The summer of ’98:: no, not a Bryan Adams song, but the year I turned 16 and got my first job. That first taste of independence, self sufficiency, and retail discounts. Sure, I had babysat for my neighbors for years, but this was different. I was going to be earning real money, a pay check, clocking in and out for time well spent.
I was always a bit of a bookworm, so getting a job at Barnes and Nobles in the 90’s was a dream. A Starbucks inside the store, rows and rows of new books, CD’s in the back of the store, and fun novelty gift books at the front.
I lasted 6 months.
What began as a summer job, when I had lots of free time, became a fall job. I liked the extra money, but I soon figured out that making just above minimum wage and having Mr. FICA take half my earnings wasn’t covering much more than my copy of Memoirs of a Geisha and A venti frap. Plus, it was my junior year of high school. Working Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays didn’t leave much time for weekend studies for AP classes, social events, or even family time.
My mother believed that having a part time job was more for character building than fortune building and she was correct. She understood my needs and my talents and helped me find another more suitable job. Soon after I was employed as a receptionist at a Montessori School in our neighborhood. A perfect after-school job only, no weekends! A job that I enjoyed so much, where I learned so much, and one in which I worked throughout my last few high school years and every summer until I graduated college.
20 something years later my son and many of his friends are all looking for summer jobs that will help them buy cars, pay for insurance, and for the little extras and independence that summer jobs offer. It is not easy finding summer jobs for teens these days. The workforce and economy is struggling as it is. Most managers and business owners want committed employees, and they deserve to have that, but let’s face it, most high schoolers cannot be that committed to a part-time job. That’s why it is part time; it’s not that they don’t want to be committed, but in 2021, most high schoolers have lots, if not too many, other commitments.
My son’s summer has been taken over by football camp, working on summer school packets, and now, work. Taking his schedule into consideration is new for me and has taken a bit getting use to. As his mom, I have had to manage our summer vacations, camps, and day trips around his schedule. Thankfully, he is working for his grandfather, so the flexibility has been very gracious.
I desire my children to learn the value of hard work and responsibility, but it is hard to find those jobs that will be gracious with summer plans full of sports and camps and family time. What I have learned is that parents who help their children be creative with their time and talents and who invest in the desires of their children to have a job and make some extra money and still be able to enjoy their time are the most successful in finding the best jobs for and with their teens.
How to find Summer Jobs your Teens can Thrive In
Consider your Teen’s Talents and Gifts::
A few years ago a friend’s daughter was in need of work to help pay for some of her dance competitions. Half her summer was filled with competitions and preparing for fall dance, so a retail job wasn’t easy to attain. Instead, she made up a flyer which her mother posted all over her social media. This talented teen dancer began a small business where she would be hired for birthday parties where she would teach dance routines at the party to the girls’ favorite songs!
Think about what your kids know to do, are talented and gifted in and get creative with them. Do they excel in school? Could they offer tutoring to students throughout the year? Do they make jewelry? Maybe they sew or cook and could put on a few “camps”? I know two teens who sold “water balloon parties” during the summer. They would fill laundry baskets with water balloons and deliver them to the parties, and then come back and help with the clean up.
Consider who You Know::
I know none of us love the idea of nepotism, but when it comes to our kids and their summer jobs, I am more than willing to get off my high horse and consider who we know. The best jobs are those with people who know and want to help our kids. Those who remember what it is like to be a teen and who can provide grace filled work that will teach them so much more than they will actually make.
Who do you know who owns a business or may need some help during this time? One parent I know has a friend who owns a farm and obtained a job for his animal loving son. He goes in after football practice daily and feeds the animals and mucks the barn and does whatever odd jobs are needed. I know another friend who know the owner of a pool company. Their kid now has a job cleaning pools in the afternoon. Another mother found a job for her teen as a mother’s helper:: the teen is in charge of entertaining and watching the children while the mother works from home. Help you teens out by introducing them to who you know.
Don’t Forget about the Classic Summer Jobs::
There is always mowing lawns, babysitting, dog walking and so many more. I know one teen who started mowing two lawns when he was 14. By the time he was 16. he had over 25 yards and enough money to hire a friend and purchase a gorgeous, used Ford Truck! I know another who just began his own power-washing business and goes around the neighborhood power washing the driveways. That is good hard earned work!
As parents of teens we are still constantly training, motivating and coaching. When our teens get their first job, it can sometimes make our jobs a bit harder. The new experiences, the hard work, meeting new people and making mistakes are all a part of the growing up process and worth morn than every dollar they earn. But they still need us. They may need help getting the jobs, keeping the jobs and learning the ropes of growing up.
Be on their side. Be for them. Celebrate those first checks, first payments, first big purchases. Help them set goals and achieve them, then CELEBRATE. That’s the best part of parenting!