First Job.

Someday, these little ones that work us from sun-up to sun-down will enter the work force themselves. They’ll learn how to problem solve, fend for themselves and hopefully, be proactive in a lazy touch-screen world.

My first job was babysitting my next door neighbor while her mom ran to the neighborhood store or into town for haircut.  Lorraine was maybe 6 and I was 12. We played games in her basement and watched TV. It wasn’t a lot of tasks, but it was responsibility. I learned to communicate with an adult. I learned about commitment and planning ahead. Though I would beg my mom to answer the house phone and get the details about the babysitting job for me, I’m so glad she encouraged me to be brave and confident. Learning to navigate yourself in a working environment is an integral part of growing up!

My husband and I employ 50+ teenagers and twenty-somethings. We hired 12 students this year and love working with young people. We have seen just about everything in the world of “my first job.” Some first timers represent themselves wonderfully- with confidence and respect. Some… not so much.

I have a hard time defining where the fault lies- is it the helicopter parent or the over-priveldged child that makes this adaption in the working world so awkward? Parents don’t seem to know how to give their young people autonomy and then when they do, the young person doesn’t know what to do with it. So… in my venting (after receiving yet another email from a parent) I share my wisdom from the hiring side of the work place.

1. Don’t ask a business if they will hire your kid. Don’t tell them how wonderful your kid is, when they’ll be able to drive or how many honor rolls they are on. No employer wants to hire an employee AND their mom. If mom is doing the asking, than the kid is obviously not independant enough for a job.

2. Check your kid’s social media. Teach them about perception and encourage them to be professional even online. Kissing profile pictures, hashtag curse words and cover photos of beer pong will, most likely, not land you a job at any reputable company. Also, profile names such as “Princess Sarah” or “High-Maintaince Jane” don’t sound enticing. (I would think that should go without saying.)

3. Encourage them get a job for themselves. Teach them to value responsibility, organization, networking, and learning a skill. When we see “my mom made me get a job” or “my dad thinks it would be good for me” on an application, it gets a big red X.

4. Teach them to be self-effacing, not manipulative. Countless times, we have had applicants say they needed the job to help pay the bills in their in their single-parent home or they were pregnant and in need of third (or fourth) job. Knowing background is wonderful, but making an employer feel guilted into hiring you is not. Teach your kid to re-tell their story, “My mom raised me to work hard” or “I’m incredibly organized and would be willing to work odd-hours.” Make an employer want you on their team.

5. Motivate your child to work. Don’t give them an endless allowance or access to a never-checked credit card. They won’t be a good worker and they’ll expect the world to work around them. Earning a paycheck is a privilege and it helps kids understand the value of themselves. It makes them proud of their work, their job and their accomplishments. And…they build self-confidence too!

6. Pray for your kid! They are your most prized possession- the best gift you have to offer the world. Pray that they work with people who encourage them, lift them up and teach them to succeed. Pray that they represent themselves in a confident but humble spirit. Pray that their first job experience will teach them skills that you couldn’t. Pray that God will take the culmination of all they have learned and all that they are, to show them their “place in the world.” Whether they end up serving sno cones, doing open-heart surgery, or raising a family, being exactly in the place that God called them to be is the best place for them!

I”ll probably be fighting back protective-Mommy-mode when my two little ones head off into the working world. Nonetheless, I have to believe that the work I put in from sun-up to sun-down during THIS phase of life will be harvested later. My kids will be able to look at a business they love, apply on their own and enter the work force knowing that THEY earned something they desired.

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