Work And School

By Amy Winter

June 10, 2011 5 min read

In most states, the legal age to get a job is 14, but that doesn't mean every 14-year-old should start filling out applications. Whether your teenager should get a job depends on the maturity of your teenager and whether it would fit into his or her school schedule.

"Parents need to be involved in the decision of whether their teen should work," says Allison Nawoj, a career adviser for CareerBuilder.com. Ultimately, it is the parents' decision if their child is mature enough to handle a part-time job along with school and extracurricular activities. Before making this decision, parents should ask themselves, Is my child a good student? Will he or she be able to take on the responsibilities of a job?

If parents and their teen decide that employment is a good idea, Alison Doyle, the About.com guide for job searching, suggests looking at the high-school guidance office for job postings, checking the newspaper's "help wanted" ads and searching on teen job search websites. Dr. Robert Wallace, a syndicated advice columnist for teens, recommends networking through friends and family or personally applying to local businesses as safer options than online job sites.

Common jobs for younger teens include baby-sitting, pet-sitting, dog walking, yardwork, shoveling driveways, household chores, errands and tutoring. For older teens, Doyle suggests camp counselor, cashier, child care assistant, a city summer jobs program, food service (fast food or restaurant), hospitality (hotels or resorts), lifeguard, retail or office assistant. Wallace adds pet stores, nursing homes and supermarkets to the teen job list.

When starting a job search, teens need to create a list of their school names, dates of attendance, extracurricular activities, personal characteristics, skills, coursework and any awards or honors they have received. Doyle recommends including involvement in organizations and volunteer experience. This information will be used in the r?sum?. To see how a r?sum? should be formatted, teens can visit websites such as myfirstpaycheck.com. Remember that the r?sum? should be proofread, as well as kept current.

Doyle provides these top teen job websites: SnagAJob.com (part-time positions and internships), CoolWorks.com (summer and seasonal jobs at camps, state parks and amusement parks), Simply Hired and http://www.usajobs.gov/studentjobs. Teens also can use job search engines, such as Monster and CareerBuilder, and even Facebook. Nawoj says CareerBuilder offers CareerRookie.com as a part-time and entry-level job website for guidance when first entering the workforce. Be sure to maintain a persistent attitude, follow up on your applications, use personal connections from your network and be flexible when it comes to hours when you are available, says Doyle.

Now that the job search has started, it is time to brush up your teen on interviewing skills. Wallace recommends instructing your teen to remain relaxed, be honest and remember to bring his or her r?sum?. Doyle's No. 1 rule is to dress appropriately. To make a positive impression, teens should avoid putting on everyday clothes that they wear when hanging out with friends. They should come prepared with their paperwork, be polite, arrive on time and ask questions.

Teen employment has many positives, such as learning responsibility, punctuality, dependability and how to be a team player. Nawoj says employment teaches teens how to interact with people of all ages. Colleen Madden, media relations manager at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, believes that teens will get a taste of the real world and learn time management skills.

And Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, a syndicated finance columnist, thinks employment helps teens learn about money and how to become better savers. Teens can gain a sense of accomplishment by helping to save for college.

"I'm all in favor of after-school employment for teens if it is a good learning experience, is in a safe environment and does not interfere with academics or extracurricular activities," Wallace says. "I had an after-school job as a teen -- delivering newspapers. And it provided me the opportunity to be an independent 'business man.'"

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