Without a doubt, getting a job is the first step towards personal freedom: earning your own money, controlling your schedule, managing your time –– you mature quickly, and that is something that is awesome and terrible at the same time,
The day after my 16th birthday, I had my first shift as a crew member at a popular Midwestern chain near my school. Now – nine months later – I can say that getting a job so early was a decision I have come to regret and wish to change. There was so much I wish I had known and so much I wish I was prepared for. I wish there was someone to tell me what I should’ve known before I got my first shift. So before you apply for that job, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:
Am I able to commit to this job fully?
Unfortunately, many employers expect work to be your main priority. Administrators and managers tend to label school and extracurriculars as unneeded and overbearing. This label about your commitment to your education can make you wonder, “Am I able to keep this job?”.
If the answer makes you tilt your head, consider reevaluating your schedule and ability to manage both school and work. Oftentimes, striking a good work-school balance comes with time and experience. Remember, what you THINK could happen is not always what WILL happen.
Who am I doing this for?
Your reasons for employment, be it a restaurant or department store, should be clear. Pursuing a job to please your parents or to meet expectations will negatively impact your attitude at work. You may begin to doubt your decisions and wonder, “Can I make everyone happy?”
First, remember that your commitment is monetary. In exchange for your work, you’re making money and taking responsibility for your future. Make smart decisions with your money, such as saving for college and monitoring your spending and as a result, your parents will come to appreciate your maturity.
Second, it is impossible to please everyone. You need to weigh what’s more important between your personal justifications and your social pressures. Your job has expectations of you and it is also crucial that you meet those expectations without driving yourself crazy.
What will I learn?
At such a young age, the lessons of responsibility and hard work are universal. But looking deeper, be sure to assess what your first job stands to offer you. Does the work interest you in a career in hospitality? Entrepreneurship? Food services? Think long term about how your work now can benefit your future.
THE HARSH REALITY
With getting a job, there is a lot you’re going to miss out on. Your social life will have to be set aside to make time for homework, scheduled shifts, and more. You may feel that your job is separating you from your friends who don’t have similar commitments or responsibilities. (I’ve felt this myself.)
Remember that maintaining a job at a young age implies for the future, with the potential to gain the ability to pay for your college, buy your first car, turn a key to your first place; these outweigh the social stresses. Of course, be sure to make time for friends and leisure, but try to keep your responsibilities and duties in mind as well. Work should always come before playtime!
Getting a job is a monumental moment in your life. It is undeniably the first step towards taking full control of your future, and that is a triumph in its own right. My job keeps me leveled, and the paycheck reminds me of the purpose of hard work. However, before you dive deep into the realm of your maturity, double-check, reassess, and confirm your abilities to get the most out of your work. Only by then you will be able to reap the benefits of your newfound freedom and become fully prepared for anything life throws your way!