Nov 22, 2010

Should Your Teen Have a Job? (Carole)

Janssen's last post about buying your teenager a car, brought up the subject of teenagers working during their high school years.  My goodness there were some very strong opinions of this subject!  So, of course, I'm going to bring it up again and really get those strong feelings flowing.

As Janssen mentioned, high school jobs are mandatory at our house.  I remember spotting the "Help Wanted" sign in the local Cold Stone ice cream shop and telling Janssen about it when she was just turning 16.  A few days later, she girded up her loins and marched in to ask for a job application.  Despite the fact that she probably looked 13 years old, they hired her -- and eventually Merrick, Landen and just about every other friend they had!  She was the gateway employee for probably a dozen kids this Cold Stone store hired during the next 2 years.

The girls ended up holding a number of different jobs during their high school years including regular babysitting gigs, early morning paper route, ice skating sink guard and instructor, working in their dad's dental office doing some assisting/front desk/errands (endless errands)/computer /janitorial work, and who could forget  J's short, but painful stint at the Krispy Kreme donut shop?

My own lack of work experience during my high school years was what convinced me that a job was a good thing.    Like many of you, my parents told me that my schooling was my job  (even though both of my older siblings had held jobs as teens -- not sure why I was different).  Me, being somewhat lazy and a also bit fearful of new experiences, didn't complain.  I did live up to my end of this bargain and earned myself a full-ride scholarship to the university of my choice -- however,  I lost it after my first year.   I also didn't work while attending college.

Later, I felt these decisions put me at a huge disadvantage in a number of ways:

* It took me a very long time to build up any substantial savings in my personal account 
* I  had to depend on my parents for most of my spending money & living expenses
* I didn't have a clear sense of what money was worth for many years
* No experience with co-workers and a boss
* No job interview experience
* No work experience as a 20 year old
* No resume

I was determined that my children would have a different experience.  And they did.  I think they would all say that their work experiences during high school were as valuable to them as anything they learned in a classroom.  (They can feel free to comment on this.)  Each of them continued to be excellent students, learned some real life and financial lessons, entered college with thousands of dollars saved away, and had very impressive resumes.


Kimberly F. said...

Amen to all of this.

Katie said...

I worked in high school by necessity and think that in the long run it did great things for me. I wasn't really building up savings as I needed the money for personal and school expenses, but I gained experience and confidence that helped me when seeking my next job. I had to miss a lot of social things in high school, but given after parties for most of these events it was probably a good thing. As I was only working 8-16 hours a week and only on Fridays and Saturdays, my job never interfered with my ability to participate in the school clubs/sports/plays that I wanted to participate in and it never hurt my ability to do well on an assignment. As for my (future) children, I imagine that we will encourage them to at least get jobs in the summer, if not a very part-time job year round.

Amy said...

I worked at a restaurant through high school, while taking several AP classes each year, playing softball and soccer, competing on the debate team and being involved in several after school clubs. I didn't think that working distracted from the other things at all. If anything, it made me feel productive and, if you're like me, FEELING productive is half the battle of actually being productive. I loved that little job.

Because my hometown is near Provo, where I attended BYU, I was able to keep the job through college. I still consider that job one of the greatest blessings of my high school, college and young married life.

Madame Coin said...

As a teen I taught piano lessons, and in the summers did stints as a nanny and as a receptionist, and the lessons were invaluable! But my working during the school year was limited to one afternoon a week.

I did not build significant savings, but I ended up using most of my money to fund major trips like EFY, two-week dance camp, etc.

It's a great way to learn better time management skills, certainly.

Steph said...

Thank goodness Janssen worked at Cold Stone. Otherwise, I never would have met her!!

amber waves of grain said...

I had to have a summer job when I was in high school, but not during the school year. Luckily the food stand where I worked was open April-October. It was great for paying bills and saving money. Great experience-- I am sure our kids will have jobs-- although dad will have them doing farm chores long before they are old enough to be hired by anyone else.

Carly said...

As a teenager I had summer jobs, but not a real during-school job until the second half of my senior year. I was very grateful to not have worked during the previous high school time. But as I mentioned in my last comment, I was also very conscientious of the amount of money my parents paid out for me, and didn't ask for much extra. My sister just older than me didn't do as many high school extra curricular activities and got a job earlier. While we were both in high school, she paid for most of our gas and paid for almost all her own "spending money."

