"Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice and need”—Voltaire
What was the first job for which you received a pay stub? I remember the exhilaration I felt when I looked at the dollar and cents I had earned and the adrenalin of anticipation of how I might spend, what seemed to me, an incredibly large sum. What was the amount? If I remember correctly I was working for $1.25 an hour so the wages for two weeks would have been about $100.
But that excitement pales in comparison to the pride I felt when my supervisor told my father what a hard worker and quick learner I was.
I don’t remember much about how I got that first job other than that my father scouted it out and took me to introduce me to my prospective employer. In hindsight it seems like it was a foregone conclusion I would be hired.
Unfortunately, it is getting more and more difficult for teenagers to find employment. The last two summers the number of employed teenagers were near record lows. And, despite a slightly improving economic outlook, this summer doesn’t look much better. Teenagers are still facing a tough time finding work—nationally 24% of the 16 to 19 year olds looking for work are jobless.
Knowing how valuable that work experience can be for teenagers, let me offer a few suggestions on the ways in which you can help your child get a job:
- Start early. The best time to be looking for summer jobs is during the winter or early spring.
- Help your teenager put together a resume. We didn’t need resumes when I applied for my first job. I recall filling out an application but I wouldn’t learn what a resume was for another six or seven years. Working with your child to create their resume is a wonderful opportunity to affirm their accomplishments and to help them begin to appreciate what employers are interested in.
- Review what to expect in a job interview. In fact, you might want to consider role-playing with your teenager what a “real” job interview might feel like. If your child has classmates who are also in the job market see if your child would be willing to be interviewed by the classmate’s parent. And, of course, you could extend reciprocity.
- Did you ever suffer rejection when you were applying for jobs as a teenager or young adult? It can be crushing to teenagers particularly if they have been very successful in school and extracurricular activities. They make take it as a general statement about their worth or inappropriately extrapolate what the rejection means about their future. Or, they may disparage the prospective employer, describing them as stupid or worse. You can exercise your empathy muscles, share rejection experiences from your repertoire or that of others your teenager admires, and help your child understand that being turned down for jobs happens to everyone and that other prospective employers won’t know that he/she has been rejected.
What tips might you offer to the prospective employee or the parent of that teenager?
“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory—Gandhi