Good for teen souls and wallets

It’s been a tough few years, especially for the teenagers. Between the shutdowns and the shift to contactless everything – including education – teenagers have had a pretty raw deal. They could enjoy a break this summer. In fact, they would need a job.

There’s good news for work-ready teens. Unemployment is below 4% overall, and the rate among teens aged 16 to 19 was just over 10% in April, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the “help wanted” signs hanging in the windows of so many businesses drive the point home.


It could be a great time for kids on break to fill the void, earn a paycheck, and learn life skills along the way.

A LABOR MARKET (TEENAGERS)

The hot job market also applies to teenagers, says Cornelius Thomas, career development coordinator at Smithfield-Selma High School in Smithfield, North Carolina.

Thomas, whose role keeps him in touch with local employers, has seen influence shift to the student worker in recent times. “It has become increasingly common for employers to hire career development coordinators with incentive opportunities for students,” he says.

Positions can also be lucrative. He says internships now pay more often than not, and some of his students have taken fast-food jobs that start at $12 an hour. That’s a few dollars better than the federal minimum wage.

A REMEDY FOR THE COMMON TRUST PROBLEM

Opportunity knocks at a time when the kids could use a boost.

The past two years have had an impact on teen confidence, says Jennie Marie Battistin, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in the greater Los Angeles area. She says it’s not uncommon for ordinary interactions, like talking to a waiter in a restaurant or paying at a grocery store, to feel uncomfortable.

“Having a job outside helps them feel confident that they can talk to others in the outside world,” says Battistin.

With kids all over the place, a typical summer job as a lifeguard, restaurant server, camp counselor or cashier could become a masterclass in real-life human interaction.

MEDIA AWARENESS

While it may be instinctive for parents to shield their children from another source of stress, summer employment could actually help teens escape some of today’s pressures.

That’s because they disconnect from social media, engage with co-workers and connect in the real world, says Battistin. “They learn practical tasks. This helps their brain stay alert and present in that moment.

Battistin makes the idea of ​​mindfulness accessible and necessary right now. “When we stay aware of the moment, we are present for the activity. We shut down all the craziness chatter in the world. And we realize, ‘I can do this task and I feel good,'” she says.

A SALARY CHECK PREVIOUS

While mindfulness is happiness, money is motivation.

“Many of the students I work with are interested in jobs primarily for the salary,” says Margaret Sproule, career coach at Radford High School in Radford, Virginia. But their spending goals have evolved over time. They’re looking for “some discretionary money so they can help out with their phones, or their gaming systems and whatever games they want.”

It’s a delicate balance between needs and wants, says Thomas, who encourages his students, especially those who are obligated to help with household expenses, to openly discuss money matters with their families and mentors like him.

“Having these conversations is important because they need to understand how to get the most out of their money,” he says.

MONEY BASICS, NOT STOCKS EVEN

Parents can push these paycheck basics:

— Pay your adolescence first. At 17, it’s as easy as saving $50 a month.

— Spend less than you earn. This is the first step to financial freedom.

— Take steps to establish credit early. Brave parents can add their teen worker as an authorized user of an existing credit card.

Also play on the financial interests of your children. Some of Sproule’s students want to talk about cryptocurrencies, which opens the door to discussing “investing for your future” never too soon. It’s also a good time to tell them that the GameStop saga of 2021 was a fluke.

Ultimately, hands-on experiences with money help cut through the noise and ease the anxiety so many teens have about where life is next, Battistin says.

“They start to trust that ‘I can function financially in the real world and make good decisions,'” she says.

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This article was provided to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. The content is for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute investment advice. Tommy Tindall is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]

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