Your Teen's First Job

Options and Decisions

For many teens, getting their first job is one step on the path towards adulthood. But while getting a job in the teen workforce can teach good life lessons such as responsibility, time management, and independence, it can also lead to failing grades and sleepless nights if not managed correctly. If your teen believes that they’re ready for this important next step, here are some tips to help them make the best decision for their situation:

  1. Help them decide what type of job is most appropriate for them. Sit down with your teen and have them write a list of strengths, weaknesses and career options they may be interested in. Help them navigate through online job boards to see what available jobs match their unique skills and desired career path.
  2. Consider a summer job. If you support the idea of your teen going to work but are worried about late nights and suffering grades, a summer job is a great option. Your teen can adjust to the new responsibilities and hours that come with working without putting their schoolwork in jeopardy. Then they can slowly take on work hours during the school year when you feel they are ready.

  3. Look into self-employment. Self-employment is another great option for teens. Jobs such as babysitting, lawn mowing, elder assistance, or a paper route allow your teen to control the number of hours they work as well as their earning potential. With this option however, be sure to speak to a tax professional so you are aware of the tax rules and laws for a self-employed teenager.

  4. Set realistic paycheck expectations. While your teen will be excited about the prospect of making their own money, it’s important to make them understand they won’t be ‘rolling in dough’ right away. Explain to them what minimum wage is, as well as pay deductions for things such as federal and state taxes. Also explain the importance of saving their money – if they don’t have one already, help them set up their own savings account, such as our Youth Savings Account at BMI FCU.

  5. Let them make the major decisions. While it’s always good to be there to provide advice and guidance, don’t be afraid to let your teen lead the decision making process. Allowing them to make the final decision will teach them independence, sound thinking, and reasoning skills. It will also give them a sense of pride knowing they make this important decision on their own.

Taking the training wheels off and sending your teen out into the workforce can be scary. But with guidance and learning, you can rest assured your teen will make the best choice possible, and will learn a lot along the way.