Is that what having a job means to you? Maybe it did when you first started out in your career? Further down the career track, it probably means maturity and responsibility and is the way you financially support yourself (and your family), with any leftover money going into the rainy-day fund, your children's education and if you're lucky, then other exciting choices on what money can buy in life.

If you were to ask a teenager what having a job means to them, then they would say that it's all about earning enough money to buy a life of freedom and excitement. It's quite a different answer. Making money from a job for a teenager is all about buying clothes, being able to afford to go out with their friends and acquiring the latest technological gadget. Money also equals the first big step towards independence from their parents and the freedom to choose what they do with it.

Maturity and responsibility doesn't really come into the equation when teenagers start out in the working world. After a couple of months in a new job, they learn that it really does matter to turn up to work on time, to wear the right clothes/uniform and to pay attention to what your new workmates and Manager is telling you. Over time, freedom and excitement comes from having the choice to work in a job you are good at and enjoy which then enables us to earn a good income.

Gaining a strong work ethic, doing what is expected and achieving a reputation from your employer that they would be happy to tell others about, only comes from having a job in the first place, then being able to stay in it long enough to prove your value and worth.


If you were to ask a teenager where they would go to get good career advice, you might be surprised at the answer as it would be quite different to your own experience, especially if you haven't moved jobs for a while.

Think back to when you started out in the workforce. Your success probably relied more on who your parents knew or what your school Teacher/Career Guidance Teachers told you at the time. There was no such thing as the internet and SEEK or Trade Me, only the daily newspaper to check job advertisements, job boards at local malls and your family's circle of contacts.

The method of job seeking has changed dramatically for young kiwis now venturing into the workforce for the first time. Teenagers are more likely not even talking to their parents about what's happening in their life, let alone asking them how to apply for a job. They can ask their friends but will probably get a blank stare or "I dunno". They can go on to the internet to apply for jobs on-line but are likely to get stopped when asked to attach an electronic CV and answer questions about themselves that require a high level of self-awareness and clear thought on how their skills contribute to the job they are applying for.

Applying for a job as a teenager in New Zealand has never been easier with the advent of the internet. Job opportunities are abound as are the many tools available on how to apply for one. However, the communication barriers that currently exist between teenagers and their parents, means that a teenager's most valuable career advisor, interview critic and potential network of employers from a person who has done it all before, is not their first choice on where to go for help, in fact it may be their last option.

Very few agencies offer career guidance programmes specifically designed for teenagers in mind that assist them in finding their ideal career pathway while offering practical tools and the confidence to enter the workforce successfully. The benefit of your teenager undertaking a programme of this type means that they get to talk to a 'Career Coach' about their interests and skills and what they would like to do as a career, which they might not feel comfortable talking to their parents about.

We all entered the workforce through our first job. Without that first step in our career, we wouldn't be where we are today. Many people helped you along the way but none as important as those that helped you get your first job.

Make sure that whoever your teenage son or daughter talks to about their future career and applying for their first job, that they are given the best advice to ensure they have the freedom to choose a career that is both exciting and prosperous.