Teen Jobs: An Important Rite of Passage

Published Wednesday, September 22, 2010 1:14 PM

School is in full swing and your teens are doubtlessly juggling academics and after-school activities. Consider adding another important activity to your teen's to-do list: job hunting. A first job is an important rite of passage, teaching responsibility and money management skills. Even the act of looking for a job is a teachable moment, so don't let the down job market deter you and your teen from embarking on a fall job hunt, or for getting a head start in thinking about summer jobs.

Parent Trap

Parents can and should help their children navigate their first job hunt but should take pains to avoid falling into the trap of "owning" the job search.  Try not to do all the leg work, or steer your teen to your preferred work, doing so will rob your teen of the chance to make their own decisions and mistakes. The act of looking is an education in its own right; let your teen dive in and take control.

Parents wishing to encourage and support their teens can help with resume proofreading and with big-picture thinking; for example, encourage your teens to think about what type of work they are well suited for and would enjoy. Shy teens might prefer a job shelving library books or working in a store stockroom rather than a role that requires people skills such as manning the library front desk or working the sales floor.  A teen who enjoys animals might work as a dog-walker and a sports enthusiast might work at a sports camp or gym. 

Job Snob

Parents can also help set realistic expectations. Many teen jobs pay minimum wage and often involve less than glamorous work. A teen may be surprised to learn how many hours it takes at a minimum-wage job to earn a coveted pair of designer jeans. Parents can help teens understand that all work has merit and that a job well done leads to increased opportunities down the road.

Encourage your teens to think outside-the-box. Jobs are harder to come by than ever and historically teen-friendly jobs such as retail and restaurant work are seeing adults vie for positions. Get creative: babysitting, dog-walking and other services such as digitizing photos or music are all jobs teens can look for in their own neighborhood. Many local libraries or civic groups sponsor teen jobs fairs or training. If a teen cannot find paid work, encourage them to volunteer to gain necessary experience for their go round.

Finally, take time to read through these resources we culled from across the web. Read these articles with your teen and discuss what tips seem most helpful and why.

Does your teen have a job? Do you have job hunting tips to share with teen job seekers? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris


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