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What age did your teen start working?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

DD1 is 14 and very much wants a job (a REAL job, not babysitting, or paper delivery, etc). CO labor laws say that 14 yr olds can work in a lot of different positions. Including food service, retail, office work, hotels, etc. I'm encouraging her to do this for a few reasons. My mom would not let me get a job until I graduated high school. I really feel that hurt me a lot. I went out in to the *real world* with no idea how the work environment was. Plus DD1 always wants stuff and we really can't afford it. This way she could buy her own makeup, pay for texting, etc. 


I'm just wondering how old other teens were when you guys let them get jobs?

post #2 of 22

i think if they are ready for the responsibility that a job brings and if it doesn't interfere with other things (school, homework, activities, chores) then whenever they are allowed to work they should do it. one thing i have learned tho is that babysitting can pay way more than any real job

post #3 of 22

I haven't hit this milestone with my own kids yet, but I got my first job at 15.  Overall I'm glad I got that job.  It taught me valuable life skills.  However, some of the people I worked with were rather sketchy and it put me into situations that I was not ready for (drinking and drugs mostly).  That could happen just as much at school though so take my anecdote with a grain of salt.

post #4 of 22

My DD started working as a performer in theatre at 10 but that was sort of different. At 14, she still does professional theatre when she can but there isn't much in her age range. This past fall, she decided to take the classroom aide training program at her youth theatre. She completed her unpaid internship this past winter. She interviewed this spring and was hired as a summer camp aide. She only got 3 full-time weeks where the older teens and college kids work most the summer but she can supplement by being a sub should she wants. It's actually sort of perfect though as she will still be able to fit in her other summer activities (wasn't ready to give all that up yet!) During the school year, she'll only aide 1 or 2 classes a week. If it's too hard with school, she can just apply for school holiday work. She really loves the work!


If your DD wants to get a job let her try. I will say that it can be very difficult for a young teen (or even an older teen) to get employment these days. You don't see teenagers in fast food as much which employed most teens when I was that age. Retail is mostly the college crowd. With the economy, more adults are accepting lower paying jobs and pushing teens out. In our area, working teens tend to be those with special skills like being good enough in a sport to work a sports camp (or music, theatre, ect.) You see teens as lifeguards at the pools. The local theme park does hire lots of teens in operations and food service but that's sort of it.


Oh, and I started working at 15 as a stage tech running lights and sounds for community events. I loved it and I know it helped that I could cover some of my own costs.

post #5 of 22

I think the best jobs for teens of that age are summer camps, etc. PP are right in that in this economy, the typical teen jobs are hard to come by. Also, working during the school year will impact grades and involvement- it just does. I teach high school and most of my students who work, struggle with the workload and early start time of school.


The high school where I teach hires student workers during the summer to clean and empty lockers, dust everything in the school, re-do bulletin boards, etc. Also, if your child cannot find a job, maybe try volunteering. I am the sponsor of a service club at school and many of my 14/15 year old members do volunteer work during the summers, etc. This summer many are working at the AAU summer olympic games and working at a soup kitchen making lunches. This is valuable experience and also leads to contacts later on. One of my students once volunteered during the Christmas season at a well known business' Christmas party for kids. When she went looking for a job at the restaurant owned by said company, they hired her immediately b/c of the great job she did as a volunteer.

post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

Well we don't have any local summer camps that hire anyone under 16. Plus I really want her to have a REAL job. Not a camp job. She also is going to online school next year so her school hours can be tailored around her job. I'm also not going to be driving her back and forth for something she doesn't get paid for so no volunteering. Nuh uh. Can't afford the gas to do that.


I have already given her the go ahead to find a real job. Was more just looking to see what age other parents let their kids get jobs. We really already have things worked out over here.

post #7 of 22

A lot of places won't hire <15. Camps? The ones around here won't hire <16, although 18 is more usual. They don't want the liability.

post #8 of 22


Originally Posted by mtiger View Post

A lot of places won't hire <15. Camps? The ones around here won't hire <16, although 18 is more usual. They don't want the liability.

Our larger programs do. 14-year-olds are always secondary aides working alongside the instructor and an older aide (typically 18+ but occasionally 16/17.) This means there are very few positions for 14/15 year olds but they do exist in our area. These are day camps of course. Resident camps only hire legal adults.


Originally Posted by amydidit View Post

Well we don't have any local summer camps that hire anyone under 16. Plus I really want her to have a REAL job. Not a camp job. She also is going to online school next year so her school hours can be tailored around her job. I'm also not going to be driving her back and forth for something she doesn't get paid for so no volunteering. Nuh uh. Can't afford the gas to do that.


