Teenagers: Why You Should (& Shouldn’t) Get a Job

I’ve been working a “Dead-end” job for about two weeks now. While it’s not my ideal work I’m obviously getting something out of it. If I wasn’t taking any value from the job I would’ve quit by now.

With that being said, I’d like to use this post to offer you some perspective and challenge you to consider whether getting a job (or continuing to work) will help or harm you.

Disclaimer: This post is intended mainly for teenagers whose families are financially stable. If your family needs you to get a job for financial support or you’re living alone and need one to stay afloat you’ve obviously got a lot less flexibility.

Regardless of your circumstances I can’t be held responsible for whatever you decide to do. I’ll try to offer you useful perspectives and get you thinking, but you’re going to know your situation far better than I do and ultimately it’s your responsibility to decide what’s best for you (and/or your family).

With that out of the way, here are several factors to consider.

School

If getting a job is going to cause you to slack in school you probably shouldn’t get one. In the past I’ve written that college is unnecessary. I still stand by that and believe that there’s alternative options for those who don’t want to follow the traditional path of graduate high school, go to college, and get a decent job.

However, as I’ve grown older my belief around this has matured. I’ve come to realize that while for some people additional schooling may not be their best option, for others it can be. If you don’t have any skills that people are willing to pay you for (or at least the self-discipline to develop them on your own time) you should probably go to college or some type of trade school.

You can talk about ‘passion’ all you want, but at the end of the day you need to put food on the table. You can continue to develop the skills you’re passionate about in the meantime, but you’ll need some type of work to sustain you until being paid for your passion is a viable option.

I’m ranting, but long story short you need to be introspective. If you have reason to believe you can work and achieve academic success; that’s fantastic! If you’re not yet at that point, however, it would be in the best interest of the majority of us to forget about work and simply maintain good grades.

(Hint: If you’re a junior or senior in high school many schools will allow you to do a “work-study.” If you elect to go this route you’d spend part of your school day taking classes and part of your day working at your job. This could be a good balance for those wanting to work, but not wanting to be overwhelmed with a full load of courses as well.)

Social Contact And Social Skills

If you’re already living in social abundance, having a job vs. not having one probably won’t affect you too much. If you’ve got great social skills and people are constantly hitting you up to hang out then you’ve got plenty of opportunities to socialize. Living in social abundance is great because to a large extent it’s a self-sustaining structure.

Constantly being hit up by people gives you many opportunities to socialize. Having many opportunities to socialize allows you to develop (or maintain) your socialize skills. Having good social skills leads to more people wanting to hang out with you and thus the upward spiral perpetuates itself. Awesome.

Unfortunately, if you’re on the other side of the spectrum you’re fucked. When nobody wants to hang out with you it causes both desperation for social contact and the erosion of your social skills. Needless to say, this combination is incredibly potent at repelling other people and opportunities to socialize. As a result your social skills become even worse and you become even more desperate for people to hang out with.

This is an incredibly debilitating downward spiral and one that requires a Herculean effort to pull yourself out of. Fortunately there’s a cure. It’s called getting a job.

The great thing about a job is it essentially guarantees you a certain amount of social contact each day (at least the majority of teenage jobs do). This doesn’t mean much when you’re already coming from a place of social abundance, but it can be huge if you’ve spent your entire life in the realm of social scarcity.

The social contact a job provides can be the thing that allows you to develop your social skills and helps you move beyond the paradigm of social neediness.

Summary: If you’re a socially adept individual getting a job may allow you develop skills in customer-service, but the degree to which you benefit socially from a job will likely be modest (especially considering the fact that work may get in the way of your other opportunities to socialize).

However, if you’re coming from a place of social scarcity getting a job could prove to be one of the best things you ever do. Being forced to interact with customers and coworkers for several hours per day may be the environment that gives you the opportunity and leverage to become a more social person.

Efficiency And Effectiveness

Getting a job may benefit your ability to be productive or take away from it depending on how much you’ve already got going on.

For example, I often find it easy to procrastinate when my only obligation for the day is to write a blog post. When I’ve only got two hours of work to do it’s easy to spend the entire day watching stupid videos or lackadaisically wandering the house and sometimes I never even get around to writing the blog post!

