Your Teen Should Be Working — And Here’s Why

Many parents have mixed feelings about their children working. Some would like their kids to join the workforce, but prefer they focus on sports, volunteering, and other activities that will help get them into college. Others worry that adding a job to school and extracurriculars would be too much responsibility.

On top of reluctant parents, changes in the work force that started during the Great Recession (i.e. teens having to compete with college students, retirees, and other seasoned workers) have led to less than a third of today’s teenagers being employed. There are fewer low-skill, entry-level jobs to be had — and more skilled workers fighting for them.  

As a result, teens are holding off on getting jobs until college or after they’ve earned their degree. Unfortunately, this means they might be missing out on important experiences that will help them in their future careers, such as:

Increased Skill Set

Job teach teens how to delegate tasks to fellow employees, handle customers, and work under a supervisor. They also pick up a number of soft skills, such as functioning in a team environment, getting to work on time, and putting forth a positive attitude. They meet new people, learn to navigate new and unusual situations, and build self confidence and self-reliance. As they gain these skills, they set themselves up for future success — and create lasting memories to boot.

Financial Education & Independence

Money management is a life skill best learned early. Having a job that brings in a paycheck allows teens to learn how to manage their money and rely on themselves to make certain purchases. They can also create a budget and pay for monthly expenses they accrue (e.g. car insurance, cell phone, internet).

Additionally, they can put money into savings. By saving part of their income, teens can make a major dent in their college expenses, avoiding excessive student loans that can cripple post-graduate financial growth.

Work/Life Balance

Having to work while maintaining grades and meeting educational deadlines gives kids the opportunity to explore how they will balance all of their commitments as an adult. They learn the importance of prioritizing responsibilities and managing their time. While this can be a hard lesson, it’s a critical one. It gives them a leg up when they branch out into the world of full-time jobs and responsibilities.

Work Experience

The job market favors those with experience over education. While a college degree is very valuable, it’s even more so when presented with a resume full of experience. Students who work during their high school and college years can demonstrate this experience and establish helpful references, making it easier to get a lucrative full-time position.

While all of these skills are important to gain, it’s the job of parents to assess whether their kids are ready to handle the responsibilities of a job. It’s also necessary to consider if a job might cause a teen too much stress, hurt their grades, or cause them to miss out on other activities.

In the end, the benefits many teens see from part-time work outweigh the drawbacks. Building experience, financial independence, self-reliance, and far-reaching skills are among the best reasons for teens to get a job.

Did you work in your teenage years?


Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.

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