I have long recommended that no parents give their children an allowance, rather I recommend they provide them commissions for certain household chores to help teach your kids that money comes from effort. At some point, many children begin to look for work outside the home to help augment their earnings and start to earn income that isn't reliant on Mom and Dad. First jobs are also great ways to learn about oneself and begin to learn about business. Here are several ideas for great first jobs for kids under age 16.
Paper Route – Many children cut their teeth waking up before dawn to deliver papers prior to going to school. Young people performing this work learn many of the mechanics and hiccups concerning the flow of goods from the factory to the consumer. One learns to push through challenges such as poor weather and supply problems to get the job done.
Babysitting – One of the most common first jobs for many (but not exclusively) girls is babysitting. Babysitting teaches responsibility, preparation, patience and safety not to mention dealing with the highly emotional expectations of customers (parents). These skills are extremely valuable in all aspects of working life.
Park League Official – My first job was as an official at the park league where I had previously been a player. A year round program I had the opportunity to be a referee and umpire for several sports. As an official I learned to make quick decisions, how to handle authority, peacemaking, and how to deal with difficult people. I found it one of the most challenging jobs I have ever held, because at the time I suffered from a great deal of self-doubt. The confidence that I learned through learning to wield these skills have paid dividends throughout my life.
Camp Counselor – Another great job I had at an early age was that of a camp counselor. Many of the same skills that one gains as a park league official are learned here as well, but often at a greater rate simply because one is learning for more hours in a day. Some opportunities are for day camps while others are for resident camps. I had the opportunity to work at a resident camp, which not only gave my parents a break from me, it gave me opportunities to experiment with independence as well as make stronger friendships, many of which thrive to this day. Two other great aspect of being a camp counselor is working as part of a team and being silly. I have found both skills to be invaluable in working with others and making my workplaces fun.
Tutor – Smart kids blessed with patience and good communication skills could be great tutors. Tutoring challenges young people to find different ways to convey information to students who are often reached in different ways. In addition, like all teachers can relate, dealing with personal frustration involved with turning on the light of understanding can be very challenging. Patience, understanding, and encouragement skills are gained through tutoring.
Entrepreneurship – Finally, more industrious kids can actually try to create the whole endeavor. There are many ways kids can find ways to practice entrepreneurship. World famous personal finance author, Robert Kiyosaki writes about how he and his best friend, at a young age, opened a comic book store for neighborhood kids and managed to secure a source of comics for free. Typical new businesses consist of lemonade stands, lawn mowing services and snow shoveling services. There is not better way to learn a wide variety of skills quickly than by starting a business. Children learn sales, managing equipment, customer service, procurement and a host of other concepts. In addition, much like in adulthood, often the rewards of being an young entrepreneur are much greater than a young employee.
There are undoubtedly other ways for children to enter the workforce. Getting children involved in earning money not only allows them to begin the process of financial liberation from Mom and Day, it also allows them to learn valuable skills that will help them throughout their lives.