In college I insisted on getting a job and paying my own way for everything (which I did--and couldn't have done without a scholarship). I worked full time (temp jobs) in the summers and part time during the school year. I feel really strongly that college students should AT LEAST work part time and not depend on their parents. I close my eyes to my two younger brothers who have not worked at all during college (one plays baseball for the school and my parents justify this as his "part time job"--I don't agree... at least when it comes to off seasons!).

Anyhow, although I didn't consistently during high school, I definitely felt the summer jobs and the job I got at the end of my senior year helped. And I feel strongly that kids should work through college. I think it is often a case-by-case issue--depending on the child and what they can handle and their attitude about money falling off the "parent money tree."

Chelsea said...

And I thank Janssen for walking in there too! I loved working at Cold Stone (only worked there for a few months).
I think that those in high school should have experience of working. I think it teaches them so much! I think that they specifically need a job that they have to go out and apply for and interview for. I remember being so scared to do that, but after I did that once, I felt more comfortable doing that with all of my jobs in college.
I didn't work much in high school, but did get a little bit of experience (I only had one summer while I was in hs that I was 16, then I went straight to college). Cold Stone, dad's office, babysitting, etc.

Chelsea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kayla Moncur said...

I honestly don't think I could have handled a job and my parents didn't push one on me. I took a heavy course load and was usually pretty overwhelmed with school work. My sister did have a job though and was even able to get school credit for it, so it worked out well for her. I think for some people it works and some people it doesn't!

Tianna said...

I babysat most of my high school career. When I turned 16 (summer before my Junior year) I started working for American Greetings, which was great because it was really flexible. I mostly worked Saturdays for a few hours, then helped with big revisions when needed (which would take up to 8 hours at a time). After I graduated I got a job waitressing and when I started college I was still doing American Greetings, waitressing, then got a job as a math grader. Three jobs took its toll and I ended up quitting AG, but stuck with the other two for most of my associates degree.

I worked all the time for the rest of my college career. (Minus 2 months where I couldn't get a job.) I even took a semester off to work. (I treated my freshman year like high school and lost my scholarship. I spent most of my college days working my tail off trying to get it back.) I worked up until my baby was born and am very grateful that I did.

I fully plan on my children having jobs. Even if they're only very part time. Even if they are working for me. I will definitely take each child's situations into consideration, but I am a firm believer that every teenager should know how to work and manage money.

Erin said...

I worked at Chick-fil-a (fast food restaurant, for those not lucky enough to have that deliciousness near you!) and it was such a wonderful job! It taught me so much about responsibility, but they were also very flexible with my school and sports schedule. I worked there up until after I was married, and I still look at that job as one of the best ones I've ever had! My parents bought me a clunker when I was 16, as I was the last child in the house, and they paid for my insurance, but I had to buy gas and make my own spending money. I think I'll want my kids to work at least during the summers when they are old enough, but who knows? A lot can change between now and then!

Brandi said...

This is likely not typical results, but in my family, we had me (who worked - A LOT - in high school) and my younger brother (who didn't work at all - he played sports).

Fast forward. By age 20, I had been a business owner for 2 years, was paying for everything except car insurance (rent, utilities, luxuries, cell phone, pets, etc.) and a full time college student with a 3.94 GPA. Engaged to a man I had been with since we started high school and planning a wedding (much of which we were paying for).

By age 20, my brother is struggling to keep his scholarships (he's very intelligent, just very distracted), works part-time at a grocery store (with much complaint), cannot manage money, doesn't pay for anything except entertainment and gas for his car, and is in a relationship with someone who makes very bad choices.

I honestly believe that had he learned to be more accountable prior to college, he would have made better choices. Even having a small job, just to gain some understanding of money and responsibility, is incredibly important. Our future children will be working as teens.

Anonymous said...

I'm still not convinced...

I think that there are ways to encourage your children to save money (I had a huge chunk of savings before I left for college) and learn the value of money without having a part-time job in high school. Maybe I say that because I feel like I'm now pretty frugal and I didn't have a "reguar" job. I did do some after-school tutoring (paying really well) and babysitting (also paying really well--we wouldn't take jobs for less than $10 an hour).

I also was encouraged to NOT have a job my freshman year of college which I think was great for me. I would encourage my kids to do the same thing to really get your feet into college and figure out how it all works (with the crazy socialness of freshman year too).

I also had no problem getting a job after my freshman year because a lot of colleges offer positions especially to people who don't have a lot of work experience so you can build that up.

