It’s about that time: Summer job time, that is. In just a few weeks, high school and college students will be looking for and filling short-term jobs that can help them earn some money before classes start again in the fall. From lifeguard to office assistant, your student’s summertime job can be a great opportunity for them to get out of the house–and do something productive–and to learn some real-word lessons.
In some cases, though, the lessons they learn may be hard to take, especially if they include messing up on the job. While you may want to step out of the way and let them learn on their own, you can still help them prepare for a short-term, summer job by giving them guidance on some of the basics. To that end, here are a seven tips to share with them before their first day on the job:
- Remind them to dress appropriately. If your student is a lifeguard, of course, a bathing suit is totally appropriate. If your student is working in an office or with the public–and doesn’t have to wear a uniform–help them choose clothes that are appropriate. Shorts too short? Pants too tight? Shirts don’t cover enough skin? Discuss with them what they plan to wear or have them show you their outfit. Many young adults are so used to wearing what is trendy or comfortable that they truly need help making decisions about what we consider as professional attire. As we know too well, it is always best to have your student err on the side of caution. Some guidance with what is a “cautious” outfit will be appreciated by the boss.
- Impress on them to be on time. Every time. Punctuality is about being reliable, and reliability is extremely important with short-term jobs. Your student should be the one the boss describes this way: “She is consistent. Never misses a shift. I always know she will arrive on time.” Instead of the one the boss describes this way: “She is late sometimes. I never know if she will show up.” Discuss with them strategies for ensuring that they are able to arrive on time such as finding a fast route to work and leaving earlier than typically needed to give them a time “cushion” should the traffic be heavier than usual.
- Talk to them about avoiding social media. The conversation should be about not using social media while on the job and about not posting anything about their job online. Twitter is not the place to vent about a surly customer. Instagram is not the place to post work “selfies” either. Remind them to keep their social media accounts set to private and keep their job off the list of topics and photos that they share with friends and family.
- Help them communicate clearly. Your student may need to ask for time off, explain an issue with a customer, or just let their boss know that they are sick and cannot come to work. Each of these situations take good communication skills, and each of these situations can be complicated if the words your student uses are not clear. Consider coaching your student before they talk to their boss. Practicing good communication skills will make them feel more confident.
- Suggest to them that they should go above and beyond. One of my former bosses liked to “under promise and over perform,” which means doing more than what was asked. Talk to your student about finding ways to add value to their work. A babysitter who provides a written list of the kids’ day and accomplishments or a sales associate who cleans up a spill on the floor can impress their bosses for their willingness to do more than asked.
- Teach them to apologize for messing up. Chances are good that a young adult in a short-term job will make a mistake or two. Talk to your student about how to apologize for small and big goofs. A young adult who takes ownership and is able to communicate remorse is someone to be admired–too many older adults have difficult with this! Coach them on how to deal with errors appropriately and professionally.
- Suggest them to ask for feedback. Even if they don’t have a formal review or evaluation as part of their job, encourage your student to ask for suggestions for improvement. If they don’t want to ask for face-to-face feedback, then have them create a Google form that allows the boss to give them feedback at their leisure. That information can help your student change the things they need to change and continue doing the things that are working. Plus, they will have information about strengths that they can use in an application for a future job.
Summer jobs can be fun, but they can also be a great opportunity to learn and grow from the experiences. Helping your student make the most of those experiences can be a great way to have them practice being out on their own for real.