Studies have shown that students can work while they’re in high school and college – to the tune of around 15 hours a week, which is about two weekend days and a few hours on Friday – without compromising their grades. And in fact, it may help them become more financially responsible adults. I certainly believe it will.
The bigger problem, particularly in this economy, could be finding work. There’s more competition for all jobs these days, and jobs for kids – which tend to be hourly – are no different. Here, a few tips for helping your kids snag a good opportunity:
- Network. Actually, have your kid network. But first, sit down with him or her and brainstorm possibilities – does your family know any business owners or others in the position to hire? Do friends or relatives know any? Follow the breadcrumbs and pursue all possible leads, because this is one of the best ways for kids to land a job. This is particularly true if they’re on the younger side (14 or 15), which generally requires a work permit. Some businesses may not want to go to the trouble, but a family friend is most likely to help.
- Think outside the box. The local fast food restaurants and grocery stores are going to fill their positions fast, so look in less obvious places: Resorts, movie theaters, amusement parks, plant nurseries, camps. Use on-line resources to search for websites that focus on jobs that pay by the hour.
- Spruce up their image. When I talked about this on the Today show recently, I mentioned that I think piercings should come out and tattoos should be covered. Call me old, I don’t care. I recently interviewed a young woman with a teensy nose ring for a position working for me and I could not get past it. Of course, it depends on the position, but clothes and resume should also be professional, and don’t forget to look at their online presence – the Facebook page, Twitter account, and anything else that could turn up in a potential employer’s search.
- Encourage their inner entrepreneur. If your child’s search runs dry, help brainstorm other sources of income: mowing lawns, babysitting, walking dogs, even doing social media for small businesses that need help setting up a Facebook or Twitter page. And remember that particularly during the summer, hiring tends to happen in waves – turnover is fast in the kinds of jobs that tend to hire teenagers, so just because something doesn’t turn up right away doesn’t mean you’re at a dead end.
- Help younger kids work, too. If kids are old enough to get an allowance, they’re old enough to earn a little extra. Younger kids just need to focus their work around the house. Have them do extra chores you might otherwise pay someone else for (walk the dog, clean out your car) for some extra spending money.
Have you helped your child find work? We’d love to hear what you learned from the experience!