Career Opportunities for Teens & Young Adults

Parent Q&A

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  • This is cross-posted in the "Parents of Teens" and the "Products and Services". Have you have trouble getting paid by RefPay?  (the online payment system for teens to get paid for referee'ing at a soccer game).  I lost the piece of paper where I wrote down the account login and password then, I tried to retrieve my password to access my son's account.  First, the online account does not recognize the responses to the security question so I cannot reset my password. (I have tried many possibilities for the security question response.)  Calling the staff they told me they need me to send in a copy of my son's passport to confirm his and my identify (not just the photo but ID number). Instead, I offered to send in my drivers license, since I am the one that set up the account and it's my social security number on the account, but I used my son's email address when I set up the account, thinking he is going to take over the process once it gets ironed out. They would not accept that. Then they wanted me to tell them my ss# over the phone. I didn't do that. Then I offered to drive to the nearest police station with my passsport, my son's passport and birth certificate, and the police could verify my identify. No response except to reset a password with "ArbiterSports".  Apparently, a Refpay account is ultimately an account with the organization called "ArbiterSports"  which is apparently in charge of "ArbiterPay."   I have received password resets from ArbiterSports but not ArbiterPay....  and resetting with ArbiterSports and logging into ArbiterSports does not gain access to my son's ArbiterPay account. I am baffled about how to access my son's account. If you have any tips to share I would be very grateful! Needless to say I carefully track any login/passwords now! 

    My son has not had any problems getting paid as a ref. ArbiterPay is the banking/payroll arm of ArbiterSports, so it makes sense that it would have tighter security restrictions. You must have already given them your SS# when setting up the account, so I don't quite understand why you won't give them your SS# by phone to confirm your identity. You called them, so you know you're speaking with the legitimate organization. And the request for a SS# when talking with any financial institution by phone to confirm identity is pretty standard -- esp. given that you've forgotten both your password and security answer.

  • How to Find Vocational Opportunities

    (4 replies)

    My son is entering into his Senior year at BHS.  He doesn't enjoy school and has decided to work before he considers if he wants to go to college.  Does anyone have recommendations for how to research vocational training programs in the East Bay?  Even a counselor who can meet with him and identify opportunities and programs that he may be interested in?  Thanks for any input.


    Hi Alice - I recommend talking to the folks at Ka-Lo Academy. Their specialty is working with teens who learn best outside of traditional high school, and that includes helping youth find jobs that are a good fit for them.  Best of luck! 

    Laney College has an extensive and well-regarded vocational program.

    The College Career Center at Berkeley High really is a career center.  Last year they had presentations from programs that are career oriented.  There were representatives from programs such as Rising Sun (6 months to learn to install solar panels) and the Bread Project (3 week commercial baking) both free as well as at least 20 others (some free, some not.)

    Hi Alice,

    For many of us, high school can kill any interest in academics, but community college has a lot of options even if academic goals are not of interest. 

    I was just such a teen - and I was helped because a school counselor let me know I could take community college classes during high school to earn school credit. What helped me was to learn that community college had a very different atmosphere than high school - plus I met people from all walks of life in my classes and I found them inspiring. Vocational options are also abundant. After graduation I attended community college and met high school students who were taking community college courses to get college credit early. This was such a huge boost for me and got me far more interested in academic options than I would have considered otherwise. Community College had a big impact on my life!  

    As a new teen librarian at Berkeley Public Library, I believe so strongly in the benefits of Community College that I am having Rebecca LaCocque from the Peralta Colleges coming to talk at Berkeley Public Library North Branch about What Community College Can Do For You. The event is Saturday, August 27th, 3pm. 1170 The Alameda, Berkeley. Free and open to adults and teens. She will talk about how middle school and high school students can attend Community College courses for free, how Community College can help you with your first two years of college, and also vocational options through community college. 

