May 2024

How Do I Prepare My Teen for His or Her First Job?

Q: My teen started looking for their first official job and, as their parent, I’d love to help them through this process. How can I prepare my teen for their first job?

A: You sound like an involved, responsible and caring parent. Preparing your teen for their first job will help ensure their foray into the working world is as smooth and successful as possible. Here’s how to prepare your teen for their first job.

Talk about their goals

Help your teen hash out their goals before looking for their first job. Sit down with them and ask what they hope to achieve with their job.

Do they want to join the crowd working at the local coffee house on the weekends, or are they more in it for the money? Are they saving up for something specific, or just looking for a way to increase their casual spending? Is their objective to get some real work experience that can help them land a more lucrative position in the future?

Defining their goals will help your teen find and keep the job that suits them best.

Find out if they’re eligible

Depending on your teen’s age and the protocols of local businesses, your teen may not be able to work at an official position just yet. Many companies only hire employees who are age 18 and above.

If your teen is underage, you can guide them towards jobs that accept a work permit for younger employees, or an unofficial position such as mowing lawns, walking dogs, or babysitting for neighbors.

Share salary expectations

It’s important for your teen to know what kind of paycheck they can expect to receive at their first real job. According to ZipRecruiter, teens earn an average of $16.74 an hour. Explain to your teen that people working for 10 or 20 years will earn more than someone working their first job. Talk to them about work experience and how they can anticipate their earning potential growing with the passage of time.

Resume polishing

As their parent, you are in the unique position to help your teen prepare for their first job application and interview.

Together, draft a resume that provides information on their education to date, as well as their professional goals and aspirations. Include special skills they possess, along with any extracurricular projects they’ve been involved in and any organizations they volunteer for during their free time.

Job hunt and application process

Once you’ve narrowed down your teen’s skills and work goals, talk to them about effective job-search strategies, such as checking online job boards, visiting local businesses to ask about possible openings and networking with friends and family.

Encourage them to explore part-time, seasonal, or entry-level positions that match their interests. Once they’ve found a few possible job options, guide them through the application process, including sending their resume, as well as follow-up calls and emails.

Interview prep

Next, help your teen gear up for their first job interview. Review common interview questions they can expect to get and come up with responses that will leave the best impression while still being truthful.

Role-play an interview so they can practice for the real thing and lose any nerves they may be feeling. Share some tips about proper professional wear and stress the importance of being polite throughout the conversation.

Finally, make sure they get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast before the big day.

Talk about finances

Once your teen has landed a job, it’s time to talk about finances. Here are some work-related money topics you may want to cover:

Tax implications. If your teen is earning money, they may need to pay taxes. If they are self-employed and earning over $400, they’ll likely file a 1099-MISC.

Direct deposits. If your teen already has their own checking account, talk to them about having their paycheck directly deposited. This saves time and often clears for availability sooner than a paper check.

If they don’t have their own account, consider opening one for them now. An account in your teen’s name will help them feel more responsible toward the money they earn and manage it more responsibly.

Saving and investing. Your teen’s first job presents a perfect opportunity to discuss saving and investing. Talk to your child about setting aside a percentage of their earnings toward saving, or even getting started on investing. Help them create short- and long-term financial goals and set smaller goals along the way to keep them motivated.

Time management

As your teen adjusts to their new responsibilities, you can help them develop a healthy work-life balance and learn to manage their time effectively. Help them create a schedule that allows time for keeping up with their schoolwork, hanging out with friends and meeting all their work requirements

You’ve taught them how to ride a bike, held their hand through cavity fillings and coached them through soccer and piano lessons. Now, it’s time to guide your child in their foray into the workplace.

Bay Federal Credit Union is a local, not-for-profit financial institution with banking solutions for the whole family. (

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