Thursday, 30 June 2016

Jobs for the kids

It's been one of my paradoxical parenting dilemmas. Allowing my kids to have a childhood where they don't have to grow up too soon in age when they're inevitably exposed to all sorts of ideas, issues and imagery, whilst trying to nurture competent human beings who will be able to look after themselves and find their way in the big wide world.

At their age, I'd already started my first part-time job: serving and clearing up afternoon tea, and laundry wrangling, in an old people's home. At the time it was all about the cash, and I certainly appreciated the value of money more when I'd earned it through my own hard work, but the benefits were wider than that: learning to get along with all sorts of people, time-keeping, responsibility. The sort of thing you roll your eyes at when you're a teenager, but which sound very appealing as qualities you'd want in your children.

These days it seems to harder to come by a small part-time job in your mid-teens. Perhaps it's all the elfin safety and safeguarding that never existed back in the 80s.  So it was a cause for celebration when the 15 year old finally bagged herself a babysitting gig, with others lined up. We took the precaution of re-reading Shirley Hughes' An Evening at Alfie's, in which the capable Maureen MacNally is faced with a burst pipe whilst babysitting Alfie and Annie Rose. Fortunately there were no such mishaps and daughter came back having grown a little in confidence, and happy to be £12 the richer.


Image result for Maureen MacNally babysitting Shirley Hughes
Maureen MacNally mopping up...

Anyone with older kids, I'd love to hear how easy or hard they found it to get work and what sorts of jobs are out there. What does the teenage job career ladder look like? Is it all about the globalised market of the multinational chains these days, or are there alternatives?

19 comments:

  1. It does seem to be much harder for teenagers to get jobs these days. Supermarket/retail work seems to be still available but it depends where you live as to whether this is feasible. I saw a job advertised the other day and thought what a perfect job for a teenager but cannot for the life of me remember what it was!

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    1. Yes, I think that's a good option when they're a bit older.

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  2. The teenagers at our church all seem to have jobs in fast food outlets. I would have hated that myself!

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    1. Me too...and I also endorse Jo's comment below...

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  3. I've seen that Alfie book, but haven't read it. I'm going to have to because I did have a plumbing flood once when I was babysitting as a teen. I handled it okay, but I needed more experience because I didn't know about turning off the water to the house.

    Good luck to your teens in finding a job. For my kids, it was very much a function of the economy. When they were that age, jobs were scarce. My kids started with pet sitting and yard work for the neighbors. Eventually, they had jobs at a grocery store and a park after school and in the summer.

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    1. Glad Shirley Hughes books are heard of in the US. I like the sound of the job in the park.

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  4. Hi Sarah,
    You know my daughters are 21 years old. At age 18 they had such a hard time finding a summer job. Before then, they babysat. My daughters had a long list of volunteer work that they'd done over the high school years. But none of that seemed to matter when looking for what you'd think to be a teen job, working fast food. There were quite a few older people looking for work and would take fast food, at the time my daughters had little paid work experience. They didn't land a paying job until we found a connection through our church. After submitting dozens of applications, they were only offered this one job, through this connection. As it turned out, it's been a good thing. It's housekeeping on their university campus, in summers. It's hard, physical work. And nearly a 2-hour bus commute, each way. But they were absolutely grateful to land any job after weeks of submitting applications with no offers. (Both daughters worked the last 3 summers in this same position, and one daughter still works there, while the other daughter landed a job closer to her field of interest in children's theater.)
    My son's first paying job was also through a connection, when he was 17 years old.

    So, I would say, tap all of your resources, friends, friends of your husband's, friends of friends, anyone who might be in the position to hire student-age employees, to do restaurant work, housekeeping work, running errands, girl Friday (that was my sister's first job, girl Friday for an office, again through a connection, friend's of my parents), gardening, grounds keeping and clean-up crews, assistant camp counselors at day camps. It's usually not very glamorous work, for teens, but it's a start. And once they have had that first paying job, it seems to be so much easier to land other jobs.

    My first job, when I was 16 (after babysitting) was restaurant work. Lovely, I smelled like grease, 24/7, for an entire summer. My second summer job, when I was 17, was as a nanny.

    Good luck to your daughter!

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    1. From several comments here, I can see it's all about the networking! Thanks for sharing your experience Lili!

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  5. Hi Sarah,
    You know my daughters are 21 years old. At age 18 they had such a hard time finding a summer job. Before then, they babysat. My daughters had a long list of volunteer work that they'd done over the high school years. But none of that seemed to matter when looking for what you'd think to be a teen job, working fast food. There were quite a few older people looking for work and would take fast food, at the time my daughters had little paid work experience. They didn't land a paying job until we found a connection through our church. After submitting dozens of applications, they were only offered this one job, through this connection. As it turned out, it's been a good thing. It's housekeeping on their university campus, in summers. It's hard, physical work. And nearly a 2-hour bus commute, each way. But they were absolutely grateful to land any job after weeks of submitting applications with no offers. (Both daughters worked the last 3 summers in this same position, and one daughter still works there, while the other daughter landed a job closer to her field of interest in children's theater.)
    My son's first paying job was also through a connection, when he was 17 years old.

