Chances are, you found this article by searching “How to Help Land Your Teenager’s First Job” or “How Can I Get My Teenager Off the Couch?”
Either way, welcome to a place of hope and humour while parenting all stages. And today, we tackle the topic of encouraging our teens to find a job.
Some teens can’t wait to land their first job. They want a paycheck, a new challenge or they can’t wait to say, “Would you like fries with that?”
Others need a little more convincing.
If your teenager resists finding their first job, you may have tried this:
Subtle Mom: “Susan’s son just got a job. I saw him the other day and he looked happy. Super duper happy. I wonder if having a job has anything to do with that.”
Nostalgic Mom: “I remember when I had my first job. I made 12 cents an hour. Those were the best times….”
Godfather Mother: “Yo. Kid. Get a job already, will ya?”
No matter which strategy you use to nudge your teen into employment, their first job will be valuable. They will learn lessons that can only come from first-hand experience.
Our oldest teenager launched his car cleaning business at age 14 (back story here).
He has been running this business for almost three years now, and like any businessman, has learned a few things. These are my front row set reflections on the many unexpected perks to my teenager landing his first job.
9 Lessons from a Teenager’s First Job
1. A teenager’s first job builds a strong work ethic
Our first-born has always known how to get things done. He works efficiently, without making excuses or procrastinating. And this has served him really well as an entrepreneur.
When his stash of cash begins to run low, he can drum up more business. He goes through his list and contacts clients who haven’t had their vehicle serviced in a while, making his life technically boredom proof.
And rewards may come in the form of tips or praise, or in the satisfaction of a job well done.
2. Doing a job well is gratifying
My boy is happiest when I pick him up from a full day of cleaning cars. His smile is wider and he saunters back to the vehicle proudly, ready to tell me the highlights of the job.
By the time we get back home, he marvels that some of his peers are still sleeping and he has earned a solid wage.
3. It is easier to spend money than save it
They might as well learn this lesson as teenagers.
We feel this as adults after spending 7.2 hours holding a garage sale only to earn enough for a Frappucino and a muffin.
Being a wise steward of money is so important. And what better way to learn how to save, than to actually have some money. But good news! We don’t always have to be the ones to give cash to our children.Better they make small financial mistakes along the way, than costly ones once they leave home.
4. Squirrels are onto something
Apart from having a death wish when crossing the road, squirrels do have some solid practices. Like hiding away their haul for lean months.
If your teenage entrepreneur has a weather-dependent business, this will be a valuable lesson. It’s important to have a budget, and pace your spending otherwise you are a rich boy in August and can’t afford a taco by February.
And if he does run out of cash, he will learn to become more of a squirrel the next time.
5. Not everyone will be your ideal customer
Working with others helps teens narrow down who they want to work for, and who they don’t.
To the sweet man whose vehicle had an inch of fur all over the backseats: you were very kind and appreciative, but I don’t think my son will work for you again.
Not only did it take him triple the time of other jobs, but he could hardly stand the heartache when you said, “This looks awesome – too bad it will be full of fur by next week when I take all four dogs to the vet.”
6. Feedback from not-their-parents is valuable
Even as adults, it can be easy to get defensive when we are criticized, making us want to hide. But our son is learning to be open to suggestions.
When he finishes detailing a vehicle, he asks customers to inspect his work. If he has missed something, he can make it right. Because he will stay until the job is done to their satisfaction, customers keep coming back.
7. Teens shine brightest out of the house
Our teens can be the best version of themselves when they find a job they enjoy. As parenting expert Barbara Greenberg explains, “Teens need all kinds of arenas in which to be successful. [A job] provides another one.”
Be prepared to get some fabulous feedback as your teen works in their new role; compliments you would never hear otherwise.
Mine arrived through texts after my son finishes a car cleaning. Clients uses phrases like, “you must be so proud” and “he is so repectful” and “I’ll definitely have him back again.” It’s basically every Mama’s dream to be able to see our teen through the lens of others.
8. Teenagers will sharpen their social skills
What better way for our teenagers to learn how to communicate, than through real life experiences like employment? They need to feel comfortable interacting with adults, making eye contact and having a confident handshake.
Teens will need to deal with co-workers, customers and employers. They will have practice negotiating hours, meeting expectations and resolving conflict. They can learn to present confidently and be respectful.
Getting their first job is like a boot camp for adulting.
Related: Should your teenager work this summer?
9. Timely parental support goes a long way
It can be hard to show teens support if they are distancing from us.
Related: 30 Tips to Connect With Your Teenager
Helping them secure employment is a simple way to do so. By supporting our kids with proofreading their resume, brainstorming opportunities or shuttling them to jobs, we are tangibly pouring into their lives.
And in case your teen forgets to say it, “Thank you, awesome parent!”
Is there ever wisdom in my teen not getting a job?
There are times when employment may not be right for your teenager.
If they are in a highly academic program and concentrating on a high GPA. Or if your teenager is having a hard time coping with stress.
And we need to keep a watchful eye that work does not infringe on their homework time or sleep. But overall, I have been thrilled with the lessons that come from watching our teenager’s first job successes.
Now for the next kid – anyone need a magician or a French tutor?
What lessons do you remember learning with your first job? Has your teenager learned any lessons from theirs? Chime in!
I’d love to encourage you further as you parent your teens. Check these out:
Pin this as an act of faith. Declaring boldly – my teenager will land a job. Soon.
Peeling onions at the stampede, restocking deodorant at shoppers drug mart (and taking it way too personally when people would wreck my meticulous efforts), & babysitting almost every weekend because I didn’t know how to say no & liked being needed. These jobs taught me far more than how to save money. For example, I learned that onions smell like something out-of-this-world rank when your hands peel hundreds of them. Some good, invaluable life lessons for sure! 😉
The smell of one onion can be unbearable – can’t even imagine the stench of peeling many. My specialty was picking pinecones off of Mt. Baldy and getting “bucket butt” because it was easier to sit on buckets to get the cones than to crouch down all day. Precious life lesson…including how to quit after 2 days 🙂
Great article (and title:) Karen! Yes, I’m so thankful my teenage boy had jobs early as he learned a lot, and he was generally happier when he had work. My daughter’s first job was raising German Shepherd puppies which mom got to help with too (I’m not a dog person, but puppies converted me)!
My first job was cleaning houses. I hated babysitting so I preferred cleaning:)
Sharing your post on The Reluctant Cowgirl FB:)
I have been amazed at how a full, working day equates to a happy teenager. Not sure if it’s related to a personality type, but I’ll take it! Pretty sure you are a saint for taking on raising puppies! Thanks so much for sharing! 😉