Getting a first job can be a daunting task for teenagers. Having a resume, asking for an application, and even completing an interview can all present unique challenges. Many times, employers are sympathetic to the struggles of the teenage employee – so don’t let anxieties deter you! Studies have shown that teens who find part-time high school employment have more success in their careers and lives. In particular, one study found that young people who work part-time on average make 22% more in their future career than non-working peers! Additionally, they are more likely to graduate from college and work in higher-level jobs. Despite this, teen employment is down nearly 50% since 1990! Employers still want to higher teenage labor, so the downturn in employment is more due to social changes than any policy changes.
It may be worthwhile to encourage your child to get a job. I worked at Chick-fil-A for three years in high school, part-time on the weekends and school nights. I truly believe that this experience helped me become more comfortable with public speaking and navigating complex interpersonal decisions. I started making minimum wage while cleaning the bathrooms and dining rooms, but with hard work and commitment, I eventually worked my way up the totem pole to the front counter, drive-thru and even a leadership position. I learned the fundamentals of customer service, gained experience working in a business environment, and created opportunities for positive references moving forward. I even earned a scholarship for college! My favorite activity was counting down the registers to make sure they reconciled at the end of the night.
If your child has even the slightest interest in finding work, encourage and support them. Interviewing and receiving an offer for a job can definitely be a challenge – but most employers have realistic expectations for employment experience from high schoolers.
The following is an action plan to get your kid started on the road to employment:
- Have a resume – include academic accomplishments, community involvement, and other activities that demonstrate responsibility and maturity. If you are on honor roll or have perfect attendance, there’s a pretty good chance you will show up for a shift on time!
- Be proactive – no employer will be turned off by seeing your interest in a job. Reach out to them if to ask about job openings, thank them if they interview you, and follow-up with them if you feel it’s appropriate!
- Think before you act – I know when I interviewed at Chick-fil-A, the manager offered me a meal. They wanted to see how good my manners were, whether or not I would throw away my trash, and how maturely I would act. They paid attention to whether or not I pushed in my chair, brought a pen, and dressed professionally. The little things matter – especially in interviews – so make sure you think before you act.
Getting a job, like most things you try for the first time, can be scary. But if your child has any interest in making money or working at a store, encourage them. I can positively attest that my employment at Chick-fil-A greatly contributed to my maturation and growth.