Your teen’s schedule is already filled to bursting with sports practices, homework for advanced classes, and—of course—enrichment activities that will supposedly “make her look good on college applications.” Your family has plenty of money to provide this girl everything she wants without her having to work for it. Should you just forget about the idea of her getting a high school part-time job?
Here are three reasons why you might want to cheerfully give your teen an allowance that just barely covers her most basic expenses, ask her to cover all her own costs out of that, and in doing so help her to get hungry for part-time work.
3 reasons every teen needs some part-time employment experience:
1. The paying job is one of the fastest, most effective ways to teach a teen to use a calendar.
How else will your son keep track of the random odd work shifts usually assigned to teenagers? He may only learn the importance of a calendar by having a fast food manager fly into a red-faced tirade at his accidentally missing a work shift.
Using a calendar is one of the straightest, most direct routes to academic success in college. In general, students who use a calendar in college succeed. Those who don’t, flounder.
Best to learn the discipline of using a calendar early on. The part-time job is a great motivator for that.
2. The paying job helps a teen begin to develop what experts call “professional confidence.”
In my recent post about the importance of the 20s I wrote emphatically about how important it is that students get practice early on stepping out into the world of work: interacting with customers, managers, and sometimes tedious or stressful work requirements that require focus, concentration, and discipline.
Where does that start? In many cases it starts with stocking shelves, bagging groceries, and bringing shopping carts back from the parking lot.
3. The paying job lays the foundation for later “mastery experiences.”
Is your son going to run a multinational corporation one day? I hope his first step in that direction won’t be an acceptance to Yale; I hope his first step toward that goal will be mopping behind the counter at the local Dairy Queen. It’s in teenage part-time jobs that a lifetime of workplace confidence takes its first breath.
Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—and How to Make the Most of Them Now, puts it this way:
“People feel less anxious—and more confident—on the inside when they can point to things they have done well on the outside. Fake confidence comes from stuffing our self-doubt. Empty confidence comes from parental platitudes on our lunch hour. Real confidence comes from mastery experiences, which are actual, lived moments of success, especially when things seem difficult.”
I want teens to start accumulating those experiences early on, by doing humble work.
BONUS REASON #4. The paying job helps a teen to grasp the concept of “the rhythm of the day.”
In his November 25th, 2015 Washington Post article Why more teenagers and college students need to work while in school, Jeffrey J. Selingo writes this:
“A job teaches young people how to see a rhythm to the day, especially the types of routine work teenagers tend to get. It’s where they learn the importance of showing up on time, keeping to a schedule, completing a list of tasks, and being accountable to a manager who might give them their first dose of negative feedback so they finally realize they’re not as great as their teachers, parents, and college acceptance letters have led them to believe.”
Besides all this, research shows that students who work while going to school get higher grades than students who don’t.
That’s a good reason to get a part-time job!
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And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, author, speaker, and podcast host. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.