Your teen’s summer job

Image of newspaper and summer jobs

Your teen’s first summer job


Do you remember your first summer job?  Mine was at a family-owned produce store where my job was to rotate the fruit and listen to inappropriate and unsolicited advice from the patriarch. Advice such as “You should never become an alcoholic because you have an addictive personality.”

I was 19. I didn’t even know who I was, and this grumpy old man was giving me life advice? I had no idea what he was talking about. All I knew was that I didn’t feel particularly good during or after that conversation. I also knew that I couldn’t wait to leave that job.

We can all recount horror stories throughout our working lives. As a parent you want to see your child succeed. So whether your child is itching to get their first ever job or if they are dreading finding their first summer job, here are some tips to help you help your child.

Lead with Strengths

The fundamental element in any career development journey is self-awareness. I read somewhere that all jobs are about solving problems. You just need to determine what kind of problems you want to solve; people, things or information. Consider your child’s strengths. Does she enjoy listening to people and helping them with their problems? Is he a hands-on kind of guy who excels at picking up a tool and building or repairing something? Or is she someone who is comfortable working with computers and code and programing?

Think of their personality. Some of us can work well under pressure and would work well in a fast-paced environment such as Starbucks. Other people may feel anxiety when faced with the same situation. Listen to your child. If the mere mention of a restaurant makes her anxious, understand that may not be the best place for her.


Know What’s Out There

Back in the day we could open up the want ads and find at least half a dozen jobs to apply for. Those days are gone. Now, people are expected to find a job by checking job boards and applying on line. In the most dehumanizing way, job seekers don’t even have the chance to drop off their resumes in person anymore. If they do attempt the socially appropriate way that we used to do, they are met with a curt “apply online”. This leaves the job seeker to go back to the online application and send it to the black hole of the internet.

But there are ways around this. Your teen can tap into the hidden job market – the place where about 80% of jobs are NOT advertised. The hidden job market is all around us. Your friends, your neighbours, your teen’s friend’s parents, the members of the groups that you belong to, your faith institution, your friend’s friends…the list is truly endless.

The bottom line is to lead with their strengths. If you have a friend who has an office job available, but you know your child is a hands-on kind of person, that’s not the right fit.

You know fit? That feeling that you are working in an environment you enjoy, sharing common goals and vision with a strong team while doing something that fulfils you. Wouldn’t you want your child to find that same right fit?

How to Get There

After the kids figure out their strengths and hear about opportunities, they need to be able to apply for these jobs.

Resumes, cover letters and interviews are integral aspects of job searching that no one really enjoys. Teens can find it especially challenging if they have no job experience. There are some great resources to assist your teen craft effective job search documents and even practice mock interviews to help them prepare for success.  For years Employment Ontario has provided resources and opportunities for youth seeking their first summer jobs.

Feel free to connect with Puddle Jump Coaching for more information, advice and tips for young adults as they launch their independent lives. Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook…all sorts of social media!

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