Do you remember your first job? Many parents probably wonder when they should let their children become employees. Is it time for your teen to go out into the workforce? What kind of job can they even get? These are questions that parents should be thinking about and discussing together before their children get old enough to leave the nest.
Getting a job for the first time, especially in this economy, can be a daunting and difficult task. Either way, working can be a very beneficial experience that helps teenagers get more prepared for the real world once they have to leave home.
Here’s what the research has to say:
“Work is a pervasive facet of teenage life. Roughly one-third of 16- and 17-year-olds are employed in any given week during the school year, with about 80 percent holding a job at some point during their junior or senior years. For many teens and their parents, the benefits of working are self-evident. Part-time jobs are one of the surest ways to teach kids important job skills; learning early how to balance school and work may help kids balance competing commitments later on. The time teens spend on the job is generally time they don’t spend on criminal activity or dangerous forms of recreation. And, as Emily Payet points out, holding a job gives teens spending money over which they have complete control” (Morantz, 2001).
“Some teens even discover lifelong careers. ‘My board of directors is composed of 41 industry leaders,’ notes Peter Christie, Executive Vice President and C.E.O. of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. ‘Many started out in entry-level positions in the fast-food industry. . . . I myself started as a dishwasher in a diner, and then went back twenty years later and bought that diner.’ Some unusual jobs may even give students entrée into careers they would not have considered otherwise. Irene Brand was thinking about a career in journalism before she landed a summer job working with animals at the New England Aquarium. ‘I never thought about doing this kind of work,’ said the 16-year-old from Dorchester, Massachusetts. ‘I might want to continue doing it after I finish school’” (Morantz, 2001).
“On the other hand, working in junior high and high school can carry special risks. Youth and inexperience tend to make teenagers especially vulnerable to workplace injuries and other safety hazards. Coworkers may “educate” teens about alcohol, drugs, and other high-risk activities; extra spending money may encourage them further. And students worn out from too many hours on the job may have trouble keeping up with homework and focusing on classroom instruction. This raises concern that, despite the benefits, teens could even wind up worse off in the long run, with lower-paying jobs and less opportunity than if they had concentrated time and attention on school, athletics, or other after-school activities” (Morantz, 2001).
Obviously there are risks and benefits to teenagers in the workforce, but they have to start somewhere! Click here to find out more about youth employment in the United States and to explore career options with your children.
Morantz, A. (2001). Teens in the workforce. Federal reserve bank of boston. Retrieved from: http://www.bos.frb.org/economic/nerr/rr2001/q2/teens.htm