Summer job season is here, and kids with absolutely zero job experience or employable skills who have learned everything that they know about the job market from MTV reality TV shows are looking for work.
Suzanne Kleinberg is the author of From Playstation® to Workstation. She wants to provide easy-to-implement, valuable information and tools for young people looking to get into the workforce, informed by her own experiences as a career coach who specializes in working with youth and new graduates.
Suzanne agreed to answer a couple of questions to help parents who have teens that are looking for work.
With unemployment so high, is there any point in my teen even looking for a job?
Unemployment being high should never be a deterrent for any job search. Your teen may need to adjust their expectations and accept a job that is more menial than they had hoped, but it is vital to acquire some experience in order to procure better jobs in the future.
Teens also need to be encouraged to persevere, especially when it is difficult. Besides, working is not merely about money. It is about developing character too. If they can’t get a paying job, there are unlimited opportunities in volunteer work. Charities are always looking for help. What is important is to prepare a teen for a lifetime of work.
Which summer job is the best fit for my teen?
The right summer job for a teen is dependent on three things: goals, schedule, and location.
Goals: What does your teen want to get out of the job? Awareness of his or her true goals will help a teen find a job that fits. For example, a teen who hopes to become a veterinarian would benefit from a job working with animals, because this experience would build his résumé for post-graduate employment. However, if a teen’s goal is to earn money for college, the type of job may not be as important as one where the pay is better or the hours more extensive. Sometimes a teen wants a job where he can hang with his friends. This teen may enjoy working at an overnight summer camp where the pay is less but the social time is greater.
Schedule: Does your teen have other commitments or interests? Scheduling is a factor in finding a job that fits. While it is important that teens try to conform to the schedule of the working world, forcing them into a schedule that is against their nature may have a negative impact on their attitude towards work. Remember, many teens feel that the summer is their “reward” for being in school all year. While it isn’t, they should have a little downtime to enjoy life.
Location: Is the job miles away and not easily accessible by public transit? If your teen has access to a car, will the cost of gas eliminate most of their after-tax earnings? Unless the job is an incredible opportunity, the experience will be a negative one if they need to spend more time and money on travelling back and forth than the job is worth.
It can be frustrating when your teen feels that summertime should be playtime. Sit down with them and have a dialogue about what they want and need out of a summer job. It may not be easy to get through to them because of their media-induced, unrealistic expectations of work environments and earnings, but this is the age where they develop life-long work habits, so it is important that they begin to understand reality.