My oldest is a high school graduate (by the time) with two years of work experience. Not just summer experience, he worked throughout his junior and senior years of high school while maintaining a 3.0 g.p.a, playing sports, and participating in clubs.
As a father, seeing him grow in character was just as important as his high school diploma. Our children become more resilient if we allow discipline to prepare them for life after high school including college.
Teens should work. They will find time for video games or hanging out with their friends. When teens turn 16, they are job seekers, as defined by their parents, and when possible the fathers.
These are my suggestions in creating teen job seekers:
1. Employ them early
Give your three and four year old a job, pay them, and watch them work. Notice and remember his or her enthusiasm and zeal. Think about how you can build on their willingness. Oh yeah, did I say pay them?
2. Teach them how to work
If you don’t work with them and teach them, he or she may never work. The younger the easier, the older the harder —then you’re on your own.
3. Don’t make them fill out 100 applications
Instead, dress them up and take them around to small businesses to talk to adults. If they do not like adults during the teen years, they will with pay.
4. Coach your children in their relationships with adults
Yes, they need coaching and monitoring by YOU the parent. Everything un-taught will appear ugly, so prepare them now. Networking 101 starts with conversations, shaking hands, eye contact, and the parent starring as the loving weirdo. Take a bow. You’re welcome.
5. Explain to them what you do
Show them how you do it and make sure they can explain your career to peers and teachers with clarity. Even if you’re unemployed, provide examples of your work and your career.
6. Be honest about your career struggles
You will connect with them in positively profound ways. I did this with my oldest son. At 18, he has more working experience than his under 30 cousins with two years at the same job.
7. Make it clear that at 16, they are job seekers
No matter what your economic status, your teen should work at minimum during the summer. They can buy their own school clothes and treat the family to lunch or dinner. The pride he or she displays is priceless. I promise.
8. Show them your accomplishments
Awards, prizes, accommodations, or certificates send a subtle message what you expect of them. If they are not proud of you, your work has just begun.
9. Inspire them
Chastising, hazing, stalking, or harassing doesn’t work. Trust them to the seeds of knowledge and experience to grow over time.
10. Anticipate resistance
It is not a cakewalk for many teens as peers claim to lead the glamorous life on Facebook. Have them think about the job they want, and a target company. Is it that bad to work at The Gap because he or she loves clothes?
11. Allow working peers to influence them
There is nothing wrong with them wanting to work where peers already work, unless it is illegal or the friend is a bad influence.
12. Reveal to them that money is not the only incentive
Restrain your inner Warren Buffett and make experience attractive. Don’t be surprised that relationships sprout from working with people from different cultures, genders, and ages. She may be cute, sure he is charming, but work will cultivate character.
My son works out his budget, understands his financial obligations and responsibilities, and values time. Most of his friends still think money grows on trees and aggravate their parents to pay for everything. My son has imperfections and immaturity like many young adults, but he can experience making a few adult decisions as he treats for family dinner on payday.
Is it tough to get your teen to work? I think teens should work. Do you? Please share, I would love to hear.
Featured image courtesy of orphanjones licensed via Creative Commons.