Having a part-time job during adolescence used to be a staple in American society, but teen employment rates have plummeted in the last few decades. Data indicates that adolescent employment rates went down 19% in the first decade of the 2000’s and this trend is expected to continue into 2024. This decline could be hurting many adolescents as having a first job as a teenager has many benefits.

Why teen’s first jobs are important

Having a job as a teenager will instill a sense of work ethic in your child. Even if the work is markedly unrelated to what they want to do in the future, having a first job teaches responsibility and commitment. In addition to these fundamental skills, having a summer or year-round part-time job for teens can set up a foundation for future career success in many ways.

One of the most important skills a job can teach adolescents is the value of money and money management skills. When teens start making their own money, they also must come up with a plan for spending and saving, which can help them develop early budgeting skills. 

Having a job as a teen will also help them develop an idea of what they want their career to look like, or not look like. They may discover they hate retail but have an eye for business and numbers, or they may discover that they really thrive in customer service.

Lastly, finding and obtaining a job helps teens develop basic work skills such as putting together a resume, going on interviews, and cooperating with colleagues and bosses. These skills will be essential as they develop into adults, and practicing these at a younger age can help teens develop self-confidence.

Tips for helping your child be successful at his first job

Part of your teen getting her first job is developing autonomy and a sense of personal responsibility, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer support and guidance to help set her up for success. To help your teen be successful at her first job, try some of these tips:

1.) Dress the part – If your teen is picking up an application or interviewing for his first job, encourage him to dress appropriately. First impressions do matter, and showing up to an interview well-dressed rather than in pajamas will make a positive impact.

2.) Discuss professionalism – At most entry-level jobs, teens will be working closely with managers and sometimes, difficult co-workers. It’s a good idea to have conversations with your teen about conflict management and dealing with difficult coworkers professionally ahead of time, so they are better prepared to handle these situations in the moment. It can also be helpful to discuss cell-phone etiquette while on the job, including keeping her work and social media life separate.

3.) Encourage positive attitudes – There’s a good chance your teen’s first job will involve some type of customer service, and they could benefit from learning the “the customer’s always right” saying earlier rather than later. Discuss with your teen how all customers should be treated respectfully regardless of their viewpoints or demeanor.

4.) Establish a budget – Now that your teen is making money, help them create a plan for saving and spending their income. This is a chance to help your child set financial goals and increase financial literacy for the future.

BlueFire can help

BlueFire Wilderness Therapy is a premier wilderness therapy program for troubled teens struggling with emotional, social, and behavioral challenges. We utilize a comprehensive approach to teen treatment based on research and decades of experience. By combining the best of individualized clinical work, family therapy, adventure activities, and equine therapy we help adolescents make lasting changes. For more information, please call (208) 502-2326.

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