I think you can easily do it both ways. I'm just grateful I never had to build an after school job into my schedule of after school activities when I was so stressed with my many classes anyway. I do think that school should be the number one "job" at a high schooler's age...not an after-school job. I guess I just had too many friends who put more time into "making money" in high school than "earning good grades" and it came back to bite them.

Melissa said...

Absolutely agree! It teaches teens fiscal and personal responsibility. When teens move away to college at 18, they believe they're adults and ready to take on the world. At least with the personal interactions and responsibilities a job brings, they have a slightly better understanding of the world.

Becca said...

My parents know I feel this way, but I feel that they did me a HUGE disservice by not encouraging/requiring me to work in high school. I was a busy, busy kid - lots of choirs and piano stuff and tennis and student council, but the busier you are, the more productive you are. Generally we believe the myth that having fewer things on your plate results in better results in those few things, when sometimes it's just not true. Especially when you're a teenager. Having fewer things on your plate results in more play time.

I babysat occasionally and taught a few piano lessons in high school, and I went to college having never had a job, and without having applied for one scholarship because I knew that my grandpa was paying for it. (just writing that out and admitting it hurts my hands) He did that because he wanted all his grandchildren to have a college education without having to work (in other words, MAKING college the job). But with few exceptions, ALL of his grandchildren have squandered this precious inheritance. It makes me ill to think about it. Two of my sisters, one cousin, and I are the ONLY ones that actually finished college and worked for a long time.

I had a long chat with myself my junior year of college, started doing the math of what I had been spending of my grandpa's hard-earned money, and sort of freaked out. I got a job at a gym which didn't pay much, but it taught me a lot about work ethic (having to be at work at 5 AM will do that!) and an idea of the value of money. I wasn't encouraged to do it, though. I sort of sought it out for myself.

Now that I am a full-time nurse, I feel like I am finally starting to appreciate the value of a dollar, and learn lessons about budgeting that I should have learned LONG ago. I KNOW I won't make the same mistake with my children!!

Cortney said...

There is no reason why a teenager can't have at least a very part time job- say, 10 hours on weekends- and there is REALLY no reason why they can't work during the summer. I worked full time every. single. summer. from the age of 14 years old on. I had to pay for my own school clothes, school supplies, cheerleading uniforms, prom dresses, etc. etc. I would work hard every summer, save as much as I could, buy my necessities for the next year, and then divvy up the rest into a monthly allowance. During the school year I was in varsity cheerleading, track, one act play, and UIL, so I couldn't have held a daily after school job, but I did work weekends when opportunities arose- but mostly it was my hard work over the summers, and my budgeting, that got me through the school year. I also purchased my first car, in cash, as soon as I turned 16. My parents paid for insurance and gas, and I lived with my mom, but other than that I paid for everything else myself- even down to my own graduation invitations and photographs.

I absolutely believe in the importance of working during one's teen years. I am eternally grateful to my father for requiring that of me, because it was easy for me to work full time and go to under grad and graduate school full time, because I knew how to balance work/life. It is ridiculous and sad to me that people graduate college at the age of 22 having never had a job.

Cortney said...

And regarding jobs harming academics- even with my weekend work during the school year that I would pick up I graduated valedictorian and entered college with a full scholarship having already completed 18 hours of college course work thanks to dual enrollment offered at my high school. I really strongly think that having a job helps kids be *more* productive and structure their time.

Maggie said...

I just stumbled onto this site and am devouring all of these handy posts. This particular post, however, gives me serious cause to reflect. Is it lame to comment on an archived post? Maybe. Will I do it? You bet. In high school, I was not allowed to have a job besides teaching harp lessons. My parents encouraged me (OFTEN) to not "paint for bread" too soon. But like Carole, I was cautious of new experiences and did not push these boundaries. And in a small town, how many harp students could there POSSIBLY be? Even slimmer was the bracket of parents who would pay an arm and a leg for the instrument and then entrust their children to a 16-year-old instructor. Laughable, really.
Sooooo, I went to college with about 60 hours of work experience under my belt. When I insisted it was time to get a job, and applied for a campus janitorial job, my dad called me, frantically promising me that I didn't have to reduce myself to such menial labor, and that they would find money to send me. But I took it, and it was the best decision I could have made. My grades got better, and I garnered even better academic scholarships. This job also gave me the confidence I needed to apply for a job as a teacher's assistant months later --a feat of which I had not previously thought I was capable. So many life lessons I could have learned earlier. I could go on.