Teens Volunteer - An Introduction To The Work WorldWhy Volunteer?
If your young teen is a bit nervous at the thought of working a real job for a real boss, he can gain confidence and experience first by working as a volunteer. Teens that are not comfortable in a variety of social situations may find adapting to the demands of the workplace difficult. Figuring out how to fit in with co-workers and trying to understand the job requirements while under pressure to perform well can dramatically impact a teen's attitude toward working. Most teenagers realize that paid employment differs from school in a couple of major ways; actual money, the possibility of being fired for not performing well enough, and the fact that this is the beginning of his adult history that follows him for much of his life. Beginning with volunteer work is a lower-pressure, less stressful introduction to the world of real work.
How Volunteering HelpsVolunteering gives your teenager the chance to work for someone other than a parent with a group of people other than only their same-age peers. Mixed age groups offer the opportunity to observe adults interacting as a team to accomplish a goal, adults that may be strangers to each other at first.Your child can watch the give-and-take required as the other volunteers figure out the best way to get the job done -- there may be mild power struggles for authority. These situations are valuable for the teenager to observe as he watches how it plays out. Volunteering in several different fields expands that experience as well as exposing your teen to differing management styles; one boss may require speed and quick thinking, another may be impressed by a friendly attitude and great customer service skills. Variety also will help your teen discover the environment that best fits his interests and work style.
Make Your Teen Aware
During these early teen years is the time to comment to your teen on people's work habits when you're waited on at a store or business. Draw your teen's attention to the cleanliness and order (or lack thereof!) where you are a customer, discuss your appreciation of the helpfulness and smiles of service people you deal with, the efficiency and knowledge of workers. It won't hurt to also recount to your teenager how you had a complaint about a service that was cheerfully and speedily corrected. Bad experiences and how they could have been handled better are also things your teens needs to hear about. He will have relevant stories to share as well, from school, remembered family experiences, or with friends. Now is when these situations will be particularly noticed as your teen begins thinking of entering the working world.
How To Start
You may need to take your young teen along with you while you're the volunteer a time or two first -- your teen should be an asset to the team, not a detriment; while learning, he may need a guiding hand. Be careful not to allow too much dependence on you though; he's there to work, not do chores for mom or dad. Help him see the difference.
You or your teen may already have ideas for interesting places to start; if not, this site can get you started:
- What are Some Volunteer Options for Teens?
Brief and Straightforward Guide: What are Some Volunteer Options for Teens?
Making the value of the work personally obvious may be a start for hesitant types. I participate in a food co-op, this link is the second page of an article about the co-op that discusses the need for volunteers and how to get involved