Toronto Zoo

Is your teen ready for an after-school job?

Giving teens the chance to earn money outside of the home can certainly be worthwhile. Jobs teach the value of money and hard work, and also the importance of timeliness and time management.

While having a job gives teenagers independence and buying power of their own, that extra money should also teach money management, such as allocating funds for the things kids want (clothing, electronics, etc.) and the things they need (gas for the car).

While a teenager should be given some leeway, parents should encourage kids to save for college or big-ticket items in the future. Oftentimes, kids feel like they aren't making a bundle of money, so that makes it all disposable income. However, opening a savings or checking account can help kids amass savings and see just how much they could be saving instead of spending.

In addition to bringing in money and teaching responsibilities, jobs can also help teenagers acquire new skills. Be it an after-school or summer job, the position could expose children to new computer, machinery or clerical skills, or even plant a seed for a potential career down the road.

Once kids are deemed ready to work, parents should encourage the submission of applications to places teens might be interested in. Include a resume with past experience — even if it is mowing lawns. Some great first-job opportunities include working in libraries, fast-food chains, restaurants, movie theatres, retail stores, and summer camps.

When teenagers score that initial interview, offer help in preparing for that meeting but let kids dictate how much assistance parents give. Teach kids about the importance of appearance and punctuality, as well as the value of being articulate during job interviews.

Discuss how a teenager's skills might translate into the job market. For example, a child used to cooking dinner for the family might be an ideal fit for the restaurant business, while a voracious reader might be a perfect fit for the local library.