I have already given her the go ahead to find a real job. Was more just looking to see what age other parents let their kids get jobs. We really already have things worked out over here.

Camps are "real jobs." They require a lot of training, often require specialty skills, are very competitive to get and hard work. Plus, it's job experience. Also, don't be so quick to dismiss volunteer work. Like we are all saying, it's really difficult for a teen to find work and the competition is stiff. Volunteer work is a way to build a legitimate resume and to gain reputable refferences. Two teens come in... one with only some private babysitting and a reference from a teacher or neighbor, the other comes in with 100 hours served at a notable food bank and a reference from an official staff member of that organization... who do you think is getting hired?  Plus, it gives them something relevant and respected to actually TALK about in an interview. I know DD's volunteer work and her Girl Scout Silver award were discussed in her interview. 


If your 14-year-old is able to secure what you consider a "real job" this summer great. However, if she finds businesses resistant to a young teenager with no experience, you might consider letting her build a resume this summer with camp or volunteer work. It'll increase her chances of getting a job in the next school year/summer.


Edited by whatsnextmom - 6/17/11 at 11:30am
post #9 of 22
When I worked in the restaurant industry, we used to LOVE to hire 14 year olds to bus tables. They made minimum wage ($7.25) plus 10% of all of the tips the server made in the evening. Plus, they usually only worked 3-4 hours. They would come in at 5 or 6 and leave at 9. A lot of them would walk with $50 for 3-4 hours of work, making more money than some of our cooks. Family owned restaurants are typically willing work around schedules and its a great job to keep coming back to. There are some kids who started there when they were 14 that still come back to wait tables during Christmas and Summer break from college.
post #10 of 22

My kids got jobs when they were 16, but some of their friends got work permits and got jobs at 15.  In my state, those under 16 can only work a limited amount of hours and during the school year can only work until 7pm on school nights.  One of our local grocery stores (Hy-Vee) hires lots of 15 year olds, and many of those kids stay for years.  I don't think a 14 year old could get a "real job" in my state; those kids usually do babysitting and make quite a bit of money that way.

post #11 of 22

Here they can start working when they're 12.  My dd is 12.5 & has mentioned wanting to work but I won't let her yet.   She would have to work retail or fast food & most 12yo's are not mature enough to really handle it, plus at 12 I really don't think they need to have jobs yet.    When they changed the legislation a couple of years ago from 14 to 12 I had quite a few bad experiences with 12yo's in retail/fast food.  She does some volunteering that will give her skills for it, but for now babysitting is fine.


I told her we'll think re-evaluate it next year for the summer & if she does get one, she absolutely does not need a job during the school year.

post #12 of 22

We don't have a teen yet (few more months to go!), but mine is doing volunteer work, and working her way up the ladder in order to be in line for a paid position when she's eligible.  There aren't a lot of teen jobs around here, so having experience, a little resume showing skills and effort, and being "out there" is really helpful.  I will have no problem at all with my kids working and earning $$ when they can.  


FWIW, DH and I both started working as young teens during the summers.


ETA: I think summer camps are very good "real" jobs. 

post #13 of 22


DD was 13 y.o. She was hired as a timekeeper/scorekeeper by a local house league hockey association. She had played on a team in the league, as had her brother. The guy organizing the timekeepers asked her to help out when she decided not to play anymore. 


DS was about 15 when he got a job as kitchen help in a restaurant (I can't recall if it was before or after his birthday). Last summer, when he was 17 y.o., he worked as a counsellor at a residential camp, but there were 16 y.o's hired too. During the school year, he worked part-time at an art gallery/community centre as a customer service rep., receptionist and gallery assistant (hanging and displaying art works etc.). 


They have also done various volunteer positions, unpaid acting work (television), babysitting and mowing lawns/shoveling snow etc. before they started regular part-time employment. 


If she can't find a job, could she create one? DS has a garage rock band and they play gigs around town. It's essentially a job - they sell tickets to their shows, make merchandise (t-shirts, buttons, posters) and sell it, recorded CD's and sell them.... They've had some local success (radio interviews etc.). On Friday night, he was at a music show downtown (not performing), and people recognized him from Myspace/Facebook. All of the profits that the band makes goes right back into promotion, so they aren't really making spending money. If she's looking for employment experience, as opposed to earning lots of disposable cash, then creating a business at a young age is a fantastic way to learn. 





post #14 of 22
Rain got her first job at 10 or 11 doing professional theatre as well, but as a previous poster said that's a little different. At 14 -15 she worked as a teaching assistant for dance classes. We moved to St. Louis when she was 15 and she looked for a job that year but never found one - well, she found one at the community college she was attending at the very end of that year, but she was going to Russia. Then when she came back at 17 she looked for jobs again and it was tough - a lot of places that used to say 16+ now say 18+, and she was competing with people who had college degrees and/or a lot more experience even for entry-level stuff. The unemployment rate is pretty bad in our city, though - in other areas it might be different, although I think I read an article in Time or the WSJ or something about what a rough time teens were having getting jobs lately

