What is your sixteen-year-old doing this summer? Will he be in summer school, doing a sports camp, playing Xbox or working? While being on a sports team and doing cool activities are great for teens, there is nothing like having the responsibility of a paying job. It teaches them things that their parents often can’t such as time and money management. A job is a resume builder, a way to financial independence and an opportunity to start figuring out what they want to do or not do for the rest of their lives.

All of our kids are going to have to work after college so learning to find a job now is only going to increase their chances of finding employment upon graduation. My husband and I expect our children to have paying jobs by the age of sixteen. Many kids, such as my daughter, are fortunate to be in a situation where they spent years as volunteers somewhere and are able to parlay that experience into a paying gig. Two of my sons were not in this situation and had to find employment by pounding the pavement. It was a hard and demoralizing process and I realized that they needed help from my husband and me. Between my two boys they visited a total of fifty-five businesses before they got offers. Here are our step-by step instructions on how to help your child find a job:

Preparing for the job hunt:

1. Order your child business cards with his name, high school, contact information, and a description such as, “smart, reliable worker.”

2. Even if he has no work experience, he needs to create a resume with his GPA, 3.0 or better, school activities, volunteer work and sports.

3. Make sure he sets up the voicemail on his cell phone so he can get calls from prospective employers.

4. He needs to memorize his social security number.

5. Practice interviewing with him.

6. Many job applications are online. My experience is that those applications go into a void never to be seen again. Make sure your kid prints each one out and takes it to the business with him.

The job hunt:

7. Be prepared to drive your child around town as he goes from business to business. You’ll need to coach him, push him and be his cheerleader.

8. When he walks into a business he needs to ask for the hiring manager. The manager will either tell him there are no jobs, interview him on the spot, or ask him to fill out an application. He may or may not call him back for an interview.

9. Once he gets called back for an interview, he needs to act enthusiastic about the job whether he wants it or not. After the interview he must send a hand-written thank you note telling the hiring manager how much he wants the job.

10. If he doesn’t get a call back, he should visit the business a week later to see if they are still hiring.

11. If he gets offered a job, he doesn’t have to accept it on the spot. He should politely ask for salary, hours, and uniform requirements and tell them he will call the next day.

For my older child, getting a job was a life-changing event. It built his confidence and turned him into a responsible young man. You can read more about his experience in the mid. Over the last two weeks my sixteen-year-old son has walked into fifteen businesses, had five interviews and three job offers. He is now gainfully employed and was able to put his older sister’s name in at one of the places he chose not to work. When she returned from college and stopped in at the business, the owner told her he was very impressed with her brother and really loved the business card. She is now gainfully employed as well!

Kathleen Thometz is an artist, writer and founder of Doodle Art & Design, a teaching studio, art gallery and retailer of its signature art kits in Western Springs. She lives with her husband, kids and three doodle dogs: Rainbow, Sunshine and Thunderstorm. Check out the Doodle Art website at www.doodleartanddesign.com.

Kathleen Thometz

I am an artist, writer, and art instructor with four children, one husband, and two doodle-dogs. I have contributed articles to the mid.com and Chicago Parent Magazine and wrote the Artist's Eye column...