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Helping Your Teen Find a Summer Job

Your teen is looking for his first summer job.  Here are a few things you can do to help him secure a position.

  • Speak with him about the jobs for which he is eligible and well suited.  Because he is not yet 18 years of age, the federal government will not let him perform certain kinds of “hazardous” occupations, such as driving for work (such as a pizza delivery person would do), construction (no matter how big, burly, and handy he may be), etc.  The federal government will also restrict the hours that he can work.  Beyond governmental restrictions on his eligibility for certain kinds of work, your teen also needs to consider the kinds of jobs for which he is well suited based on his interests, skills, and abilities.  For example, if he has many allergies to outdoor allergens, he may not be well suited to be a junior park ranger.  Help your teen assess his interests, skills, and abilities so that his prospective summer jobs can be targeted.   What does he like to do?  What is he good at doing?  Are there any summer jobs that involve doing any of those things?  For example, if your teen loves sports, perhaps he can help coordinate summer sports leagues for your community’s department of parks and recreations.  If he is more of an indoorsy kind of guy, perhaps he can work for a local retailer such as a teen-oriented clothing store, grocer, or a fast food chain.  There are lots of opportunities, and you and your teen should brainstorm on options, both probable and outside-the-box.  For example, a local office may not think they have any job openings, but if your teen expresses an interest in shredding their old documents that have passed their retention requirement, they may jump at the chance to get rid of that mound of paper in their to-shred stack and get their regular full-time employees off the hook for having to perform the hours of work associated with that shredding.  While he’s at it, perhaps there are other “odd jobs” they can have him do too, thus freeing up their regular staff to perform their regular job tasks.  Are they good with kids?  What about a babysitting job?  There are many neighbors with young kids who may prefer a babysitter in their home rather than taking their kids to a daycare during the summer.
  • Teach him how to communicate appropriately, both in writing (i.e., on his employment application forms) and in person (i.e., in his interviews).   Encourage him to think about things from his prospective employers’ perspective.  What do the prospective employers reasonably expect of him in terms of attendance and performance?  What kinds of answers can he give to application and interview questions that will let his prospective employers know that he is willing and able to live up to their expectations?  Additionally, encourage him to go above and beyond to form connections with his prospective employers.  For example, he should write thank-you notes to his interviewers after they have interviewed him.  Each thank-you note should include a few sentences that are specific to that interview, such as, “It was so nice to meet you and learn about your company.  I especially liked hearing about how environmentally friendly your company is.  It would make me proud to work for such an ethical organization.”
  • Teach him how to dress appropriately for interviews.  What constitutes appropriate dress for interview purposes depends on the type of job he is interviewing for.  If he’s interviewing to work in an office, slacks and a tie are encouraged.  If he is interviewing to work as a gardener, jeans and a t-shirt may be acceptable.  If he’s interviewing to be a lifeguard for your municipal swimming pool, shorts and flip-flops may be appropriate interview apparel.
  • Help him set appropriate expectations regarding his summer employment.  What is the pay rate that he can likely expect to receive?  Explain the difference between gross and net pay.  Speak about how he should handle his income (i.e., saving versus spending).  Explain the chain of command, progressive discipline, employment-at-will, and the value of teamwork.

By helping your teen with the points above, you can help him secure a summer position that is a good fit for him.

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