If you’ve got kids in high school, or even home from college, you may be thinking: how do I make my son or daughter get off the couch and go get a summer job?
Summer employment, besides subsidizing your child’s own expenses, can teach him or her about work ethic, social skills, discipline, financial management, and generally help prepare the way for a long and happy career in “the real world.”
Below are some pointers to help you get the ball rolling:
1. Set the expectations. The first thing you need to consider is the rationale. Is it generically good for your teen to have a job? Why, yes. But it’s important to establish your priorities for why this is important. Make sure your teen understands that this is not optional, or they may be inclined to put off the job-seeking until it’s too late. Set specific targets (3 applications a day, or a hard deadline after which you can go with a sure thing, even if it’s not the first choice).
2. Start the search early. It’s already June, so it’s time to move. Chances are with your teen’s school schedule, starting now will leave only 2-2½ months to work, which is about as short a span as anyone wants to hire for.
3. Apply gentle pressure. If there’s any foot-dragging going on, some of it may be genuine nervousness; this stuff is still new and unfamiliar, after all. Talk about it on a daily basis, but try not to nag.
4. Help put together a resume. In all likelihood your teen’s resume is thin. Think outside the box and include academic achievements, community service, and extracurricular activities. Show them how best to emphasize the desired aspects of each activity.
5. Use your own network. Don’t feel bad about asking around with your own contacts. Part of what you aim to achieve may be some self-sufficiency on your youngster’s part, but it may be more important just to get something started, and as you’ve surely learned as an adult, who you know counts as much as anything. Nepotism is underrated: being on familiar terms with your child’s boss can be reassuring, and it may actually make your child a better worker if they know your reputation’s tied up in it a little.
6. Look online. Monster.com and Craigslist are two of the most popular job-search sites for adults, but you’ll have to filter results (and be particularly cautious with the latter) to make sure the environment is suitable for a minor to work in. Never give your personal information such as your social security number online to people on Craigslists especially. You need to be very careful there. Be sure they are legitimate.
7. Meet the employer. If your child’s working for a stranger, don’t let it stay that way. Make sure that some time (preferably before the start date, but certainly during the first week), you find an excuse to stop by and shake hands with the boss.
8. Consider volunteering. If money is not the primary goal for you or your teen, volunteer work can be a great way to keep busy, build a resume, and help the world. It’s a tough job market out there, too, and it may be a good year not to sweat the whole summer-job thing too much. Plus, community service opportunities are naturally more likely to be flexible with granting time off for summer trips!