The work force can be positive for your teen. You can help.
Most teens are anxious to jump into the workforce because they appreciate the tremendous feeling of empowerment that finding jobs and earning their own money brings. Eagerly anticipating the demonstration of responsibility and maturity, teens often fail to realize that these initial steps into the world of the gainfully employed are the first of many years they will spend working. A teen’s enthusiasm and anticipation can be easily squashed by the reality of on-the-job pressures and difficult co-workers.
While issues of dependability and budgeting are common to experienced working adults, many teens become discouraged when their first jobs aren’t glamorous or exciting. Help your teen avoid common pitfalls and find on-the-job satisfaction to make her first job memorable and productive.
Obviously, preserving the safety and well being of a working teen is essential. Arm your teen with concise knowledge of her rights as an employee and individual. Make sure that you review basic safety precautions and potential health and safety risks with her before she starts the job, and periodically during the term of his employment.
Although it may be uncomfortable, you should also review the boundaries and definitions of harassment and discrimination to ensure your teen is comfortable with and informed of her rights and personal limits.
The Self-Employed Teen
If your teen or ‘tween is looking beyond babysitting to gain experience and earn money, suggest a few options in addition to working at a local fast food restaurant or discount store. A foray into self-employment is usually quite appealing with teens who are searching for a productive yet creative outlet. If your child isn’t quite ready for the stress of punching a time clock, having her own business may be a great alternative that also provides some lessons in self-discipline and time management.
Encourage your child to look to his hobbies and interests to find a suitable business. Animal lovers might thrive with a dog-walking or pet-washing service provided to the pets of busy families in the neighborhood. Traveling friends and neighbors might prefer having someone “mail box and newspaper sit” instead of having to place a vacation hold at the Post Office.
Teens who have an interest in the outdoors can have a lawn service that goes beyond merely pushing a lawnmower around the yard. Spreading mulch, planting annuals and seasonal yard clean-up services create the opportunity for a larger clientele base and on-the-job variety.
Whatever his passion, talking with your teen about what his ideal job would be will give him direction to begin searching for employment. Knowing what he expects to achieve on the job and what his time restraints are will be helpful for a teen who is venturing into self-employment.
Organization and Professionalism
Whatever type of employment path he chooses to follow, being perceived as a reliable and serious business owner or individual will be one of the keys to his success. Because marketing and promotion requires stamina and working capital, your self-employed teen can cut costs by advertising his business with flyers and business cards printed on your home computer.
Teens who find employment at an established business should take note of the difference between school clothes and business attire and remember to speak respectfully and intelligently. With a mature attitude and a professional image, he’ll be recognized as a serious professional with a genuine service to sell.
Teens need to be aware that the responsibility of working brings the need for financial responsibility as well. A teen’s first job is also the perfect time to consider opening his own bank account. The chance to be a part of his banking transactions will generate interest and enthusiasm for fiscal solvency. Make sure that he keeps accurate records of expenses and income for filing income taxes and determining profitability.
Scams and Schemes
Flyers posted on grocery store bulletin boards, signs along the side of the road and ads in the classified section often carry flashy messages touting the ability to earn amazing wages effortlessly and virtually instantaneously. Unfortunately, a teen’s naivete can make him easy prey to get-rich-quick or work-at-home scams. Making sure your teen realizes that earning significant amounts of money is the result of patient work and dedication, not a few phone calls, will help protect him from get-rich-quick scams.
Gina Roberts-Grey is a mother, freelance writer and licensed clinical social worker.