At what point does getting a job make sense for you and your teen? In Virginia, teens as young as 14 years of age can work, albeit in a limited capacity, but it’s not uncommon for teens between the ages of 16 and 19 to have a part-time job – both during the summer and the school year. The benefits to working for teens are numerous, and I’ve listed the main ones here:

  • Having a job as a teen pays off academically. Research in this area of study has repeatedly shown that teens who work actually do better in school. More specifically, teens who work between 10 and 15 hours a week have higher grades than teens who don’t work at all. One study even found that teens who work in high school earn higher salaries later in life compared to their non-working high school peers.
  • Having a job builds confidence in teens, which in turn contributes to an increased sense of responsibility and independence – all needed qualities for life after high school.
  • Having a job as a teen teaches time management, which is also important to learn as your teen ages out of childhood and transitions into young adulthood.
  • Teens learn more about the value of a dollar when they have to work for that dollar. Having a job teaches teens how to save or budget and spend money more responsibly. From contributing to car expenses and a college fund, and to everything in between, having a job teaches teens about money management.
  • Having a job as a teen helps with the development of interpersonal and social skills. As human beings we are social beings, so having a job forces teens to learn how to successfully manage themselves with others in a work setting.
  • Having a job as a teen helps with structuring time more responsibly and constructively. Beyond managing time with school work with a job, having a workplace commitment means less down time in the afternoons and evenings for your teen. As the old saying goes, “Idle time is the devil’s workshop,” and this can be very true for many teens.

It’s important to note that your teen may not be ready to work when you’d like him or her to be; thus, being sensitive to your teens social/emotional bandwidth and level of maturity developmentally is important before filling out those applications. If you feel your teen is too socially anxious to hold a job, for example, perhaps having him or her take on some volunteer work first would be good practice and more manageable.

Lastly, if your teen is reluctant or slow to the moment with applying to jobs, you may want to assist in the application process. We as parents and adults know that getting a job doesn’t mean filling out an online application to just Top Golf or Game Stop only to wait and wait and wait to hear back. In my opinion, your teen should fill out a lot of on-line applications, and also walk in to places that have posted help wanted signs. And yes, most applications are on-line these days, but that doesn’t mean that your teen can’t stop into a place (after applying on-line) to introduce him or herself to a potential employer. An on-line application will certainly get things going, but following up with strong in person introduction can be what’s needed to separate your teen from the larger pack of on-line applicants to secure that job.

Here’s to your teens restful, fun and productive summer.

Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice. He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America and several other outlets. He can be reached at 703 723-2999, and is located at 44095 Pipeline Plaza, Suite 240, Ashburn.