Three Things I Learned While Writing 'Hey, Get a Job!'
During the process of researching and teaching teens about how to get and keep a job, I learned three things which drove me to write Hey, Get a Job!
- There are not many resources out there for teens seeking their first work experience. You can find tons of stuff on employment for college graduates, adults seeking career changes, and even senior citizens wishing to return to the workforce. But teens? Not so much.
- Kids like to say they know everything about getting and keeping a job, but in actuality, they don’t know anything. The first time I assigned students to fill out a job application I received grumbles and those often-heard words, “This is stupid, I already know how to do this.” I did not teach the application, I didn’t even provide tips, hints, or don’ts. What I got was a mass of applications that were unacceptable. Teens didn’t know how to properly write their address, education history became yes or no questions (YES, I want to attend college), strengths and skills prodded lists of things like the amount of weight one could bench press or the grade on an exam, and my personal favorite, the references they listed were their best friends. Do teens know how to get and keep a job like they say they do? Nope.
- Adults often mistake a teen’s reluctance to get a job as laziness when it is actually that they are scared. All kids like money, and believe it or not, the vast majority of my students wanted to earn their own money. The problem for many of them, however, was that they were intimidated by the adult world of work. We treat them like kids, we feed them, clothe them, make them do a few chores around the house, and then it seems to them that one day we say, “It’s time to grow up, find a job opening, apply, interview, act mature enough not to get fired, and manage the money you make.” It’s a change that many teens don’t believe they’re ready for and therefore resist.
My hope with Hey, Get a Job! is that it gives kids the comprehensive information they need to have the confidence to make a smooth transition from kids to young adults. In our society, one of the most important rites of passage from child to adult is the first job. How can we expect teens to successfully navigate growing up if we don’t provide the necessary tools? Hey, Get a Job! is, in my biased opinion, a great tool for teens and their parents.