Do you remember your first job? For most teens in previous generations, a first job meant babysitting, working the register in retail, stocking shelves at a grocery store, or if you were lucky, taking on a skilled job like lifeguarding at a local pool. Chances are you were in high school and you worked after school or during summer break on a part-time basis. 

First jobs sure have changed in the last couple of decades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), teen labor force participation has been on a downward trend, and that trend is expected to continue well into 2024. This decline in participation means that there are fewer teens employed in the U.S., but there’s also fewer teens who are actively looking for work.

There are several factors at play that could be causing this trend of fewer teens looking for work. One major factor is the high demand of today’s admissions to colleges or universities. More and more students are spending what free time they have after school and during breaks getting ahead with test preparation classes, volunteering, and working unpaid internships to bolster their college résumés and applications.  

Many other students find that there is less time in the day as schools are pushing for longer school days and school years to “get it all in” or meet state mandates. Whatever the reasoning behind the downward trend of teens gaining employment, the pattern can put millennials and Generation Z at a disadvantage. 

young person working

Why a First Job Is So Important? 

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that there are multiple reasons why a first job is critical in the evolution of a young person’s career timeline. Employment can be beneficial for youth by teaching responsibility, organization, and time management and helping to establish good work habits, experience, and financial stability.

Having a first job isn’t just about building a good work ethic. There are so many other skills that come with the process of applying, being a good employee, and how to handle the financial responsibilities that come with a first job. 

A first job can set a teen up for future success by learning the following skills: 

  • Money-management skills, such as saving, budgeting, and being a conscious consumer. 
  • Build self-confidence and develop a sense of responsibility.
  • Gain knowledge of what he/she would like or NOT like as a career path. 
  • Learn basic work skills such as putting together a résumé, interviewing, and how to work with different colleagues. 
  • Learn how s/he plays a role in a business. 
  • Learn the importance of being on time, doing a good job, and taking responsibility for their actions. 

The MassHire – North Shore Youth Career Center provides quality, comprehensive employment and career services to area youth ages 14 – 24.

young man working

Our services are no cost to North Shore youth and include:

  • Resume Writing
  • Job Search Resources
  • Job Referrals
  • Job Application Assistance
  • Interview Preparation
  • Career Exploration & Planning
  • Workplace Readiness Workshops
  • HiSET Preparation Programs

Visit our site and click on Young Adults to learn more about our programs to help teens and young adults find employment in your area.