by Jennie Withers (www.heygetajob.com) Author of, Hey, Get a Job! A Teen Guide for Getting and Keeping a Job
As parents, when it comes to finding job openings that are suitable and legal for teens, your job is to act as a guide. This article will discuss how to do be a guide while protecting your teen’s need for independence when it comes to finding work.
As the parent of a teen, you should begin with labor laws. Labor laws regarding minors were created for a child’s safety and to ensure their right to an education. These topics should be paramount for parents as well. I would like to say that all employers who hire teens are not going to break or ignore child labor laws, but I can’t. There are those employers who are looking to save a buck and are therefore willing to overlook child labor laws. Therefore, setting some ground rules for your teen’s employment should happen before a teen starts to look for a job. Here are a few examples of those type of ground rules:
- Will not work for an employer who breaks labor laws.
- Will have to quit working if school grades begin to fall.
- Will put _____ % of each check into a savings account.
- Will keep certain days or times for family time.
- Will keep certain days or times for friends or activities.
- Will take on no more than ______ clients in your business.
You should think of the conditions of your teen’s employment. Just because they are old enough to look for a job, doesn’t mean they aren’t still kids who need boundaries.
Where to Look
Parents can offer suggestions, brainstorm possibilities and help teens research job openings. But, YOU CANNOT DO IT FOR THEM!!! Parents should be hidden in this process because your teen must assert their independence if they hope to make it in the world of work.
- Use the Job Service. One resource not used enough by teens is the Job Service. The Job Service can put you in contact with employers your teen, or you, may not think of. The Job Service will often do summer job fairs for teens in the spring and they also are abreast of any government programs available for teens.
- Let your teen use your connections. Use your connections for your teen’s benefit. But if your teen is going to learn about the employment process, he or she should fill out an application, or turn in a resume, and they should interview for the job. Connections should be just that, connections. Teens should not think of them as sure things.
- Be aware of your surroundings. There is no law against simply applying at a business. If you are out and about with your teen, have him or her pick up applications, or once they have a master application, he or she can apply at a computer kiosk while you shop. Do not hang out with your teen while they apply and do not pick up applications for them because he or she needs to appear independent.
- Being their own boss. A teen’s desire to start a business should be a family one. Parents should know what the time and/or financial commitment is for them . What do they need from you – tuition for a babysitting or first aid class, equipment, money for fliers, etc.? How many clients can they realistically take on and still maintain an appropriate academic level and time for social and family activities? How much are they going to charge for their services? Teens are still working on the ability to think ahead, particularly when an idea like making money excites them. Parents need to help them look beyond the cash. Parents should also screen possible clients. Meet and talk with people who want to hire your teen. Just because your teen is old enough to work, doesn’t mean he or she is too old to need a parent looking out for them.
- Consider volunteering. In a down economy where jobs are scarce, if your family doesn’t need the money, consider volunteer positions for your teen. Volunteering can be a great way to gain work experience. Some possibilities for volunteer work are at: hospitals, animal shelters, zoos, libraries, nursing homes, children’s programs and any organization with non-profit status. Your teen will have to apply and interview for volunteer positions because, like employers, organizers don’t want to waste time on someone who won’t work out. Volunteer work looks very good on applications for employment, college admissions and college scholarships.
A parent’s responsibility in the job process is to help them look for openings and ensure their teen isn’t getting into something that will prove harmful in the present or future. Keep in mind, however, parents who overstep their role as a guide on important rites of passage such as getting a job may create a teen who refuses to grow up and be independent. If you support your teen and act as a guide in this exciting endeavor you will get them started on the right foot to becoming a contributing member of society.
Jennie Withers (www.jenniewithers.com) is a graduate of Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, and currently teaches Technical Reading and Writing and Creative Writing at the high school level. As well as her teen guides, Hey, Back Off! and Hey, Get a Job! she has published or contributed to articles in TWIST magazine, Boy’s Life magazine, Family Circle magazine and Treasure Valley Teen magazine among others. She lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband and two daughters.