How Parents Can Help Their Teenagers Prepare for Summer Work

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student working in a cafe

Encouraging your teenager to work over the summer isn’t just about helping them make money (although that does have its advantages too). Assisting them in finding a summer job is about encouraging them to gain useful skills and develop experience that will help them build good character qualities and progress in their future career.

According to a 2015 survey carried out by U.S careers website, the most important characteristic employers look for in summer employees is a positive attitude (40%), followed by schedule flexibility (23%), commitment to work the whole summer (19%) and previous experience (18%).

So, whether or not your teenager has any work experience or not, having the right attitude can make all the difference when it comes to securing their first summer job.

Helping with the job search

As a parent, it’s important not to put too much pressure on your teenager when it comes to job searching. We all know how laborious job hunting can feel at times and how it can knock our confidence if we don’t receive any replies. It’s important that you frame their job searching efforts as a learning process and encourage them to take rejection on the chin.

On the other hand, we all know what teenagers can be like, and there’s nothing wrong with giving them a gentle nudge towards getting the ball rolling. When it comes to helping with the job search, it’s important to set your teenager’s expectations about the type of work they can apply for as their first summer job.

Of course, it’s great to have ambition and maybe sending off that application to NASA will prove fruitful, but just in case, some of the options they might want to consider include:

  • Restaurants
  • Cinemas and theatres
  • Warehouses and factories
  • Clothes/retail shops
  • Call centres
  • Leisure centres
  • Stewarding at events

Of course, if money isn’t the principal motivator for your teenager taking on a summer job, it may also be worth looking into volunteering. According to a report released by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), more than 65% of bosses agree that people who have volunteering experience are more employable.

Similarly, securing an internship can give teenagers invaluable first-hand experience of what’s it’s like to work in a specific industry.

Don't forget to prepare them for the job interview, particularly if they've never done one before. Here's our list of things to do and things not to in an interview and some great tips for succeeding on the big day.

Set their expectations of working life

Everyone has their own idea of what working life will be like, sometimes expectations are met and other times things turn out to be completely different from what you had expected.

It can help to have a conversation with your teenager about what it’s like to work over the summer holidays and what might be expected of them in their job. The more prepared your teenager feels before starting their job, the better equipped they’ll be to deal with any issues that might arise.

Everyone makes mistakes when they start their first job and it’s normal to expect there to be a few hiccups along the way. By encouraging your teenager to look for the learning points in every situation, they’ll quickly adapt to their role and become more confident in taking on new challenges and interacting with people.

Have the ‘money talk’ before pay day comes

Taking on a summer job means learning how to manage money. If your teenager hasn’t worked before, it may take some time before they get used to budgeting. We recommend creating a simple income and expenses spreadsheet with your teenager. This will give them a visual representation of how much money they are earning and what overheads they need to cover first before they can spend it on other things.

It can also be useful to think about what they money will be used for other than socializing. For example, if your teenager intends on going to university, could some of their earnings go towards saving for their first year? Or perhaps they’re approaching the age where they’d like to learn how to drive. Could part of their money be used to go towards paying for driving lessons?

Having a financial plan in place before they receive their first pay cheque can help ensure that they spend their earnings wisely.

Encourage a healthy work/life balance

Having a healthy work/life balance is something that everyone should aspire to and it shouldn’t be any different for teenagers. Working over the summer as a student clearly has many benefits but unless they have the right balance between work and down time, the experience of working can soon wear thin.

Many employers take on students over the summer months because they’re extra busy and they often offer extra hours, weekend work and late shifts. Although it can be tempting for teenagers to take every shift that’s going, in the long-run, the only benefit they’ll see is more money.

If teenagers spend all their time working, when will they have the time to enjoy their earnings?

As a parent, it’s important to be aware of the signs that your teenager is over-working. Although the job may only be temporary, there still needs to be a healthy balance. Some of the signs to look out for include:

  • Constant tiredness
  • Disrupted sleeping pattern
  • No longer socializing
  • Change in eating habits
  • Overly-stressed out
  • Drained appearance

Once the summer is over, your teenager may have the option to continue working with the company. If this is the case, and they’re still studying at school or university, it’s important to make them aware that their studies need to come first.

Of course, working while studying can be a good way to finance their time at school or university, but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of their grades. For more advice on striking a work/study balance, check out our post How to Balance Work and Study as a Student.

What advice do you have for parents in helping their teenagers prepare for summer work? Do you have any job searching tips that you’d like to share?

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