I have always been a proponent of kids working for their own spending money. When they are very young, 5 to 12 years of age, I like giving them an allowance for their contributions around the home, but I still expect them to work, do their chores. When they enter Junior High it is time to start learning what the real working world is all about.
There are certain requirements and functional structures a person must submit to when working for a real company. These systems are in place for a reason that goes beyond company rules. These systems, if adhered to, can teach a young person discipline and self-esteem. Every job is totally different than any other but in each case the working experience contributes something to a person’s overall personality.
My top ten list of experiences that contribute to self-esteem in an after school job is;
10) MEET SCHEDULE: The work schedule is much different than the school schedule. Not that the hours are any longer or the start and end times are any more difficult to meet but the work schedule demands adherence. With school a student could be a little late, or could call home and leave a bit early. The punishment is minor for missing those few minutes. Work instills in an employee the importance of being available when fellow employees expect you to be. If an employee does not meet schedule he runs the very possible chance of termination. When the student finds out he really can meet a schedule he experiences one of his first successes. Self-esteem is beginning to build.
9) ORGANIZATION: The jobs available for students after work often require certain uniforms; hat, apron and shirt. The employees are generally responsible for their own uniforms, but they have to have them; they must be clean, and they must wear them. To fail in any of these could be cause to be sent home without working and without getting paid. The student learns how to be sure their uniform is ready and available every day. There is a lot that goes into that one task; they learn organization.
8) GET PAID: Show me the money. This is a real self-esteem builder. The first time the student gets a paycheck made out to them, with their name right there on the front of the check, is a real milestone. They did it, they earned that money, and their perseverance and hard work gave them this extra cash. This is cause to be proud of everything they have gone through to get this far.
7) BUY THINGS: Walk downtown at lunch hour and buy that shirt. Go early in the morning before school and get breakfast in a restaurant. Buy things at the bookstore at school. The student has the money now. With pride they can walk into any establishment and purchase what they want, what they can afford, with the fruits of their own labor. They can buy friends things; they can treat girls. Having your own source of funds is indeed a self-esteem builder.
6) DEAL WITH PUBLIC: Not only does the student worker learn how to negotiate and debate with supervisory employees but they learn how to combat irate customers. They learn skills they hadn’t even thought of before. What a great feeling when, by their own prowess, they are able to calm a red-faced customer down to the point the customer actually says “Thank you,” for the help.
5) LEARN TRUST: Someone has to open these places up in the morning and close them at night. Often the only people left at night are the student workers. Someone there is going to have a key that opens and locks up an entire establishment. Someone is going to be trusted with an entire inventory of whatever it is this organization sells. Imagine the pride, the self-esteem that individual has at being selected to be the holder of the key.
4) TREAT MOM & DAD: What a kick to be able to treat Mom & Dad to that seafood buffet for a change. Take them out, put on the feedbag and when the cute little waitress comes to the table with the bill, reach out your hand and take it. “I’ll take that.” With those three words your student worker has just said a career full of self-esteem.
3) COMPLIMENTS: In our lives, compliments can be few and far between. A good worker will get noticed and may get acknowledged before a poor worker. If and when that happens, it is an accomplishment for the worker. A good student worker will be acknowledged for the job they are capable of doing and with each compliment the self-esteem gage raises another notch. These are the ones that get asked back summer after summer.
2) RAISES /PROMOTIONS: If the student holds any position at any one place long enough, they may actually get recognized with a raise in pay. Even if they have complained all year long about the things they have to do, if they have done them and have done them right, they will almost surely get a raise in pay. It may even come as a surprise, but it happens. With each raise the self-esteem increases and generally the work output increases.
And the number one contribution to a student worker gaining self-esteem?
1) LEARNING: Believe it or not. All he or she does in school is learn. Students are expected to learn everything they are taught. But here, in the work place, in a totally different environment, the student is learning things that will stay with him/her. They are learning how to keep a schedule, how to organize their day, how to manage money, how to deal with the public, and they are successful.
Not only do they attend school all day but they also work all evening and are still getting passing grades while making money. Being able to do this locks the student’s self esteem in place.
There is nothing like a demanding after school job to tax a student and to encourage them to do better. Encouragement from home is needed as much as their own self-encouragement is. This is the first time they will get such an opportunity to learn how to work in the world when it comes time to. Help them be successful and their self-esteem will grow and be with them through their entire working career.