Rain wound up with two regular babysitting jobs - one all day Fridays and one Tuesday afternoons - that fit well with her class schedule and that she enjoyed a lot. This summer she's a camp counselor at a camp for inner center youth, which is a job she got heard about via personal connections, and I agree with the pp who said it is indeed a real job. They did a lot of training, and she's dealing with some pretty tough stuff (like the camper who had to leave camp for a few days midway through the session for his mother's funeral). Two counselors have already quit...
post #15 of 22

i got my first "real" job at 15 at a coffee shop. i think i probably worked 2 or 3 evenings a week and it was HARD work. i learned a lot from that job, but the experience that got me the most pay-off was starting to do summer camp at about 13 which led directly to me getting hired to do summer camps by the city at 16. if i hadn't had that experience at my small church camp that paid peanuts (something like $100 honorarium for a summer of work) i wouldn't have gotten hired at a cushy $18 a hour city job that i kept all the way until university, and if i hadn't gotten that experience, i wouldn't have gotten my job teaching overseas for a year after university, and if i hadn't gotten THAT, i wouldn't have gotten into my teaching program when i returned and then i wouldn't be a teacher today.


maybe it's not that cut and dry, but my parents helping me get valuable unpaid experience definitely kick started my eventual career path. definitely working at a crappy coffee shop bought me lunches and movie tickets in highschool, and paid my rent in university, but no one looks at my resume and says "wow, you worked for $7 an hour at X coffee shop!," they look at how my commitment to teaching children and participating in arts education spans almost 15 years.



post #16 of 22

Different country (so no summer camps) but the legal age for kids to work is 14 yo here.  My boys were keen to get a job but lost interest just before they turned 14 so I didn't raise the subject till they did just before they turned 15.  TBH they were a little unfocused at 14 so I think 15 was much better for them.  They worked at a fast food outlet.  As we have a short snow season kids usually get one or two after school shifts during summer but in winter they can work 4 shifts a week.  If the kids are good workers and reliable it is harder as they get more shifts - I have been to the employer and put my foot down about constant late shifts for them for that reason.  My boys have just turned 18 and it is the funniest thing listening to them complain about the 'new little kids'.  I think it's a good thing, it gives skills and provides references, but I especially like that they get the feel for a work situation as opposed to school or home.  I think a lot of employers who have a choice of university applicants for a job will take one who has worked before - they just have a different outlook on being told what to do. 

My daughter would like to work as well but at 13 she is restricted to local babysitting and no one goes out enough round here!  She'd like to work in the pet shop but that's very sought after.  I'm not so keen on her working in the same fast food place as her brothers as the girls were not treated as well as the boys, so we'll be looking around for options soon. 

I can understand not driving for voluntary work tho - we live out of town and if you are still giviing pocket money and paying for petrol it's an expensive way for them to get experience.  Ali

post #17 of 22

My son is 10 and is counting the years until he can work.  Camp counselors are 'real jobs', babysitting is a real job.  Around this house anything that brings in money is a job.  Volunteering is also great and honestly I don't mind driving to volunteer stuff.  Scholarships for university are going to look at everything and some volunteering goes along way with that area.

post #18 of 22
My DH started working as a carpenter at 14. The first couple years were part time paid apprenticeship that took the place of school work. He also delivered appliances. He didn't use the money very wisely but he did use the experience and was an accomplished carpenter before most people graduate from high school. DS is only 9 but is very interested in working and already doing odd jobs for money. I suppose he could get a regularly paying job as soon as he's legal.
post #19 of 22

I'm not a mom of teens (yet!), but I was a teen in the last 5 years so I'll give you my 2 cents :) My parents refused to allow me to get a job until I was 18 and it really ticked me off. I was a very frugal child and teen and saved every penny of my birthday/christmas money from my grandparents from the time I was about 7 years old. When I was 16 I really wanted to get a "real" job so I could start making money and saving for a car. No dice. All that to say---my husband and I have talked about this issue extensively and have decided that 14 is the youngest we will allow our kids to apply for a "real" job, but all our kids will be required to have at least a summer job every summer starting at 16. We want to teach them responsibility and how to wisely manage money before they are out in the big world all by themselves having to figure out that money doesn't grow on trees. 

post #20 of 22

Why is she against babysitting? I made more babysitting in high school and college than I did at my real job.  $7-15/hour tax free?  Yes please!

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