Originally created 01/11/00

Work a fact of life for some



Few adults have the option of not working in today's world.

Most teens don't have to work to survive, but many do so for a variety of reasons. For most, the driving force is simple: money.

Many teen-agers are partially or completely responsible for their expenses because of the the cost of living. Expenses may include car payments, insurance, gas, schools supplies, clothes, food, and -- if there's any left after taxes -- spending money.

Teens who work solely because they want to are in the minority. These teens also want a sense of independence combined with responsibility. Some actually enjoy what they do.

Teens working part-time are a common sight at grocery stores, fast-food restaurants and department stores. These stores rely heavily on the teen population for holiday and summer employment.

While few teens consider high school employment as preparation for the future, in some cases part-time jobs can lead to lifetime careers.

I got my first job at 15 as a bagger at Winn-Dixie. I was eventually promoted to a cashier and after working there for a year and a half I became a customer-service manager and bookkeeper. Now, I have almost more responsibility then I can handle.

I have enjoyed the position I am in now. Being in a leadership role prepares me for things to come. I have learned what it takes to be in charge and build trust with fellow workers. Not just any business will let a teen-ager handle large sums of money.

But there are some disadvantages to teen-age employment. Many working students need to devote more time to studies and are limited because of long hours or fatigue. There's another downside when students miss out on normal teen functions such as parties and sporting events.

Teens should know jobs are out there. You just have to search and be able to handle the pros and cons, as well as the "no's" and "maybe's." If you persevere, there's an opening for you somewhere. Sometimes that first job is necessary to get you where you want to be.

Teens need to be mature enough to deal with adult situations, since they are working in the adult world. Sometimes that's difficult, but after all, it's your choice "to work or not to work."

Here are more tips on getting that first job:

1. Always act professional.

2. On your interview, wear something nice.

3. Be knowledgeable of current events and happenings in the company you're hoping to work for.

4. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

5. Always remember, if you are in customer service, the customer is always right.

Alston Carter, 18, is a senior at Harlem High School.