Auntie Says

Auntie Says…Go get a summer job.

Auntie Says…Go get a summer job.

How old is old enough to be working? This sounds like a simple question but in reality the answer will differ for each person.

For me, growing up with seven brothers and sisters, if I wanted anything other than the basic necessities, I had to go earn it myself. I’m a great proponent of hard work and that it should be embraced and never looked down upon.

My first job was babysitting for 50 cents/hour at the age of eleven. I look back and am a little flabbergasted at how young I was but it was my normal—a simple fact of life.

McDonald’s was my first job in the outside world. I was fifteen and excited beyond belief to be making over $3/hr and getting free fries for lunch. I wore the most hideous navy blue uniform (which included a visor) that smelled like hamburgers and deep fried fish all the time. The pace was fast. It was the days when the front staff yelled to the kitchen and long customer lineups to the doors were the norm.

It was such a great training ground as I not only served the public but I did cash, cooked, and assembled orders. We were coached in the six steps of customer service and to this day I still remember them. An impact was made on me that followed me through life. The problem…it wasn’t cool. Even way back then, kids didn’t want to flip burgers. After a few months what I ended up doing was finding a job at a dress store in the mall and quit McDonald’s. So then, my feet ached in the high heels, I was bored silly, and I spent all my money at the mall. It was a decision made for the wrong reasons.

There’s a great TV commercial running now of a fresh faced boy who asks something like: “do your parents tell you that you’re going to end up working at McDonald’s if you don’t get good grades? Don’t worry I work at McDonald’s and it’s great…” I love that commercial. It’s real and tries to address the stigma of working there. Very clever.

The choices for young people to build experience and earn money is at every corner. I see help wanted signs on neon billboards, or tucked into window fronts, and even table displays inside stores with job descriptions and take-away information sheets.

The work experience is different for everyone and if you’ve never had a job before, it’s about learning and getting out of your comfort zone. For some it’s the most natural thing to do, while for others it raises anxiety and fear of having to talk to strangers or learn an unfamiliar task. The thing is that it’s not going to get easier as you get older and sometimes it’s better to get out there and get some experience under your belt. I bet you surprise yourself with how much you can do. Don’t ever sell yourself short.

I’ve heard the argument that kids will have their whole life to work and school is their full-time job so why not just let them be kids. I agree with this to a certain extent in that kids do need to make sure their school work is a priority and if any kind of outside activity interferes, then it needs to be cut back or eliminated. Where I don’t agree is where high school kids are given everything and not learning the value of a buck. Kids need to be productive individuals in the world and the best time to learn that is when they have an adult ready to catch them if necessary.

Originally published by Black Press July 6, 2018


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