It may not feel as momentous as the day your child started school, but when your teen begins working still feels like a huge life event for parents; an emotional combination of pride, nerves and a desperate gabble of last minute words of wisdom.
We asked parents whose children have started work, what the experience has taught them and how to best prepare your teens for the world of work.
Don’t assume it’s easy for teenagers to get a job.
“We might have got jobs in our mid teens - both my husband and I worked from 14 - but it’s almost impossible for kids nowadays. There are so many restrictions it’s not worth it for employers. Plus, schools put a lot of pressure on teenagers and their parents not to get part-time work and concentrate on their schoolwork. ” Ginny
“Jobs are hard to come by without any experience. We got our kids to go all round the local area with their CVs and a keen smile, but it was soul-destroying and ultimately pointless. Chances are they’ll get their first jobs through you knowing someone or through a friend who’s already got a toe in the door.” James
Coach your kids about money (including getting it!)
“My supposedly bright daughter took a job as a waitress after an interview without knowing what the hourly rate was or how many hours she would be expected to work. She was too embarrassed to ask.” Jane
“I’ve been amazed how many cafe and shop owners are so disorganised (or perhaps taking the piss) that they don’t tell teenagers what they will be paid and when. I now drill into my teenagers that it’s their right to be paid the going rate for their age and to be paid regularly and on the specified day, not grudgingly out of petty cash when the owner happens to be in.” Jenny
“Kids under 18 will be paid in cash. If you don’t want their rooms to look like a drugs’ den with rolls of £10 notes in elastic bands, help them open a bank or building society account.” Nancy
“Talk to them about saving a percentage of their money - not just spending it all. That said, it’s amazing how carefully my teenager weighs up spending his own money versus spending mine! Nothing like working eight hours to make you think, ‘Do I really need to spend it all on one night out?’” Dan
You’ll see them grow up overnight.
“I’d tell kids to accept their first job is a learning curve - don’t be afraid to ask for help if they’re unsure, but try to use their own initiative first to find the solution. Be confident, but not a ‘know all’. Be polite to everyone.” Glynis Kozma, author of Leaving Home - The Essential Guide
“If possible, teens should get a customer-facing job in a cafe or shop. They learn so much more and their confidence and social skills improve, and they’re less likely to get bored as it’s usually busy.” Eve
You matter (however low down the rung your first job is).
“Teenagers should go into their first job valuing themselves without being ‘entitled’. I know it’s a tricky tightrope, but as a father of teenage girls, I wanted them to know it is never OK for a boss to behave in a creepy way.” Rob
“My advice would be do everything you can to dissuade your teenager from being a bike delivery rider. It’s dangerous work, especially at night on busy streets, and means you can never relax.” Siobhan
Time-keeping is important...
“It’s not my job to get my teenaged son up for his weekend work in a cafe. He’s supposed to be responsible, so he has to act it. He learnt the hard way - he lost his first job because of his slack approach to being on time. Frankly, it served him right and I hope he’s learned the hard way he can’t let other people down by being late.” Carol
“You have to be on time, not just on the first day but every day. Factor in enough time for slow buses or whatever transport issue there is. Arriving 10 minutes early is a good thing.” Paul
“Your teenager needs to get to work on their own steam - not expecting taxi parents to take and collect.” Alan
So is eagerness.
“My one bit of advice is make sure your teenagers know they’re being paid to work, not as a favour while they sit on their mobile phones. I employ teenagers in my bakery and they can be a great asset when they’re keen to do more - like cleaning in quiet times - and beyond irritating when they’re in a bubble and don’t notice what needs doing.” Lianne
But remember they’re not that grown-up really.
"After eight hours on their feet smiling at customers, my boys are tired and super-grumpy. I’ve learnt not to ask them anything about their day, until they’ve been fed. ” Beth