocery and department stores need plenty of workers to keep things moving smoothly behind the scenes, too.
As a stocker (or receiving associate, depending on the company you work for), you’ll tag and arrange products, get merchandise ready for sale, and help display new items on the sales floor. Other duties might include doing an inventory of products and helping keep the store clean. You’ll work with co-workers on some tasks, but others you’ll handle independently.
Some stocking positions may prefer a high school diploma or require you to be at least 18 years old. You’ll also typically need to be able to lift and move 25 pounds.
Don’t mind a little dirty work? Maybe you pride yourself on your ability to scrub surfaces around your house until they sparkle. Why not consider a job where you can get paid for those skills?
Many cleaning and laundry services hire teenagers, though some companies might require you to be at least 18 years old. Certain hotels and offices hire their own cleaning staff, too, so you can sometimes find a job that way. Often, cleaning work takes place outside normal business hours, and you can usually listen to music or audiobooks while you work.
Specific duties will depend on where you work, but you’ll generally do things like:
- sweep, mop, and vacuum
- empty trash cans
- wash windows
- clean bathrooms
- collect and wash towels or linens
You’ll need to be comfortable on your feet since cleaning involves very little downtime. Cleaning jobs also require bending, reaching, and some lifting, though this can vary depending on the type of work you’re responsible for.
You don’t need to be a straight-A student to be a tutor, though having excellent grades can certainly help. Maybe you excel in one or two subjects, like math or English. Perhaps when you’re doing schoolwork, you feel confident in your skills and far less anxious than usual. Putting your knowledge to work as a tutor, then, could help boost social confidence while also earning you a paycheck.
Some kids have a hard time learning in a distracting classroom or may have trouble grasping new concepts from a teacher’s brief explanation. As a tutor, you’ll offer support one-on-one or in small groups, going over specific terms and concepts and helping with homework or skills practice.
Many tutoring companies require you to be at least 18, but some do hire teenagers, as long as you’re old enough to work and have the necessary skills. You might even be able to find online tutoring jobs, which can solve the problem of transportation. Advertising your services at school and around your neighborhood can also work well, especially if you don’t necessarily need regular employment.
If you feel calmer around animals than you do people, working with pets as a kennel assistant or attendant may be an ideal fit. Kennel assistants typically work at veterinary clinics, boarding kennels, or animal shelters, doing things like:
- cleaning cages
- refilling food and water dishes
- helping bathe pets
- walking and playing with pets
Plus, working at a kennel or shelter can offer great hands-on experience for a future career as a vet or pet groomer. Just keep in mind you’ll work with a wide variety of animals, some more friendly than others. You’ll want to make sure you feel comfortable enough to stay calm around large dogs and frightened cats.
While you won’t need any special certifications for an entry-level kennel position, some clinics and shelters will ask that you have at least a year of experience working with animals (volunteering counts!) or a high school diploma. You’ll also need to be able to lift and move between 30 and 40 pounds in most cases.
Grooming jobs might also fall under the umbrella of “kennel technician,” but these positions don’t always involve the same duties and responsibilities.
As a grooming assistant, you’ll mostly help bathe dogs (perhaps the occasional cat) and dry and brush them afterward. You’ll also help soothe and distract anxious pets during the grooming process and clean up any accidents they leave behind. Assistants usually won’t interact with clients much, but you might need to answer the phone or greet someone on occasion.
It goes without saying that a love for dogs of all sizes is an absolute must. You’ll also need to be able to lift around 30 pounds or so. Some grooming assistant positions require a high school diploma or previous experience working with animals, but plenty of groomers are willing to train someone who’s eager to learn.
As a library page, you’ll spend most of your time working independently in the library stacks, shelving books, and shelf reading to help keep books and other materials where they belong. Other responsibilities might include checking books in, helping librarians prepare for story time and other events, and repairing damaged materials.
Working as a page might be a great fit if you’re looking for a quiet job where you don’t have to spend much time talking. You might answer an occasional question or two from library patrons, but you’ll usually just direct them to the librarian’s desk. This job does require bending and reaching, plus the ability to push library carts.
Love taking care of young children? Have plenty of babysitting experience? Many daycare centers, including those at gyms and churches, hire teenagers to provide supportive care. This generally involves things like playing with kids, handing out snacks, and helping keep the facility clean. Depending on the age of the children you work with, you may also need to help change diapers.
Child care jobs may involve some interaction with parents, but often staff members with more training and experience will speak to parents as needed and handle the business-related side of things.
Most child care facilities will require first aid and CPR certification, proof of immunization, and previous experience working with children. Others may require a background check. You’ll also need to be comfortable lifting small children and spending time on your feet.
As a warehouse worker, you’ll probably spend most of your time on the job working independently, doing things like sorting and packing boxes, moving product, and performing quality control. That said, job duties can vary pretty widely depending on the warehouse you’re working in, so it always helps to read the job description carefully.
Although warehouse jobs do generally require hard work, they come with other benefits. For one, they have plenty of different shifts, which can make it easier to fit part-time work into your schedule. They also tend to pay fairly well, and you’ll be busy enough that your shift will probably fly by. Plus, you’ll learn plenty of skills that might serve you well during future job searches.
OK, so this isn’t actually a job — it’s a reminder that social anxiety doesn’t have to hold you back.
It’s completely natural to feel nervous about starting your first job, and certainly, social anxiety can amplify your worries. Still, most jobs do require at least a little person-to-person interaction, so it never hurts to find a friend who’s also looking for work and apply for jobs together. (Yes, it’s perfectly normal to look for summer or after-school jobs with friends, in case you were wondering.)
Having the support of someone you trust can make it easier to get comfortable interacting with new people in a new environment. It can also make a big difference to know that someone nearby understands how you really feel in social situations, instead of just assuming you’re shy.
As you search for the perfect part-time job, keep in mind that avoiding interaction won’t always be possible. Avoidance also won’t do much to improve self-consciousness or ease fears of criticism and judgment. Professional support from a therapist is usually the best way to address feelings of social anxiety.
In therapy, you can:
- share your feelings and any specific triggers
- explore ways to cope with symptoms of anxiety in the moment
- practice skills to navigate social settings more easily
A therapist can also offer recommendations for support groups, helpful lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments.
Crystal Raypole writes for Healthline and Psych Central. Her fields of interest include Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health, along with books, books, and more books. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. She lives in Washington with her son and a lovably recalcitrant cat.