On the other hand, if I go on a streak of trying to write a blog post, record a video, juggle, do chores, go to work, go to soccer practice AND attend a social event everyday I get burnt out. I can sustain that level of activity for several days, but in the long-term I end up getting less done when I attempt to do too much.

This is something you need to consider in your life. How much do you already have going on? Are you lollygagging around your house restless because you need something to do? Or are you already stressed because you’ve got too much going on?

If it’s the former you’d likely benefit from getting a job. You’d begin to develop time-management skills and probably become more productive outside of work as well.

On the other hand if you’re already stressed because of how much you have to do you probably shouldn’t get a job (at least without dropping some of your other activities first).

Company Culture

This may sound very esoteric and “woo woo,” but something I’ve noticed is that different places tend to be enveloped in different energy fields that bring different characteristics out of people. It’s almost as if the collective consciousness of an establishment causes us to tend to gravitate to a certain level of consciousness ourselves.

Maybe we could speculate that this is caused by mirror neurons and us socially pinging off of each other to see how we should behave in different environments. That’s an educated guess, but who really knows? I think to ignore the phenomenon, however, would be completely ignorant.

You’re going to tell me that you’ve never walked into a library or spa and instantly felt calmer? You’re going to tell me that you’ve never been at a football game where the defense intercepts the ball for a 95-yard touchdown, and you can feel the energy of the stadium change?

You’ve got to understand that there’s going to be an element of this phenomenon wherever you work. The energetic field surrounding an organic family owned restaurant is going to be completely different than that of a mass-scale factory farm where workers torture the animals for fun.

This is an extreme example, but it’s something to think about. You’re the sum of both the 5 people you spend the most time with, as well as the 5 places you spend the most time at.

Dealing with a few complaining customers may be a manageable amount of bullshit that could potentially serve to strengthen your emotional immune system. However, being in a place where you’re forced to be around negative people, and low consciousness energy fields will likely result in you adopting some undesirable behaviors yourself.

You have to evaluate what other benefits you may be able to obtain from working at such a job and the degree of emotional resilience you have in not allowing negative people and energy to significantly affect you.

Money

You probably think I went a little crazy during my explanation of different establishments being inhabited by different energetic fields. I stand by what I said, but I’ll admit that my ideas can be a bit off the wall at times so we’ll come back down to Earth again.

Money. Dolla Dolla bill yo $$ It’s something we all want. Some of us want it for shoes, some for bling, and some because we think it’s going to make us happy (it won’t).

This would appear to be a pretty obvious area. Working a job must win in this category because you either work a job and make money, or you’re unemployed and you don’t. Right? Wrong. Nothing’s that simple on my blog 😉

There’s a lot of ways to make money without a formal job. I’ve got a friend that babysits for $15/hour. She’s making more than double minimum wage and because she’s working for three different families she’s getting far more hours than most people our age as well.

I don’t care to babysit so it’s not something I’ve researched, but consider looking into it. You may or may not be able to command the same type of wage she does, but I’d imagine if you put a modest amount of effort into it you could make at LEAST minimum wage.

Don’t like babysitting? Start a grass-cutting business. Consider building websites or mobile apps for companies if that’s your kind of thing. Buy and sell shit on Ebay. Get creative!

Or, if you can’t be bothered to get out there, become a minimalist. You don’t need to be working 40 hours a week if your parents pay for your food and you don’t spend your money on stupid shit.

Ultimately, here’s the question you need to ask yourself, “Is selling my time (my most valuable resource) for cash worth the experiences and material goods that money could purchase?”

If you enjoy your work, experience significant personal growth through it, or are saving money for a particularly compelling experience the answer is probably yes. If not, you’re probably better off not getting a job.

I know we went off in a bunch of different directions in this post, but I hope the many different perspectives we considered helped you gain some insight into what may be the best decision for you.

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. Are you going to start applying for jobs now? Are you going to quit your job? How has this blog post changed the way you think? Let me know. In the meantime I’ll be anxiously refreshing this page waiting for your comment 😉

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Pictures are a bird’s nest and some flowers. Both pictures taken in Dallas during Spring Break 2014.

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