Did you work when you were a teenager? I had two different jobs, and I loved them.
One was in a Christian bookstore. I worked one or two nights a week and every Saturday, and I loved it. I started at age 16, and stopped at university. I learned all about ordering, and when the computer systems came in, I was the one who programmed them. I graduated high school a semester early, so I worked full time there until I left. It was a lot of fun.
I read so many Christian books, too, and got familiar with a bunch of Christian music. I was working there when the Jimmy Swaggart scandal broke, and saw all these people just devastated because I think their faith was more tied up in Jimmy than in Jesus, but even that was an eye-opener.
The best thing was that I was working with older Christians who went to different denominations than I did, so I made lots of friends who were like mentors to me. I really appreciated that time, and managed to save up a lot of money to see me through the next few years.
I also had another job, this one the polar opposite. I worked at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto's hockey arena. I worked all the hockey games, all the wrestling matches, and most concerts. I was promoted up in seniority over there, and eventually ran the biggest concession stand in the stadium. We had to do math in our heads accurately and quickly, and deal with difficult people. But I loved that, too.
In fact, I loved my jobs more than I did school! They taught me responsibility, and I felt like I was in the real world. I think they also kept me out of trouble. I had places to go at night, and that was just as well. Not as much time to worry about school dances or boyfriends or parties.
Jobs are great training grounds for handling money as adults, and they let teens learn the value of saving money. My new sister-in-law told me that she bought her first house at 17. She was moving out, and didn't want to pay rent while she was at college. Houses in the area were cheap, so she took the money she had saved for jobs and it became her downpayment. Over the years she's sold several houses and bought successively bigger ones, and she's in great financial shape now, even in her early thirties. What a life lesson that wouldn't have been possible had she not had a job!
My oldest is now 14, and we happened to be in the library the other day when I saw the CEO of it, who happens to be a friend of my husband's. I asked him how young they hire, and he said grade 9. We hurried home and wrote a resume, and she has an interview today. I'm really excited.
She wasn't initially that thrilled, because she's scared she's going to miss out on time with her friends. But I think once she starts working she'll find that she has friends there, and she'll like feeling grown up. But it's a perfect job for her. They're closed Sundays anyway, so she won't have to worry about church. They're not open Friday nights, so she won't have to worry about missing youth group. And she gets to be around books!
When we wrote her resume it was amazing how much stuff she had to put down: awards she's won, our time in Kenya, volunteer activities, academic achievements. She's actually had a very full life. And when she gets this job, which I assume she will, she'll be able to add to that.
Several kids I know, though, would have absolutely nothing to write on a resume, except that they are expert at certain video games. They've never volunteered anywhere or done much of anything. And that's sad.
Adolescence is very much a modern phenomenon. A hundred years ago, kids at 14 were doing adult work. Today we expect to cater to them. But I would rather that my kids learn about working, and money, and getting along with co-workers while they're still living at home than when they're out on their own. So I'm excited for my daughter, and I hope she does well at the interview.
What about you? What was your first job? And how did it change you?
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.