Jobs for Teens: 8 Tips to Help Your Teen Succeed in their First Job

Getting hired for a summer or after-school job is a major milestone and an important life lesson for teenagers. It means they will have their own bit of cash and stop hitting up the Bank of Mum as often.

Plus, it teaches them responsibility, and boosts their confidence and people skills all the while getting them out of the house, even if it means you’re on chauffeuring duties to pick them up after their shifts. Check out these best jobs for teens if your teen is still looking for work.

It may be tempting to micromanage your teen to help them succeed in their new job. Instead of trying to control the situation, coaching and guiding your teen will be most beneficial. It can take a bit of time for teens to get into the swing of things but here are some tips to help them succeed and stay organised without feeling like you’re constantly on their backs.

First Jobs for Teens – What We Need to Teach Our Teens

Juggling school, extracurricular activities, and a job will not be easy. However, it can be doable with some careful planning and guidance. Here are a few pieces of advice to pass on to them.

Lesson #1: Appearance Matters

Whether we like it or not, appearance matters, especially when it comes to landing and keeping a job. First impressions matter!

Explain to your teen the importance of dressing neatly and being well-groomed, whether picking up an application, during the interview, or after being hired.

If the job requires wearing a uniform, dressing nicely during the hiring process and ensuring their uniform is clean and wrinkle-free once they’re hired can speak volumes about their self-worth and self-respect. Help them at the start with ironing but let them take the reins once they’ve been taught how to do this.

Lesson #2: Be Professional

Whether your teen’s first job is in the retail, hospitality, or customer service industry, they will likely join as an entry-level employee, which means they’ll have supervisors, managers, and co-workers to interact with.

jobs for teens
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There’s no doubt there will be difficult co-workers or higher-ups. Discuss possible scenarios and brainstorm how to deal with or report a bad situation.

Encourage your child to be respectful and refrain from participating in workplace gossip. Remind them that complaining about the job at work or on social media is not a good idea and can easily backfire.

Lesson #3: Be Inquisitive

When many teens enter the workforce, they are still a bit shy, insecure, and fear being a bother.

Encourage your child to ask questions when in doubt. It is better to ask for clarification than to guess incorrectly later.

If applicable, they can even take notes during training to ensure they understand everything and don’t forget important details.

Lesson #4: It’s All About Attitude!

It sounds extremely cliché, but a positive attitude goes a long way. It can be the difference between being miserable at a mind-numbing entry-level job and the potential for promotions and pay raises.

This doesn’t mean they have to patronise the higher-ups or be fake and overly bubbly. Simply having a good attitude, being kind, and being reliable can make a huge difference.

The same goes for interacting with customers. There will inevitably be a cranky, demanding person here and there. A good attitude can make a bad situation better.

Lesson #5: To Spend or Save 

Your teen’s first job is the perfect time to teach them the basics of budgeting and finances before they go off to college or move out. Most teens are going to want to spend their hard-earned pay straight away but its out jobs to gently steer them into the direction of saving.

Help them get their first bank account if they don’t already have one.

Explain the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ and help them set and organise their financial goals, whether it is for their first used car, sports equipment, etc. Discuss and be clear about your expectations and plans for their earnings. Will they contribute to groceries, pay for their own gas, social activities, etc.?

Lesson #6: Plan Ahead 

Having a weekly meeting, say on a Sunday, can be a great way for your working teen to sort out their schedule with the rest of the family and also give you enough time to organise late dinners or rides to if needed.

Encourage everyone to bring their planners or calendars and discuss anything from homework, tests, work schedules – parents’ and kids’, and extracurricular and social activities to transportation needs, meal planning, etc.

A weekly meeting can be the perfect time for everyone to catch up and it teaches children to think ahead and be organized.

Lesson #7: Expectations and Responsibility

Most teens go into their first jobs for teens thinking it’s going to be easy money. But time management can be really tricky, especially when they also have grades to keep up,  friends to see, sports to play, and of course, sleep.

Before your teen starts their new job, discuss your expectations about grades, homework, financial contributions, sleep schedules, curfews, and anything else that may be affected by their new job. Explain to them that they need to find a system that works for them and that, if it’s too much, they need to tell you.

Defining expectations and consequences will help them know your boundaries and will guide them when trying to plan their schedule and workload.

Lesson #8: You’ll Be there, But You Won’t Rescue them

Do your best not to micromanage or rescue your teen when they get into a sticky situation. I know it’s difficult not to, but if they are to learn about responsibility and organisation, they must learn the skills to do it themselves. Instead, remind them that you’re always there to talk it out and find a solution together.

If they took an extra shift at work knowing they had a big project due the next day, refrain from jumping in. You have to let them figure it out. Express sympathy and interest in how they will handle the situation, but don’t fix it for them. And certainly, don’t lecture them.

I’ve said this before, you don’t teach someone to swim when they’re drowning. Discuss the issue at a later time, once the dust has settled and everyone can think calmly and clearly.

Your guidance will be invaluable to your teen as they embark on their first job. Be encouraging and available as they begin their path to independence.

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Avatar of Gloria Ramirez

Gloria Ruby Ramirez is a writer, mother, and lover of coffee, twinkle lights, and rain who believes in the magical power of words. She is passionate about parenting, mental health, and the environment. She is a former agricultural microbiologist/plant pathologist with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Arizona State University. Born in the desert of northern Mexico, she is mum to her beautifully energetic son and Shih Tzu, Gerty. When not writing, Gloria can be found spending time with her son and family, reading, or embroidering.

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