    If you have any questions about my experience or this event, feel free to email me at kmandalay [at]

Parent Reviews

My son was not so into college and likes outdoor physical work. He went to the outdoor recreation leadership program at Feather River College a community college in Quincy, CA, for a year but after various adventures and then working for a couple different contractors for a few months (these were "no experience necessary" jobs he found on Craigslist), he completed a free 15 week San Francisco city program that prepares SF residents for paid, UNION building trades apprenticeships. He got a job immediately and has great benefits, and with overtime he's relatively well paid even as a first year apprentice. Of course he's laid off at the moment, but he'll have work again when construction is back on assuming the economy doesn't completely collapse. I'm not sure if Berkeley or Alameda County have similar programs - check with local community colleges.

He may be interested in becoming a backflow assembly tester. Backflow assemblies are devices used to protect the drinking water from being contaminated when there is a connection to something like a boiler or irrigation system that uses chemicals. These devices are everywhere and they are required to be tested annually by certified testers. Here's a video of what a tester does. And here's a pretty simple explanation of what backflow is and why it's important.

To get certified he would need to take a 40 hour class and then a written and hands on test. Once certified he can work for a company or agency (and there are usually plenty of vacant positions) where they go around and test the devices to make sure they are working. Most of the companies provide some mentorship so that new people aren't suddenly out on their own. Usually the person does need a driver's license.

The most local company that offers the certification class is in Sunnyvale: There is also one that offers classes in Santa Rosa and Morgan Hill:; and the American Water Works Association offers the class in Sacramento.

If you think he may be interested in this feel free to message me and I would be happy to talk to him more.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Recent college grad wants to work for the State Department

April 2014

My daughter will be graduating in June from UC Davis with a double major and double minor. She is majoring in History and International Relations and minoring in Human Rights and Professional Writing. She had applied for a Masters in Public Policy and may not be able to go forward due to finances.

What should she do now? She is kind of at a loss because the job market out there is so bleak. Her goal was to ultimately work for the State Department. Any advice helpful, as I want to support her in any way possible. Proud Mama

Maybe you could suggest to her to work in a congressional office, either local office or work her way up into DC office, as a way to bridge her interests and be employed if she can't afford grad school yet? anon

Who says your daughter needs a Master's to take the Foreign Sevice exam anyway? She should sign up and take it ASAP. The FS takes people with all sorts of skills, and may even pay for a year of grad school if it's job related. Right now the FS baby boomers are retiring, and new hires are getting on the fast track.

It may take a year or two for her to be interviewed and hired. But if she can get any job with the federal government-- say, EPA or Soc Sec-- even a nonprofessional job-- her years waiting will count as years of service, which is good for pay, promotion, and pension.

Alternatively, she could try to work for an NGO or sign up for the Peace Corps, or get a job that uses her languages. All would be good relevant experience. Just my two cents. Good luck!

Daughter offered a job with Teach for America

April 2012

My daughter who will graduate from UC Berkeley next month has been offered a position with Teach for America in New Mexico. Has anyone had any experience with this organization? Thank you

Congratulations on your daughter being selected for TFA. My daughter did TFA directly out of college, and the first year was the toughest experience she has ever had. It can be overwhelming and a trial by fire, BUT once she made it through the first year and made a conscious effort to get some balance back into her life, the second year was great and she opted to stay on working at the school for a third year as a curriculum consultant. This is her last year and she's now going on to graduate school. TFA opens so many doors for future jobs and educational opportunities. There is am amazing network of TFA alums, and many graduate schools seek them out. Monika

First Job for HS Senior

Jan 2012

Can you recommend a good first job that my daughter could get a good experience in? Times are really tough, jobs scarce, but as she looks to college next year working this spring and especially this summer would be really helpful. She has no experiece but would especially love an entry level job in an electronics store, supermarket, self serve cafe, etc. Also want her to experience how hard this work is, for little money, to impress on her the value of her education. Thanks much. Looking for a Job

