Lessons to learn from your first job

I remember counting down the months until I was legally old enough to get my first Saturday job. I also remember how proud I was when I got my first pay.

Looking back, it probably wasn’t that much, but it felt like a fortune because it was mine, earned fairly and squarely.  I even had a Tax File Number to prove it!

Working for the first time as a teen, whether it’s a weekend job or a holiday job,is a crucial step on the path towards financial independence. And it teaches plenty of life skills along the way.

Thinking ahead

To ‘do-it-now’ teens, the wait to be old enough to get a job can be agonisingly long . But that time can be well spent gaining useful experience. For example, if they want to work in a cafe, they can practice carrying full plates of food or ‘serving’ at the family table.  Or they can set about learning a relevant skill such as enrolling in a one-day barista course to earn a qualification that can boost their chances of being employed and give them an edge on other teenage applicants.

Resilience

Finding a first job is hard. It requires a thick skin, determination and grit, as well as a level of organisation and self-motivation.  They need to work out where to look for a job, how to approach an employer, how to prepare a CV, how to follow up on a promising lead and, above all, how not to take knock backs personally.

Social skills

A positive attitude, willingness to learn and the ability to work as part of a team are crucial to a potential employer.  Teens also need to be realistic about themselves and what they can commit to.  For example, they may play sport on Saturdays, but wouldn’t mind giving up Sunday mornings.

It’s far better to know your limits upfront than to let your employer down.

The value of saving

A weekend job means that teens suddenly have money in their pockets.

They immediately experience the satisfaction of buying little treats for themselves, but they’re also able to target the more expensive items like festival tickets, designer clothes or a car.  There’s nothing quite as motivating as a specific savings goal!

Savings simple

My advice to teens is to bank half of their earnings each week and keep the rest as spending money.  If you look around, you’ll find that some savings accounts are more geared towards teens than others.  CommBank’s Youthsaver account is a great way for young people to get into the habit of saving. Every month they deposit their pay into a Youthsaver account and don’t take any money out, they’re entitled to bonus interest as a reward for being a good saver. They don’t have to worry about tying their money up for a long time. A Youthsaver account gives them access to their funds whenever they want, including Keycard access when they’re over 14. For more information about a Youthsaver account, click here.

Lessons for the future

As a parent, there’s a role for you, too.  If you have a teen at home who’s raring to join the job market, put on your most encouraging smile.  You’ll almost certainly notice an improvement in communication skills, interpersonal relationships, financial responsibility and reliability, to name just a few of the benefits that will equip them for the future.

Best of all, a menial Saturday job is the perfect incentive for teens to work hard at school to get the grades for the career they really want.

And you don’t have to say a word.

Important Information: The above article contains general advice. It has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of that, you should, before action on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.

For related posts and downloadable activity sheets about financial literacy for kids, visit The Beanstalk.