One of the most important things my parents taught me when I was young, was self reliance. At the time, I hated them for it because I thought having a job before I was in college was stupid. Anything I wanted should be provided for by them and rather than earn money on my own, I was content with watching TV and playing baseball in the street. You know … normal kids stuff.
Having a job when I was young provided me with knowledge and information I could only learn on my own. If you’re considering getting your son or daughter a job while they’re in elementary or high school, here are a few pros:
- You’ll teach your children about the value of money at a young age. Yes, this can be done with an allowance and a variety of other methods but when a kid makes money on their own, I guarantee you they’ll appreciate it more. Kids can start to save money in a bank account, earn interest and better prepare themselves for life outside of home.
- Jobs keep kids active, so you won’t have to worry about getting them to leave the TV set. Most jobs that can be obtained by kids are highly active so not only will they earn money, but they’ll also receive a good dose of exercise.
- The last pro I have for kids obtaining jobs is that they’ll learn a skill set that could help them later in life. Now perhaps my knowledge of a Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese isn’t extremely useful but knowing how to diffuse an angry customer is.
While I can’t confirm or deny that the jobs I’ve had while growing up better prepared me for the job I have now, I can tell you that the hard work certainly made it easier for me to obtain work. After college, I had no idea how I was going to obtain a job in Mathematics, considering I had no experience in a hostile job market but thankfully, my restaurant experience allowed me to land a job that was fantastic in paying my bills and keeping me occupied. While times were tough, I was able to stay on my feet, eventually landing a job that has worked out even better than expected.
Early employment has offered a variety of opportunities, and the money and knowledge earned has certainly made my life more enjoyable. Allowing (not forcing) your child to have a job should make your life easier too, as every parent wants their kids out of the house. If you get the sense that a job would do your child good, warm them up to the idea and hope they find something they love. To give you a better idea of what jobs are available, I’ve listed my elaborate work history below.
- 1989: Fruit Stand Cashier - When I was five years old, the customers were amazed that I could multiply the weight of the item by it’s price per pound. With my rosy cheeks and curly blond hair, I was a big-tip machine!
- 1991: Golf Ball Re-Seller – My father worked as superintendent of a golf course for 20 or so years and one of my favorite jobs growing up was gathering stray golf balls on the course, throwing them in a big garbage bag, lugging them home, cleaning them and getting the ready for sale. Then my dad and I would leave Saturday mornings around 4:30, go to the local convenient store to grab a hot chocolate and he would sit me at the tee box of hole #3. (A notorious water hole). I would sell the good balls 2 for $1 and the bad balls 5 for $1. Best job I ever had.
- 1993: Mowing Lawns and Landscaping – My family also had a nice side venture named “Ground Control” were we would landscape. This was my most hated job because I would waste a weekend raking up grass clippings at the local Mazda dealership.
- 1997: Did Somebody Say McDonald’s? - Worked my way from the lobby, to cashier, to drive-thru to shift manager. Started when I was 13 and finished up when I was 18 with the only gap in work history coming when I started college. Made a few dollars over minimum wage throughout but enjoyed that job too. Nothing better than being responsible for a restaurant when you’re 17 years old. Hardest job I’ve ever had.
- 1999: Marshalls Stock Room – The only job I’ve had on this list less than a year, one summer I signed up to clean Marshalls before opening and to unload the truck in the early afternoon. Again making just over minimum wage, this job stunk too.
- 2002 – 2005: Intramural and Athletics Supervisor – Last but not least, I attained two jobs while in college, both in the athletics department. Sports have always been a passion of mine and these jobs were fun because I was able to spend time outside doing something I love. Good times.
If you need more help in finding jobs that teenagers can accomplish, check out our list of 10 high paying jobs for high school students.