TMCnet Feature
September 10, 2021

Entering the Workforce as a Teen

One of many first experiences a teenager will have is getting their first job. While their focus may be on the benefits of earning their own money and experiencing some measure of financial freedom, there are many other skills that go along with it.

Think about the last time you listened to that distorted voice you gave your food order to as you drove through your favorite fast-food restaurant. Handing your money over to the high schooler at the window may be commonplace for you, but for them, they are learning how to interact with customers in a professional manner. That’s just one of the many skills they will learn.

Application Process

Before even getting their first job, your teenager, with your guidance, will learn how to sell themselves to a potential employer. First impressions can make a huge impact on how they are perceived. Make sure they understand the importance of a good appearance, firm handshake, eye contact, and confidence.

Once a job has been offered comes the formality of the paperwork. Ask your teen if they can bring their forms, especially tax withholdings, home to fill out together. You can explain to them the general notion of taxes and how different withholdings can impact them. They will also need to provide proof of identity. Don't freak out when you hear those dreaded words, “I lost my birth certificate.” With the ease of streamlined resources, replacing it won’t be nearly the headache it could’ve been when you were a teen.

After all of the pre-employment formalities are met, make sure your teenager knows the importance of informing their employer of any potential scheduling conflicts. Staying involved in extracurricular activities is important, especially for high school students. Transparency about obligations outside of work will help to sidestep any scheduling problems.

Life Skills

By going to work, teenagers learn skills they will continue to fine-tune for the rest of their lives. One of the most important skills is time management. Your teen will quickly learn how to balance school, work, family, and extracurricular activities. They will soon figure out how to prioritize their time.

Accountability and communication are other valuable skills your teen will learn to embrace. Explain the importance of dependability and how crucial it is to notify an employer as soon as possible if they are unable to make it to work. Let your teenager know they will make mistakes, and that’s okay. It’s important that they expect to feel a little awkward in their first few days. They are taking in a lot of new information and procedures; once they do it a few times, they will become more comfortable and confident.

Much bigger than a paycheck, your teen will realize the importance of being a part of a team. They will figure out effective communication skills. Their interactions with customers will be different from those with their coworkers or friends.

Becoming somewhat self-sufficient is rewarding. What better feeling is there than satisfaction? Help your high school student to set realistic goals and stress the importance of saving money. By setting a portion of their paycheck away in a savings account, they will get their first taste of budgeting. This is the foundation of your teenager’s financial health. Just as safeguarding their mental and physical health, helping your teen establish a healthy relationship with money will serve them well for the rest of their life.

Stay involved in your child’s new adventure. Let them talk out any frustrations and offer advice on how to deal with the stress that goes along with having a bad day. As with any new experience, a learning curve is to be expected.

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