EmploymentSocial Issues

What Working At Sixteen Has Taught Me

One of my closest friends, Victoria, has been working ever since she turned 16. She’s acquired quite a few jobs throughout her student years, ranging from being a hostess at a local restaurant to being a part-time sales clerk at Wal-Mart. I decided to have a quick chat with Victoria about her experiences in youth employment, and what she’s learned over time. 

Let’s kick things off with the first question. How has working from a young age helped you, Victoria? 

Working from a young age definitely helps you develop professional skills that you will need. These skills are critical to find jobs later in life, and gives you insight on what it’s like to be in a real work environment. For instance, one of the main things I learned was time management. I learned not to procrastinate, and be organized with my time and schedule. Working can also boost your confidence. You learn how to interact with others on a professional level, giving you some life-long people skills. Social skills are extremely important at work, whether it’s interacting with co-workers, your boss, or customers. The sooner you learn how to interact optimally with others, the better it is for your long term career plans. 

I know that job interviews can be a stressful thing. Do you have any interview tips? 

When you have an interview, it’s always better to be over-prepared. I think it’s so important to do practice questions in front of other people, whether it’s your family or friends. This boosts your confidence, and gets you used to talking professionally about yourself.

Also, over-preparedness can translate into your clothes and first impression. It’s much better to be a little more formal than too casual, since it shows that you’re really serious about the job you’re applying for. If you do little things, like bring an extra copy of your resume, or make a positive and professional comment about the company or organization, you can stand out to your interviewer.

Lastly, first impressions are super important, so make sure you have a great, smiley attitude! I noticed that when I’m smiling more, the interviewers seem to mirror my attitude and warm up to me. However, if I’m doing an interview on a bad day and my negativity leaks into my speech and mannerism, the interviewers will likely notice and assume the worst about my day-to-day attitude. Make sure your positivity and good attitude is always there!

For my last question, do you have any tips for youth of recent working age? 

My main tip for youth is that any experience is good experience. Don’t be picky about where you work, and don’t expect to get a good job! I know this sounds harsh, but it’s unrealistic to have high expectations when it’s your first job. Sure, people might look down on you a little for the position that you have, but you’re acquiring great work experience for later.

At sixteen, I had the worst time working in retail. My boss treated me like crap, and the customers were unbelievably rude. But because I stuck it out for a while and got the experience, I was able to move forward and eventually get a better job. As bad as it sounds, it’s the truth. 

Even if you’re miserable, there’s always something good in each job. Your co-workers can be great, and you can bash the mean manager together. But do it off-hours.

And… yeah, that’s about it! Just remember to find a silver lining at your job, get more experience, and soon you’ll be working at an awesome location with a great boss. Don’t give up!

Victoria is now studying business at Wilfrid Laurier University. She continues to have part-time jobs throughout the summer months, and is currently working on her new startup company.


Want to learn more about INKspire? Check out our organization's website.

Want to learn more about INKspire? Check out our organization's website.
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