Your Teen’s First Summer Job

Sue Ellspermann’s first summer job was working in her family’s jewelry store when she was 14.

Ellspermann — who is now the president of Ivy Tech Community College — learned how to run a cash register and work with customers. She also had to clean the store’s glass, bathrooms and backrooms, as well as put the jewelry in the store safe every night. For all of this, she earned $1 per hour, which she used to buy clothes and save for college.

For teens, a summer job is a ticket beyond school and parental boundaries. Nevertheless, teens usually still need their parents’ help in this area. Here are some ways that parents can aid their teens as they set out to find their first summer job.

Have an open conversation about the basics.

First, help your teen write a resume. It’s OK if they don’t yet have job experience, says Linda Broadfoot, director of Indy Parks — volunteer and extracurricular activities count, too. What’s important is that your child shows responsibility by showing up on time for interviews, returning phone calls, and being thorough and timely when completing job applications. Help your child understand how to fill out a job application and how to conduct themselves in an interview.

Teach the value of networking.

For most teens, who they know is an excellent start. Reach out to family friends, teachers, local job resources or the high school’s guidance counselor for job hunting advice. Charlie Henry, director of communications for the Indianapolis Indians, started at the Michigan City Municipal golf course. His advice: Take advantage of network connections, because you never know where a good opportunity will arise.

Know the laws.

Every state requires teens under the age of 18 to meet specific job requirements. In Indiana, teens must have a work permit from their school before they can work. Teens ages 14 and 15 are restricted to working only during the summer, and can work eight hours per day and 40 hours per week, and cannot work before 7 am or after 9 pm. Teens 16 years of age can work up to eight hours per day and 40 hours per non-school week, plus up to nine hours per day and 48 hours per week with their parents’ permission.

Outline on-the-job behavior.

With a first job, parents should emphasize a good work attitude. While many jobs have their challenging moments, remind your child that because they are at the “bottom of the totem pole,” they will be asked to pitch in on even the most menial tasks. Teens should also know that they don’t have to know all the answers. Ellspermann says that it’s important to get over the fear of not knowing the right answer all the time. “I knew that I could ask someone if I didn’t know the answer,” she says.

Encourage saving.

If they don’t already have one, open a savings account for your teen and designate a percentage that they will set aside for savings. Explain all the aspects of their paycheck, including taxes, withholdings and profits.

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