Summer Job Jeopardy 2010

7 years ago

I’ll take “Perturbed Parent” for 100, Alex!

Clue: “Get a Job”

Answer: How does a parent respond to a sixteen-year-old, when the sixteen year old says that for the summer she wants to go to the movies at least three times a week; plans to meet her friends for dinner out at least twice weekly; and needs a new bathing suit and some gas money?

I’ll take “Unmerited Privilege” for 200, Alex!

Clue: “Get a Job”

Answer: What does a parent say when the 18-year-old says, “I want to take a year off and travel overseas?”

I’ll take “Extended Adolescence” for 500, Alex!

Clue: “Get a Job”

Answer: What does a parent strongly suggest when the 21-year-old comes home from college and no longer likes her school, her major or her life!

Is it just my children or does this generation of teens and young adults think that work is something only old people do? I just had lunch with a friend whose daughter, currently in law school, had multiple job offers after she graduated from college. Her job interviewers told her she was a unique commodity because she actually worked during the summer as a teen and a college student. They found this to be rare among the other graduates they had interviewed. Since when is working in the summer rare?

I know this makes me sound really old, but when I was growing up, my parents made it clear that we were to get a job as soon as we were employable. My brother and I took that as a mandate -- he got a paper route as soon as he could, and I babysat in the neighborhood until we were old enough to get real jobs, like pumping gas at the local gas station and flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s. Somehow my husband and I failed to make the same impression on our children.

Female waiter holding drinks on tray

Admittedly, times are hard, jobs are scarce and everybody’s money is tight. This summer represents the "the toughest seasonal employment climate for teenagers in decades." This is is due in large part to the reality that teens must compete with older workers, some 1 million whose unemployment benefits have recently expired.

My middle daughter interviewed for a waitressing job, but the restaurant wanted someone with five years experience. Clearly, not many teens would qualify. Still, I was annoyed with her job search because it was half-hearted, her considerations were too narrow (she’s too picky) and her efforts too late. The few good jobs available got filled in April and May. So here we are a houseful of teenagers -- penniless and spending lots of time at home with the fam. We’ve made lots of trips to Red Box, and we’ve learned a thing or two about how to entertain friends with a home-cooked meal and freshly baked desserts. Things could be worse, much worse. My kids are great kids and lovely people. I just wonder if they learned this summer’s lesson, which is: When the jobs are harder to get, you gotta work harder to get them!

Are your kids employed? How’d you get them up and out on the job trail? Did they try to get work only to come up empty-handed?


Contributing Editor Gina Carroll also blogs at Think Act: Proactive Black Parenting  and Tortured By Teenagers 

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