Teen employment. Personal perspectives.

I started thinking about this blog from my own perspective. Typed up a fabulous post. I checked my spelling and punctuation. Just before hitting submit I stopped and wondered. What if I asked a real live teenager about how they felt their part-time job benefited them? Would they confirm what research shows? And what if I talked to an employer that provides many youth with part-time work experiences? Would they also support the studies on youth and jobs?

So that’s what I did. I realize this maybe isn’t the most scientific way to confirm research, but I still think its valid and maybe somewhere a tad bit reliable.

Insights from youth:

  • “I had to learn how to keep a calendar and think ahead. Trying to think about when I may need to ask off for family vacations was a new thing for me. Sometimes I had to learn the hard way.”
  • “I learned that sometimes even when you are polite others may not be. I learned to be polite anyway. I think that being able to do that was important as I moved on to college. I didn’t take things as personally because of what I learned at my job.”
  • “Having a boss tell you what to do is different than having parents or teachers tell you what to do. I think that was a big adjustment because I learned how people work differently together.”
  • “Keep track of your money. Ask your parents to help you put money away to save.”

As I reviewed what we shared during the podcast earlier this month, I found that the students that I talked with confirmed what research shows. Youth learn responsibility, time management, record keeping and social skills from being employed.  Maybe I have a career in research after all.

Let us know about what youth in your lives have learned from their jobs. We’d love to hear!


Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Teen jobs: Failure is one step closer to success

86489804-campers280I remember my first summer job! It was waitressing and cleaning tables at a local steak house. It was a very humbling experience, as the first time I delivered a large tray of plated steaks to a table, I didn’t consider the balance of the tray and promptly, dropped all of them on the floor.

In my horror, I looked at the steaks on the floor, and looked back at the customers, who were staring too! I know they were conflicted! They wanted to make me feel better; I apologized profusely, knelt down and began collecting my mess and immediately returned to the kitchen with the order ticket, to have the steaks – PREPARED AGAIN!

I have heard it said repeatedly, every failure is one step closer to SUCCESS! And it is true. So, what did I learn about my job as a teenager. I learned that having a job comes with responsibility. I had to clock in on time, deliver the steak dinners with a smile on my face and confidence in my step. I learned that I could not quit because of one “glass of spilled milk”, that I needed to sweep up my mess, apologize and carry on!

I also learned quickly, that teenage employment is a time to determine the specific skills I have, the skills I want to sharpen, and define the things that I don’t care to do in the future. I have never worked in the restaurant industry since. My decision to work with people in another capacity, education, seems to fit my skill set better!

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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