Trying to get accepted to a college of choice can be a stressful, long and difficult process. For that reason, many young people choose to either delay it or hold off altogether until they feel they’re better equipped to handle it. Others may have reasons that pertain to deciding to get a job instead to help out the family, which might be in need and could use an extra income.
When the decision is made to get a job before entering college, many young people can be bewildered by what to do, since in many cases it’s their first job they’re getting. To try and help, the parents as experienced elders routinely get involved in softening the blow.
Some parents go overboard though for their help, and they “hover” over their kids to such a high degree that they’re known as “helicopter parents.” Many others put helicopter parents to shame by being hyperaggressive in “mowing down” their kids’ obstacles and are known as “lawnmower parents.” While taking a keen interest in helping their kids land a job is noble, there are ways to do so without being overbearing, just supportive.
Helping to Fill in the Gap Year
A growing number of young people, like former President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia Obama, are deciding to take some time off before they start college. Usually, it’s about a year, and so it’s called a “gap year.” Some colleges and universities call it a “sabbatical year”; Princeton University supports a “bridge year,” with nine months of free tuition for students in the freshman class who are interested in committing to doing volunteer work overseas. During that time, they find employment that relates to whatever they’re trying to achieve long-term in the career they’re building.
This is an important time. The job they take can be instrumental in helping them determine if an idea—even if it’s just a germ of an idea—they have for their career path is really best for them or if a redirect, or pivot, is necessary. It’s also a way for them to build key relationships that can help them either during college, regarding securing a part-time job or an internship, or after. Parents can help their kids find a job for their gap year by teaching them about what informational interviews are, and then guide them in the ways to find a company of interest and a contact name for the company from a resource such as LinkedIn. Informational interviews are perfect opportunities for young people to ask decision-makers at a company about what it’s like to work at the company, without the pressure of it being an official interview. They can subsequently see if there’s a place for them at the company until they go off to school.
When Indecision About College Can Be Fruitful
Occasionally, young people may want to put enrolling in college on hold for the foreseeable future until they can make up their minds about what it is they want exactly to do next with their lives. Parents shouldn’t freak out about that, but instead, help their child find a suitable job in the meantime. Most job searches begin by checking the available jobs online. Parents can help their child locate open positions through Craigslist and in the jobs sections of the websites of specific companies, such as All Year Cooling open positions, that they may qualify for or be interested in. Even with little to no experience, many companies would be happy to hire a young person eager to learn and work hard, and there are still a respectable number of jobs across the country that don’t require a college degree.
When It’s Prep Time, But Not College Prep Time
After being fortunate enough to land a job interview, it will be important for the child to understand what to do during this question-and-answer session to get the job. This is perhaps the most important piece of the job-getting puzzle. One of the smartest strategies parents can use is to rehearse the interview with their child multiple times. The parent will pretend to be the potential interviewer and ask relevant questions, such as “Why do you want to work for our company?” This is the perfect time for the parent to provide useful tips regarding being brief, knowledgeable about the company, articulate and engaging.
Until There’s an Actual Acceptance Letter . . .
Not every child wants to go to college right away; maybe it’s a temporary decision, or it could be longer lasting. Parents can support their decision lovingly and give them good advice about how to get a job and support themselves. By not running the show for their child, they’ll provide them with enough independence and confidence to help them mature quickly and become independent thinkers.