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How to Prepare Teens for their First Summer Job

Posted on: June 25, 2019

Young Waitress Taking Orders in Cafe

It’s officially summer, and if you have teens, then you may be considering helping them find a summer job.

More than just a paycheck, summer employment offers teenagers important skills such as teamwork, time management, responsibility and problem-solving skills.

The experience will give them real-world experience and make them better prepared when they enter the workforce later in life.

This is important because a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that many college graduates may be hitting the job market unprepared to meet employers’ expectations.

So, how can you prepare your teen for their first job?

Manage expectations

Teen employment has been tracked since 1948. According to Pew Research Center, the peak of teen employment was back in 1978 when 58% of teenagers were employed. In more recent years, that number has dropped to 30%.

Some of the factors attributed to the drop are that there are fewer entry-level, low-skill jobs available, and that more teenagers are volunteering or taking unpaid internships.

One way to help your teenager in his or her job search is to remind them that just because they apply for a job doesn’t mean they will get it. They need to work hard and send out multiple applications just like adult job seekers do.

Ask questions

While your teenager will be in the interview without you, you can still help them prepare. Encourage your teen to ask lots of questions during the process. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask about hours, pay and time off.

Maintain a good attitude

Sometimes, a first job doesn’t live up to its expectation, so a good attitude can help the day go by faster. Showing up on time every day, being reliable and filling in for others when needed, also shows the boss that your teen has what it takes to succeed.

Consider transportation

If your teenager doesn’t drive yet, then transportation to and from work could fall on you. Consider if your teen could walk or ride their bike to work or perhaps catch a ride with a friend. If you need to drive them to and from work, make sure your teen’s work hours don’t overlap with your own.

Think about work attire

Depending on the job, your teen may need to buy work clothes. Perhaps not, if the local grocery store or fast-food restaurant provides uniforms. But what if your teenager is working in an office? Find out as early as possible if your teen needs special clothes for the job.

Establish a budget

Discuss finances in advance and teach your teen basic budgeting skills. A lot of teens are surprised to discover how much of their paycheck goes to taxes, so warn them in advance that a percentage of the money goes straight to the government. This is also a good time to discuss the importance of saving money and making wise buying decisions.

Behave with professionalism

An entry-level position means your teen may have to deal with lots of supervisors and perhaps difficult co-workers. Talk to your teen about how to deal with difficult people up front before it becomes a real issue. For instance, a co-worker that has a bad attitude should be dealt with respectfully, even if that co-worker is disrespectful. If someone gets too far out of line, encourage your teen to report the behavior to their boss.

Talk to your teen about cell phone etiquette. They should turn off the phone during an interview and make sure they know it isn’t appropriate to send text messages or be distracted by their phone while on the job.

Also, make it clear that it’s not OK to complain about work on social media.

Teaching moment

This is one of those opportunities for you as a parent to pass on some well-earned wisdom and advice, especially if your teen is nervous about making a good impression. He or she may even be interested in listening to you. Maybe.

A teen’s first summer job can offer worthwhile lessons in money, workplace and life-planning skills.

Parents can offer valuable guidance and suggestions to make sure their child has an educated start in the working world.