Summer vacation is just around the corner, and this extended time off can be a great opportunity for the teenager in your family to get their first job.
Our oldest son has technically been “working” since he was 13. When he was in seventh grade we would pay him to watch his little brother after school every Thursday while I finished up some work. This was a perfect way to teach him some responsibility in a supervised setting (my husband and I both have offices in our home.) We still continue to pay him to watch his younger brother, but he has reached an age where he’s ready to get a job outside of our home.
Your teen’s first job is a big milestone. It’s the first step towards independence, and, in some cases, can set them on the path that they will continue on into adulthood. As such, it’s important that their first experience be a positive one.
6 strategies for helping your teen find a summer job:
1. Be sure to check child labor laws in your state.
Even though your child is mature enough for a summer job, it’s important to remember that they’re still kids and need to be kept safe. You can read up on Iowa’s child labor laws for current information.
2. Help your teen set reasonable goals.
Before your child begins his or her job search, encourage them to think about what their goals for summer employment will be. For instance, is the goal of the job to gain experience in an area that may be a career interest? Are they saving up for college, or a car, or other items? This can help your teen focus on the types of jobs that may be a good fit for them.
3. Consider the logistics.
Does your teen drive or own his/her own transportation? If not, it’s important to think about how your child will get to work every day. This is especially important if you will be the primary source of transportation. You should also be sure your child’s employer is willing to offer flexible scheduling for summer classes (some teens may take extra courses over the summer months), activities, and family vacations.
4. Think about your child’s special skills, strengths, and experience.
Just because your child hasn’t been out in the “real world” working doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable experience to offer. My son has been caring for his little brother for four years —that’s a lot of valuable experience to list when applying for a job such as a summer camp counselor. Advanced computer classes, graphic design classes, automotive repair, and lawn mowing and landscape work are all useful and bankable skills your teen may have.
You can also look to your teen’s natural interests to help them start their job search. If they love being outdoors, lifeguarding might be a good fit for them. Fashion fans, video game enthusiasts, and bookworms might enjoy working at these types of stores in their local mall.
3. Write a resume and prepare for interviews.
Creating a resume is a great skill for your teen to practice. A well-crafted resume may show prospective employers that your teen is serious about finding a job and could give them a leg-up on the competition.
Resume crafting isn’t the only skill your teen should practice. If your child is called in for an interview, this is a good opportunity to teach them about how to prepare for that first important meeting. Be sure to teach them the importance of making a good first impression. Encourage them to be well-groomed and neatly dressed. Furthermore, don’t forget to teach them confidence skills, such as maintaining eye contact and the ever-important handshake.
5. Don’t forget the follow-up.
Your child shouldn’t simply wait for the phone to ring after the initial interview. Your teenager should send the interview facilitator a brief e-mail or note thanking them for their time and reiterating interest in the position.
6. You’re hired! Now what?
Before your child accepts the job, be sure to clarify a few important details with their employer. What are the working hours? What are the primary responsibilities and expectations? And—one of the most important details—how much will your child will be paid? The answers to those questions should be clear and straightforward.
Good luck to you as you help your teen seek, find, and get hired for their first summer job!
What was your first summer job?