It's important for teens to have something constructive to do during the summer. A summer job is a good idea.
If your teen decides to get a summer job, help him or her see summer employment as a building block for their resume and not just busy work. In other words, teens should take summer employment seriously — because employers do.
It's best if your teen starts looking for a summer job long before summer begins — preferably by March for employment in June. But it's never too late to get out there and apply. Below are some other tips parents can use to help their teens find the “right fit” when it comes to summer employment.
1. Talk with your teen about their work interest. Ask whether they like working with people, working on computers, working outside versus inside, etc. The list goes on. Finding out what your teen is interested in doing will increase the likelihood he or she will stick with the job for the full summer and get something out of it.
2. Location, location, location. Consider employment that is nearby. This will reduce travel time and cost. It will also make it easy for your teen to walk to work when necessary. If there is no work nearby and family transportation is limited, scope out the bus and your route to work to provide drop off and pick up support.
3. Friends and family. If finding a job becomes difficult, don't forget to reach out to friends and family in the workforce. Often, who you know at a place of employment can work in your teen’s favor. Knowing where gainful employment is is half the job! Do not be afraid to ask. Remember, closed mouths aren’t fed.
4. Organizational work can tick all the boxes. Place a reputable organization at the top of your teen’s list of places to work. Working for an organization such as summer camps, recreational centers, intern work with a business, etc., may provide more safety, dependability, consistent pay and summer employment.
5. Remember, age is just a number. Just because your child is old enough to work, does not mean they are prepared for the responsibility. Not every 14- or 15-year-old is ready for employment. Developmentally and/or socially, they may need to mature and work on their social skill at home first before letting them lose on employers. A summer job can build a flattering or unflattering employment history. Be sure your teens is emotionally and socially ready for the workforce, otherwise it could be a very long summer.
6. Have the talk about money do's and don’ts. Whenever there is money involved, it's important to discuss the three big questions — saving, spending and giving. Talk with your teen about the percentage they will save and why. After the amount of saving is determined, then budget out monthly spending projections and giving (tithing, gifts, etc.). Keep in mind that a summer job is the foundation for future income habits.
7. Family chores are still required. Too often, teens who work feel doing any chores at home is off their list of things to do. Make it clear with your teen that taking on the responsibility of working does not mean they have no responsibilities at home. Teens who work will need to make their bed, take out trash, etc. Be sure to make this crystal clear with your teenager. It would not hurt to put it in writing as part of their agreement to get a summer job and post it on the fringe as a reminder. It's not always necessary, but it can be helpful.
Bridget Barnes has more than 30 years of experience as a Health and Human Services professional. Bridget joined Boys Town's Family Services Research and Development department to assist with creating what is now the evidence-based Common Sense Parenting program.