It isn’t summer yet, but it soon will be time for the teenage job market to open up for high schoolers looking to start their working careers. Even though these first jobs will probably not become careers, there are a lot of ways the first job does shape the habits and expectations you have about the working world. Some of the standards have always been there: Getting to work on time, not goofing off on the job, doing what you are hired to do, and being trustworthy have always been part of the picture.
But today’s teens are already networking and have a social media presence long before they start thinking about earning a paycheck. Because they are so familiar with digital interactions, and because they are immature, the idea that what they say and do online will affect their future is hard to grasp. It isn’t uncommon for someone to suggest their child work in a friend’s business and find out that their kids’ online activities were unacceptable for the position’s standards. How embarrassing is that?
If you have made an effort to continually ask questions like “Can social networking get you fired?” and listen to your child’s answers, you begin to see what their perspective of online activities is. Pointing out the realities, cases where that behavior did cost a job, furthers the discussion. Start talking about how important online branding is and what it is. Challenge them to do their own research and prove you wrong when you say that employers will look them up online.
This can go a lot of directions every time you have the conversation. Cyber-bullying, sexting, and all the rest of it are hopefully going to come up so you can hear what your teen has to say and tell them what you’ve learned. Online behavior didn’t used to be on the “getting your teen ready to have a job” list, but these days it is probably up in the top priorities.