I think “So… when are you gonna get a job?” is one of those questions pretty much every teenager gets asked at some point. Sometimes it comes after turning 16, when/ if you get your driver’s license, or when a family member you only see at Christmas doesn’t know how else to spark conversation. We’ve all be there.
I’ve personally had a job since the summer of 2017, and I’m only 15 years old. If you don’t feel like doing the math, don’t worry: it means I’ve had a job since I was 14, and I’ve been an employee of my workplace for over a year and three months. So, really, I’ve only heard the dreaded question from my curious parents.
My situation, as you can imagine, is incredibly unique: the only real reason I ever got the job to begin with is because of my sister. She was 16 when she started working at Festival Foods. Thanks to a shining referral from our cousin, who also works there, she was hired pretty much right on the spot. She worked there for about 4 months before she suggested I applied there too. So, one sisterly recommendation and nerve-wracking interview later, I got the job.
Thankfully, our department manager has been kind enough to schedule us for relatively the same hours. Had this not been done, it would have been nearly impossible for me to keep the job, especially for so long. I live in a small town, I was too young to get a driver’s license (still am *sniff*), and both of my parents work full-time jobs themselves. Not to mention, the location we got hired at is 30 MINUTES AWAY from our house. Finding someone to chauffeur me to a town that’s half an hour away from my own just wasn’t realistic.
It’s funny, though, because, despite the hundreds of hours of work I’ve put in, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything. I’ve watched a bunch of coworkers my age come and go, and while I found some of them immature and full of unrealistic expectations, I didn’t use their short-lived employment as a boost of my own success. In fact, most of the time I don’t even look that deeply into it: I just wake up, go to work, and go home. And I keep doing that. I don’t find it as something to be proud of, at least not with my current career. So, I think because of this, I’ve never understood the expectation for teenagers to get jobs.
Jobs seem like an unofficial passage into adulthood; it’s one step closer to freedom and responsibility. After-school jobs are a wonderful way to have a taste of adulthood. They are a time-consuming, semi-rewarding expectation, but they are just that: an expectation. Most teens have the opportunity to work an after-school job, and others do not.
I speak to the ones that do not work a steady job, as I am in the same boat. Before you jump to conclusions about my work ethic, take into consideration my environment. I live in the country, ten minutes from the nearest teen job opportunity, I am the oldest of four children, and I do not have access to a car as I have not yet obtained my license.
I have grown frustrated with the job search, having applied to multiple employers and being declined or not contacted whatsoever. I understand the frustration of job hunting and the disappointment when it doesn’t work out, but I continue on. I find ways to make money, like cleaning houses and raking yards so I’m not left penniless. I encourage others to do this, especially if it is one’s desire to have money they worked for. I also keep my eyes peeled for steady job opportunities, in hopes that I may find an employer to hire me.
Attaining a job is not my greatest wish and it doesn’t have to be; I am quite content with the amount of money I have and where my time is spent. I have made a choice to remain jobless until I can drive, that way, I don’t have to burden my family with my schedule. Overall, I am content with my spent time and finance situation, but I look for a job so I can be more dependent upon myself rather than my parents.
Whether you are like Lauren and have a job, or you are like me, without a job, spend your teenage years where you see fit. My advice would be don’t be fearful of responsibility and independence, aka a job, but to jump into the world with both feet, whether a job is what you want or not. During these high school years, focus on things that are important to you and learn important life skills before you’re blindsided by adulthood. If having a job is important to you, by all means, go for it! Don’t let others force you into a job, but let the decision be your own.
Agreed! Despite having a job myself, I definitely don’t see it as something a teenager needs to have. School alone can be a lot to manage, especially if you’re involved in extracurriculars. Not to mention, jobs take up a lot of your free time, so if you have time-consuming — but worthwhile — hobbies, you shouldn’t feel the need to give those up in order to prove something. Having a job has opened me up to opportunities, but I would be lying if I said it’s only been good. I have my own money now, yes, but I used to get incredibly stressed out about the lack of time I had to myself. I started out feeling like I was trapped in a cycle I couldn’t get out of, a cycle that was so bad I almost quit after 3 months. If you’re in a place where you feel like a job would be too much, then you shouldn’t force yourself into getting one, especially if it’s for all the wrong reasons (to impress your parents, to prove you can be mature, etc). Like Kayelona said, being in high school is a time in your life where you’re lucky enough to have the choice to do things that are important to you. And, when it comes down to it, school is your full-time job. Leave the 9-5 for your future ;)
I agree with Lauren, school is the top priority during these years we’re experiencing. During high school, we are just learning time management, organizational skills, and more important life skills. Most of us participate in many attention-demanding things, so it’s best not to overwhelm ourselves. To tag onto that idea, discovering who you are and what you enjoy are both things we work towards in this time period. So all in all, focus on what’s important during these years while you have the time.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
See you next time!
K + L