3 tips for your first job

My 15 year old daughter starts her first job today. Her first job other than babysitting and working for her dad, that is. This is a job in an office that may involve paper and computers.

She doesn’t know exactly what she’ll be doing and she only briefly met the woman she’ll be working for, so she’s understandably a little apprehensive.

image courtesy @bizior via stock.xchg

These are the conversations we’ve had over the past week:

  • What is appropriate attire for a teenager working in an office
  • Who to talk to and what to say when you first walk into the office
  • How to have a conversation with your manager about your already-planned vacation

Starting a new job can be so nerve-wracking.  I last did it 4 years ago – 20 years into my professional life – and still felt like the new girl on the first day of school.

I know my girl will have a good day, after the first 5 minutes, because she’s smart, has a strong character and good sense of humor, and appreciates the opportunity that’s been given her.

And the adults she’ll be working for want her to be successful.

It’s a fine line parents of teenagers walk between being helpful and inundating our children with information and advice.  So this week as I contemplated this big new step for my daughter, I came up with three brief tips for her:

  1. When you are given any instructions, repeat them back. “So you’d like me to alphabetize these files by company name, then put them into the file drawers.”
  2. If at any time you don’t understand what you’re supposed to do or you’ve forgotten, ask. Don’t fake it.  “I’ve alphabetized the files and put them into the appropriate file drawers.  But I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten what you want me to do with this check sheet.”
  3. When you finish a task, ask for more work, don’t just sit there waiting for further instructions.  Do anything – straighten out the magazines on the coffee table in the lobby if you have to!
Last night I told my daughter I had some tips for her and asked if she’d like me to share them.  She didn’t respond “well, you’re going to tell me anyway” nor did she write them on her palm. I shared my advice, trying not to lecture or be too verbose.  She actively listened, nodding her head in understanding.  This kid is going to have a great day today – I can’t wait to hear about it!

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