Michael Costigan is a 17 – year-old from Orange County, CA. He is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, and truly enjoys helping other’s better understand teen related issues. You can follow him at www.SpeakingofMichael.com
Teens who are 16 and older can readily obtain some form of retail service or hospitality job. Readily, however, does not necessarily mean that it’s easy. In most states, 16 years marks the age that students can begin working. Of course, they are limited to less hours, certain work conditions, and other state requirements.
Work experience is invaluable though, and in today’s world, having early age work experience is becoming less and less of a defining stand out, and more and more of a common resume booster. Thus, there are several reasons why teens might find it useful and fun to work — not to mention the financial relief they may provide for their parents given our current economy.
1. Getting a job is not as easy as 123.
Although they are low paying and often not very exciting, jobs for teens are at their lowest existence rates in years. Roughly 30% percent of teens are unemployed. (TIME http://ti.me/kUxfmk)
However, teens, because they are less experienced and not usually full-time employees, can save employers significant overhead in a time of tight cash-flow. Teens can capitalize off of this opportunity. Ideally, teens, if they’re able to, should work year around. Summer jobs rarely offer the type of continuity with purpose needed to fully acquaint one with having a ‘real job’. Nevertheless, a summer job, or paid internship, can be an important part of college resumes, practical experience, and oh, learning to be an adult. I typically find that amongst the people I know, less than one quarter of them worked during high school. And when graduation came, many of them went out in a fury looking for jobs. While this may work to a certain extent, having a 3+ year jumpstart over them has helped me deeply in not only the type of positions I am able to field, but the level of confidence I hold in going off to pursue more significant work related ventures.
A job provides structure and places responsibility. Think of it as a way to parent, but where someone else does most of the work for you. The skills picked up as a teen employee will not only set your son or daughter apart in accomplishment, but in maturity and personal fulfillment.
2. Losing a job is as easy as 123.
Just like losing car or cellphone privileges might be easy for your son or daughter to do, so is losing a job. For the most part, teen jobs are disposable jobs. There are many teens that could fill them, and they take little effort or overhead to replace someone if they are failing to meet the expectations of a specific position. That’s an ego strike for most teens, some of whom may even be fired simply because they were not outperforming someone else. Of course there are laws for the appropriate procurement of labor, but hiring and firing always has and always will carry a bias.
The earlier one starts a job, the more experience and confidence he or she will have when it comes to holding down a higher paying job that “really does matter”.
3. Jobs are worth the time and commitment for most teens.
I’ve pretended to be the teen job evangelist for the last few paragraphs, but don’t be misled. I say that jobs are important, and they are, but not every teen is ready for the level of responsibility that one carries. And not every parent knows how to adjust their parenting style responsibly to meet the maturity of an employed child.
The better the job, the more financial independence a teen can earn, the more financial independence a teen has, the more parenting independence they should receive. Yes, you read that correctly. A responsible teen who is working multiple days a week and earning their own money to go out with their friends deserves the right to be able to do so at a greater leisure than previously before. It’s hard, for example, to require a 10 o’clock curfew on your teen, if and when, they have a job that works them past 10 PM four nights out of the week.
I will leave you with this. As someone who’s friends are all leaving for college this coming fall, I would have wanted their parents to have been able to witness their children functioning as adults on their own. For in three months, in effect, that’s what they’ll be. Yet next to none of their parents have ever seen them successfully carry out this feat. Someone does the laundry for them, or buys their gas, or drives them to and from the movies. They’re still asking their parents for money.
Parents, how important is a trial run of your teens’ adulthood before they leave for college? They’re success in life just might depend on it.