Do you remember your first summer job? Your first boss? Most people do because it’s a pivotal time of your life. But, having a job for the first time can be overwhelming. High school students know what is expected of them at school and with sports and activities. Going to work is a whole new world. Jobs introduce bosses with expectations, co-workers to get along with, customers to please, etc. And, jobs for teens aren’t always the most stimulating tasks. Sometimes they may have trouble focusing or get restless. Their minds may wander. What can we as parents do to help our teens survive their summer job (and even THRIVE at it)?
The long slog – day after day after day….
We get it, don’t we? It can be hard to get used to doing repetitive tasks every day. Taking breaks when allowed at work is important. Encourage them take a brief walk around. Stretch. Do a puzzle on their phone. Just do something opposite of how they just spent their last few hours on the job.
Is there a specific time of day when they struggle the most? Be sure to identify when work is the most challenging. Identify the trouble time and focus on a plan to make it through that period of their day. Be sure they are getting enough sleep—a real challenge for this age!
All kinds of different people!
Teens need to be aware that, during their job, they’ll be interacting with people of all ages and experiences. Their co-workers and customers may be other teens, but they also could be older adults on the verge of retirement or single parents who all have different life experiences. It can be eye-opening to meet all these different kinds of people.
Encourage your student to observe and learn what the lives of others are like. Help them to see how their strengths and skills fit into the work setting.
Kids are used to feedback.
They receive grades for school. They win and lose at sports and other competitions. As parents, we are continually giving them feedback. In a work setting, students may not receive much (or any) feedback. That frequent progress checkpoint may be missing. So long as they aren’t messing up, their managers may not say anything about how they are doing. Teens may be a little lost without some communication.
Teens may have to be the ones to ask for feedback and then act on what they are told. They can ask, “How can I do this better?” or “What can I do to improve?” Students may find this task daunting, but it’s likely this step will be positive. Plus, it will show initiative and pride in their work, so long as they act on what they are told.
Accept the challenges
Let’s face it. Working is hard. It is easy to fall into the habit of complaining or to even just quit. But the hard parts of our first jobs are really important. And as adults, we know job challenges aren’t going to go away. Transitioning to the different demands can be easier if the student recognizes and embraces those challenges instead of just complaining about them.
Perhaps that’s easier said than done for a teen! But as parents, we can talk through the challenging aspects of work with them and help the student to see the positives like their growth, their development, and their successes (and paycheck). Thinking positively is a key to success and happiness in life.
The benefits of working
This article from CBS News sums it up. Today’s employers say that college graduates are less prepared for the working world after they graduate. What helps? Having a job! By getting work experience, teens learn how to deal with others, accept responsibility, improve communication and problem-solving skills, and learn to grow in the process. They will have more self-confidence and the ability to take what they have learned about themselves to make plans for their future.
Enjoy this post? Don’t want to miss any future blogs about education, college, or careers?