Kids get jobs just like we do, by networking. My daughter went to at least 10-15 local businesses such as yogurt shops, pet shops, clothing stores before school let out for summer last year . All of them took her application and never called back. Halfway through the summer, two friends asked if she was still looking for a job. She interviewed and was offered both. In fact, she is still working at both: tutoring one day a week and working at a golf course, cleaning golf carts and picking up balls from the range. Both job openings were because a Senior was going away to college. So my suggestion is to have your daughter ask her working friends or have you ask your friends if they know of any local businesses that need someone. Also ask local businesses if they employ any Seniors who might be leaving in the fall. Her persistence really paid off, she just bought her first car (with our help, we match whatever she could save up. She saved $2K in 5 months). It has been great, she has really matured and now we don't have to drive her everywhere! Candace

Daughter interested in medical technology careers

Oct 2011

How can I help my daughter get information about careers in medical technology, good colleges and training for these jobs. She wants to attend a 4-year college but most seem just to have either nursing or general science degrees. She's interested in medical jobs related to technology, radiology, scanning, etc. Thanks... info on technology jobs

Kaiser has a wonderful school in Richmond for many different careers in this field. They are accredited and highly respected. Make sure that any program you pick is properly accredited or your daughter will never get a job. Merritt College in Oakland has a radiology tech program and DVC/Ohlone have a respiratory tech program. Beware that all of these tend to be difficult to get into due to high demand. They usually have prereqs that can be taken at a community college.

I'm a career counselor so I'm going to get on my little soap box now. Before investing time and money in any career, see if she can job shadow someone in an area that interests her. If not, at least set up a couple informational interviews with people that work in the field and ask what they do all day long, pros and cons, etc. She might also volunteer in a hospital to see if she likes the environment. Here's a link to some useful information: Lis

Daughter, 19, looking for first job

Aug 2011

My daughter, who is 19, has been trying to find a job. She is presently a student at Berkeley City College and living at home. She tells me she has been looking online for jobs but they always want someone with some sort of experience. Being as this will be her first job, she has none. I have suggested to her to do ''cold calls'' to local businesses, but she is on the shy side and has a difficult time doing that. Any suggestions on how to navigate this issue will be appreciated. Also, any leads on any websites for her to search will be welcomed. job searching tactics welcomed

Has she looked at Craigslist? Has she registered with any temp agencies? Most people get jobs through someone they know.

Meantime, she should start volunteering somewhere RIGHT AWAY. If she wants to do retail, try the Goodwill or Salvation Army. She will work with the public, learn inventory, learn to use a cash register, learn if she likes it, and possibly get a recommendation in hand.

If she wants to work with animals, try a vet's or the animal shelter.

If she wants to work at an office, see if she can follow someone you know around at work. Maybe she can volunteer at the local library or at a local school.

There are restaurants and stores with Help Wanted signs in the window in Berkeley and Albany.

What about the babysitting jobs etc. in this newsletter? Some work is better than nothing. Working has a way of making you organize your time better, too. Good luck!

Going rate for recent college grad

Nov 2008

Any suggestions of the going rate for a new college grad to tutor high school students in their home? How about babysitting? anon. mom

I think what you pay for tutoring depends a lot on the subject matter being tutored and the applicability of the degree to that subject matter. To give you an idea of the payscale, my daughter who is a math major at CAL in her last year of study charges $30 per hour to tutor math or sciences. She is definitely on the less expensive end of the math tutoring payscale but this allows her to find tutoring that she wants to do. She has tutored high school and college students in many levels of math, but mostly calculus and pre-calculus. Mary

I can't help you on the tutoring rates, but as for babysitting, I pay college students $16 per hour, plus $10 per day for gas (taking care of my son involves picking him up after school and doing some errands). So for working 4:30-6:30 the sitter earns $42. If it is an nighttime job, no driving, just $16 per hour. I would pay a recent grad the same. Hope that helps! Fran