One of the great joys in my life is helping teens and twenty-somethings get their first job. Regardless of anyone’s take on the present economy getting a job regardless of your education or past experience isn’t easy, especially for first timers. This last week I was so proud of a few of my teens that have gotten their first jobs at Wal-Mart. There are so many in the unemployed ranks that getting a job for someone without any experience isn’t easy and can actually be rather terrifying.
So the usual path to your first job comes back to your friends who have a job and your willingness to volunteer and gain leadership experience. My passion in life is to see at risk youth get opportunities to discover that life can be awesome when you own up to your situation, stop making excuses or blaming someone and choose to be a learner and lover of your own life. Volunteerism becomes a great pathway for teens and adults to gain vital experience in life where you can give of yourself in helping others and ultimately help yourself.
I will never forget my first job! It was working at Brock’s Ice Cream in Yuba City, California. I had a group of high school guy friends who were employed there and helped me become part of the team that actually oversaw the operation of Brock’s Store. Mr. Brock was a rather trusting individual that allowed a group of teens to literally run his store between doing inventory, making real ice cream and most of all doing clean up. The four of us were given keys to the store and oversaw both the hiring and training of new employees. I doubt Brock understood the impact this had on each of us and our futures.
The dynamic of helping at risk youth get their first job does come back to something rather simple like manners and respect. I have a close friend who is manager of the Starbucks I frequent. Joseph has been great at coaching a few of my teens about doing interviews and understanding how vital it is to dress like you want the job, have great communication skills, show a real interest in the job and then have common sense to share your life passion.
The challenge that most teens don’t see is that there are probably ten or maybe even a hundred other teens or older adults competing for this position. Discrimination is a fact of life so if you are a guy applying at Starbucks or a nice restaurant you will have girls that are much more attractive and suitable for the job so you have to go above and beyond to show you are just as capable. Racism does exist in the work place so if you are one of my African American teens applying for a job at a Hispanic McDonalds it won’t be easy to get hired. Yes, you can get hired but to work in an environment that is totally different from your background requires a special type of person to rise above the circumstances and discover that you can make yourself fit!
So if you are an employer reading this post please step back and consider how you can better position your company to help first time workers have a great experience. If you are a seasoned worker please think how you can be that bridge for a teen that didn’t have the greatest home life and is a little timid when it comes to applying for their first job. What I believe is just as important is for everyone to go back at some point, soon I hope and thank your first boss for giving you an opportunity to understand basic life skills! I will always remember Brocks’ Ice Cream and the life lessons I learned at fifteen! Thanks Brock!