"You have to really work at it," said Ian Segal, 16. "You have to really want to find a job to do this."
The summer job now means more than spending money, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.
"I'm trying to help out my mom, said Dania Abelhadi, 16. "They cut her hours at work."
"Any little thing I can help with I'm willing to do," said Alex Jefferson, 16.
Alex needs work fast. Her mom Wanda is being laid off in two weeks.
"She's trying to take on my struggles," said Wanda Mitchell. "And she shouldn't have to at that age."
Alex has interviewed for eight jobs. She's heard a lot about cutbacks. Her nerves are starting to show.
When it comes to retail, movie theaters and fast food work, teens are now competing with laid-off adults. Nearly 1.5 million teenagers are now unemployed, a 17-year high, and a 9 percent jump from last summer.
While "Help Wanted" signs are hard to find, experts say there are jobs out there for teens. But they need to enlarge their network to land one.
"They're going to have to work with friends of friends, and associates of associates, and go to places that no one in the family has maybe looked for work in the past to try and find it," said Matt Ferguson, the CEO of careerbuilder.com.
Alex applied at a L.A. radio station owned by Stevie Wonder, and met the boss himself.
Alex tried out her radio skills and landed an internship.
"When you become a DJ, make sure you play all my music," Wonder said.
She also got a job doing office work.
"The ninth time is a charm," Tracy said.
"Yes," said Alex, laughing.
The actual work will be a whole lot easier than what it took to get it.