Friday, January 06, 2006

Entering the World of Work

My son got his first "real" job today (at Wendy's, like a lot of teenagers). I'm really proud of him. He's been putting off getting a job for a long time, even though most of his friends work (he will be 17 in February). To a certain extent, I can see where he's coming from. Once you start working, you'll never have another summer to sit around and do (essentially) nothing again. I distinctly remember that sensation when I got my first job. On the other hand, I also don't think he really understands just how much money he's going to be making with this job. He's never had an allowance. I've always felt that the world isn't going to give you anything for free, so there's no reason not to start teaching basic economics early. He's always had the opportunity to earn money by working around the house, babysitting his little sister, etc. I realize that many people who give their kids allowances also require them to do chores, or else they lose their allowance. While that may work out to be the same thing monitarily, the association of work=money isn't quite as strong. So far he's been happy with the piddling he makes from us, so he hasn't really wanted to get a job.

Ah, but college is coming soon, and we won't be paying for it. As a college teacher myself (and my wife agrees with this observation), it's always very obvious who has parents paying for their school. The kids don't show up for class and really don't care if they fail it -- after all, they can always take the class again. On the other hand, when it is your money that is going down the toilet, that $300 per class starts to really mean something. i don't know many 18-22 year olds who are willing to simply flush that kind of money away -- if it is their own. Same thing with driving. My son has to pay for his own car insurance and gas -- that's part of the cost of operating a vehicle. He hasn't had a job to pay for it, so he hasn't driven since getting his license. I think it's odd that it wasn't a bigger motivator, but hopefully the lesson will pay off when he learns how convenient it is to be able to drive yourself places.

Wendy's isn't the world's greatest place to work, but it's a good start for a teen. He's done a good job!

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