    So, I would say, tap all of your resources, friends, friends of your husband's, friends of friends, anyone who might be in the position to hire student-age employees, to do restaurant work, housekeeping work, running errands, girl Friday (that was my sister's first job, girl Friday for an office, again through a connection, friend's of my parents), gardening, grounds keeping and clean-up crews, assistant camp counselors at day camps. It's usually not very glamorous work, for teens, but it's a start. And once they have had that first paying job, it seems to be so much easier to land other jobs.

    My first job, when I was 16 (after babysitting) was restaurant work. Lovely, I smelled like grease, 24/7, for an entire summer. My second summer job, when I was 17, was as a nanny.

    Good luck to your daughter!

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  6. I share your ethical dilemma about fast food outlet jobs. If I won't eat there, why would I send my kids there to learn how to be the lowest cogs in a system I don't approve of? Obviously, needs must, but I think best avoided if possible. My kids have all done baby sitting and pet sitting/feeding, and then the networking starts. It really is about who you know. There are many small businesses who appreciate a hard-working junior, but they don't like to take risks, so better someone they know. Ask around, especially friends' businesses or the small shops you visit regularly. My friends' kids work as waitresses, pharmacy assistants, vet clinic cage cleaners, green grocer packers and serving staff and filing clerks and medical admin for various local businesses.

    My son 'inherited' the farm hand job that his best buddy had to leave to go to uni. When my friends started a private medical practice I begged for a gap year job for my 18 year old. She started as assistant to the lung function technician, then when the technician left, she stepped into the role! They loved her so much they didn't want to let her go off to uni, but she then arranged for two of her friends at the local uni working towards science degrees to now share her old job.

    If your husband could train up your kids at that fabulous local bike shop he is involved in, then they will have another marketable skill. One of my son's friends went to Nepal in his gap year and volunteered in a bike shop mending bikes in Kathmandu for board and keep.

    It's all about being creative and putting your kids in the way of opportunity. Mine all worked for friends' parents as well - doing yard work, spring cleaning, building rock walls, harvesting on an organic walnut farm. Creative odd jobbing is a wonderful way to expand skills and confidence. And of course, whenever I need simple jobs done, I employ my kids and their friends as well. I pay them junior award rates which of course is much cheaper than handyman rates, and they get a few hours work, win, win:)

    Ooh, just thought of another category of teenage jobs - exploiting a talent. One of my 16yo daughter's friends is a very dedicated ballerina and now assists teaching the 'babies'. My son's ex-girlfriend, now studying at the conservatorium taught piano and flute to beginners during year 11 and 12. Two other teenagers I know work in an after school art program. The secret is ask, ask, ask until you find a niche your poppets can uniquely fill..

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    1. Networking and creative odd jobbing and exploiting their talents. Useful advice! Thanks for your long reply Jo! And yes, my son is acquiring some bicycle maintenance skills at the shop - daughter not so keen.

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  7. My granddaughter washed pots at a local restaurant when she was 15, she also did all sorts of voluntary work, which eventually led to a "proper" job, which in turn has led to a career in the Fire Service.

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    1. We've been trying to encourage my Daughter to do some voluntary work, but she's at that age where she doesn't want to take our advice on anything much...That sounds a great career progression for your granddaughter.

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  8. All mine have worked and were lucky to do so. Paper rounds, then a local Cafe, Pizza Hut, local bakery, summer play schemes. Food mostly seems to be a theme? Now all working in good jobs and all very good with people - must have been that customer service training!

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    1. I think you're right that all that experience will have helped their people skills. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  9. I know that Alfie book was written in the days before mobile phones etc, but why does no-one think to go and inform that parents that their house is flooded? #WorstBabysitterEver

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    1. Nah bruv, if I'd been Alfie and Annie-Roses's parents, I'd have been happy to carry on with my evening out leaving the disaster safely in the MacNallys' hands. I think there's a line in the book: "One of the things Maureen wanted to be when she left school, was a plumber", and both Maureen's parents are soon on the scene as back up! :-)

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  10. My son worked for a few hours every Saturday in Oxfam to get retail experience and genuinely because he likes doing voluntary work before he was 16. He had a paper round too. Now works for a retail company that are known for treating their staff well in between studying for A levels. He's enjoying it so much that he's increased his hours on his deferred year before he heads off to uni hopefully. Arilx

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    1. That's great - we've also encouraged my daughter to volunteer in our local Oxfam shop but as above, she's not keen on our helpful parental advice...

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