From interviewing to transportation, here are the issues parents should consider.
You may not be as misty-eyed as you were when your child left for the first day of school, but the day your teenager goes to his or her first day of work can be emotional, too. In fact, if the passage of time seems to be flashing by at an unreal speed, you may feel worse.
But now’s not the time for soul-searching. For the moment, if your teenager is searching for employment, you’ll want to be thinking about several issues to properly prepare your teenager – and yourself – for that first job.
Don’t assume it’ll be easy to find work. You may remember it being easy to get a summer job. That could be your faulty memory at play, or maybe it was easier to find a summer job than it is now: Fewer teenagers have summer jobs these days, according to a 2015 report from the Pew Research Center. Teen employment has been tracked since 1948. The peak was 1978, when 58 percent of teenagers were employed during the summer. In more recent years, since the Great Recession, 30 percent of teenagers have had a summer job, according to Pew.
There are a lot of factors involved in the disappearance of summer jobs, from more schools starting before Labor Day (fewer days to work) to teenagers volunteering or taking unpaid internships to get a leg up on college applications.
The Pew report also noted that there are fewer low-skill, entry-level jobs available than in previous decades. Teen summer employment was hit hard after the last 2007-09 recession and never really recovered.
Lain Ehmann, a mother of two teenagers in Scottsdale, Arizona, says her kids have been discovering how challenging finding work can be.
“My daughter is legally able to work in Arizona, but most places won’t hire someone under 16. It’s been frustrating for her,” she says.
Ehmann also observes that her teenagers “think they can apply for one job and get it. They really don’t understand the idea of pounding the pavement and sending out multiple applications.”
Consider transportation options. Alejandra Pikulski, a mother and business owner in Jacksonville, Florida, says her daughter’s first job was at Chipotle.
“The schedule was a nightmare, and let’s just say that Uber made a lot of money out of her,” Pikulski says.
Pikulski also drove her then 17-year-old daughter to and from work plenty of times. On the bright side, her daughter earned enough to buy a used car. But transportation is something you’ll want to consider, especially if your child’s work hours overlap with your own. Will helping your teenager with his or her job hurt yours?
Encourage your teen to ask questions during the job interview. Your child is going to have to get a job on his or her own, but you can help with preparation for job interviews. Encourage your teen to ask lots of questions during the process.
Joel Epstein, a father of three, says one of his sons is starting a paid internship in West Bloomfield, Michigan, this month, and he wishes his son had asked a few more questions during the job interview.
“My very bright, award-winning and college-bound teenager accepted a job without knowing the pay rate. He was too embarrassed to ask,” Epstein says.
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? In any case, Romy Taormina, a business owner and mom of two teenagers in Pacific Grove, California, says her 16-year-old son, Coleman, is working as a lifeguard for two employers this summer, and she suggests finding out as early as possible if your child needs special clothes for the job.
“Go shopping with plenty of notice in case you can’t find what you need locally and need to purchase items online and wait for them to arrive in the mail,” she advises.
Taormina didn’t quite run into this problem, but she almost did. As part of her son’s work uniform, he needed a special hat with a lifeguard symbol on it. One of his employers provided a hat, but if it hadn’t, she would have had to go shopping in a hurry.
This is a great teaching moment. Your teenager is about to learn a lot about working and the real world, even if you don’t get involved in his or her job search.
But if you are one of those parents who to loves to pass on your collection of hard-earned parental pearls of wisdom, this is your chance. Especially if your teen is nervous about making a good impression, he or she may even be interested in listening to you. Maybe.
David Naylor, a management consultant in Rochester, New York, and father of two, shared these tips and many more with his 17-year-old son, Ben, when he began his first job this summer. (Actually, he’s working two jobs: cooking at a McDonald’s and busing tables at a local restaurant.)
Take initiative. “If there is nothing to do, find a broom and clean something,” Naylor told his son.
Be a problem-solver. “Figure out what is the biggest problem your boss is having at work and help find a solution,” Naylor advised.
Use your money wisely. Naylor suggested that his son use the rule of thirds. “Take one-third of your paycheck and put it in savings. Use one-third for your expenses, like gas, food, dates … Take the final one-third and do or buy something fun with it.”
Be punctual. Naylor told his son: “Ten minutes early means you’re arriving on time.”