I was blessed to grow up with parents that
forced gave me the opportunity to work through high school and college. It taught me invaluable life lessons and helped to keep me out of trouble. It helped teach me various life lessons that I have kept with me and that have served me well to this day. If I could have my way totally I would force give my sons the same opportunity that I was blessed to have. I would make it apart of their growing up and have them get 3 certain jobs in a specific order as they pursue their studies and future careers. Here’s how it would go and why:
1. First Job: Fast Food Industry
While they are in high school, I want my boys to work in the fast food industry. I want them to make minimum wage for most of the time they do it too.
Why: I want them to start at the bottom. I want them to learn that they don’t deserve any job. They earn it. I want them to learn how to serve people and how to make an honest dollar. I want them to be humbled by serving their friends and school mates. Its a hard lesson to learn when you have to serve your friends their dinner on their way to a movie on a Friday night. I want them to learn the hard lesson that sometimes you have to work while others play. I also think it important to have them work while they are still at home so, as a parent, I can walk them through things like; asking off from work well in advance, how to schedule priorities, how to handle criticsm from a boss or manager, and how to save and spend their money. I would also hope that working in fast food would spur them on to further themselves through their studies.
2. Waiting Tables
After high school and when they reach college, I would want them to wait tables. Waiting tables is hard work. It is stressful. You have to learn how to work on your feet for long hours at a time. You have to learn how to time and manage things well so that all your tables get served in a timely manner. If you are good, you learn how to read people, their body language, and you learn how to anticipate needs before anyone asks. Great lessons for marriage.
You also learn a valuable economic lesson. Rather than getting paid a certain amount per hour of work, your compensation depends on the amount of hours you put in, the quality of the work you do while there, and how hard you are willing to work during all that. Two people can be waiting tables, one guy puts a smile on his face, picks up extra tables when possible, and hustles to make sure his tables are happy. The next guy tries to make it through his shift, gives up tables to the first guy, and tries to get cut as soon as possible so he can get home to play Xbox. The two guys might be there for the same amount of time, but the first one is going to walk away with more money in his pocket 99% of the time.
Also, waiting tables teaches you a valuable life lesson. Sometimes your hard work isn’t always rewarded. Most people do a pretty good job at tipping their waiter depending on the service they receive, but not always. From my experience, it is about 60/40. 60% of people tip well based on the service, while 40% are bad tippers no matter how well you serve them. But to let the 40% affect your work negatively is to give up on the 60% that will reward you for your smile. Hard work in the end does always pay off.
Going out to eat is a pretty big staple of American life and if I learned anything by waiting tables, it was to remember that waiters are people, not servants. That waiter at your favorite restuarnt is a person, with a life outside the restuarant, with their own problems and struggles. Remember that the next time your water doesn’t come with a lemon. Hopefully my sons will learn that same lesson by being on the other side someday.
3. Construction or a Trade
After waiting tables for most of their college days, or in the summer, I would want my boys to work as a laborer in the construction industry.
Why?: I want them to see the value of working long days, full of hard work, on something they can see and build with their hands. They might work in an office someday sitting at a computer for long hours, so I think that the experience of actually building something with their hands is important. Of course, they wouldn’t really be building anything as laborers as much as they would be just around it. They would be moving large amounts of lumber, carrying sheetrock to the actual ones hanging it, or hoisting roofing shingles up a ladder, oh and in all probability getting yelled at a lot while doing it. I think this will show them the value of getting up early to a job and staying late. They will see the value and skill in not just working with their mind, but the talent it takes to work with their hands. They will work with some rough people, sometimes, not always, and will have to learn how to be a positive witness to Christ in the midst of that. Hopefully they will learn to fix things on their own or to at least not be afraid to try. (This will provide ample fun family stories about “The time dad tried to fix…) And most importantly, they will learn how to work till they are exhausted and dirty, in freezing weather and scorching heat, go home proud of a hard days work, only to get up at 4:30 am the next morning and do it again.
So what jobs would you add to my list and why? What jobs as a teenager help form you the most? I’d love to hear what you think.