Providing for My Family

Supporting your child is one of the biggest responsibilities of being a parent.

Right now, you might be thinking it makes more sense to work full time than to finish high school. After all, no one pays you to go to school, and you’d have more hours available to work if you weren’t in school.  Did you know that people who graduate from high school tend to make more money than people who do not? Many jobs require a high school diploma or a GED. For the best future for you and your child, staying in school is the way to go. Young parents often drop out of school, but there are flexible options to help you get your diploma or GED. Check with a guidance counselor at your school to see what kinds of alternative education programs are available for teen parents, like online classes or schools with flexible schedules.

Ways to Find a Job

  1. Ask around. Check to see if any of the places you usually go are hiring. Ask friends and family to let you know if they hear about any jobs you could do at the places they work or go.
  2. Look online. Many businesses post ads on websites when they are hiring. Your local newspaper may have a classified section on their website with job ads.
  3. Join a job training program. There may be programs in your community for teens or teen parents to help gain job skills. One of those programs is Michigan Works. Visit www.michiganworks.org or call 800-285-9675 for your nearest one-stop service center. Your public library is also a great place to learn more about job programs and to get help with your search.

Things to Consider in a Job

  1. Schedule. How many hours can you work? Who will take care of your child while you are working?
  2. Location. Is the job close enough to walk to, or near the bus? Will you need to drive or get a ride?
  3. Skills. What kinds of work could you do? Do you have any special skills or experience that make you a good worker for a certain kind of job, like knowing how to work a cash register, or being able to get along with people?

How to Apply and Interview for a Job

 1. Apply. When you find a place that’s hiring, it’s likely the first thing you’ll do is fill out an application, either on paper or online. The application will ask for your contact information, work experience, and probably a reference or two.

A reference is a person who knows you and or your work experience. Good references are: a former boss (if you’ve had a job before), a teacher who knows you well, or another adult from your community who you trust, like a clergy member or coach. You usually can’t use your parents or relatives as references. Always ask someone before you list them as a reference.

A workplace might also ask for a resume. Check out these helpful tips for writing a resume. Even if you don’t have work experience, you can put other experience you have as a volunteer or in school activities or clubs on your resume, too.

2. Interview. After you’ve applied for a job, if the company is interested, they’ll ask you to come in or talk on the phone for an interview. This is when they ask you questions about work, your skills, and how you’d handle situations if you got the job.

3. Offer. If the company wants to hire you, they will offer you a job. The offer may happen at the interview, or awhile after. Often, they’ll tell you at the interview when they plan to make a decision, if not, it’s okay to ask!

Rocking Your Job Interview

A job interview is the time to present yourself at your best and show that you can do the job. Use these tips to do your best:

  1. Arrive early. Try to get to your interview at least 5 minutes early. If you can’t make it on time or at all, call them as soon as you can to explain why.
  2. Dress for success. Your clothes for a job interview don’t need to be expensive but they do need to be clean, unwrinkled, and appropriate. Avoid jeans, t-shirts, and other very casual clothes.
  3. Be positive. Employers want to hire friendly people who are easy to work with.
  4. Practice. Ask a friend or family member to help you practice asking common interview questions like “What are your strengths?” or “How have you solved a problem in the past?”

For more great interview tips, check out: Interview Tips for Teens at Teenforce.org

A Quick Note About the Law

The USA has laws about employment for people under the age of 18. If you are under the age of 16, you can only work a certain number of hours per week, and if you are under 18, you may not be allowed to perform some jobs. Visit Youth Rules to learn more about the laws for youth workers.

There are also rules about what an employer can ask you about during an interview. Among other things, an employer can’t ask you if you are pregnant, if you have children, if you plan to have more children or if you are married.

Once You Get a Job: Being Professional

Once you’re hired, your employer will tell you when you should come to work, and what you’re expected to do when you’re there. You can show them you’re a great employee by being professional. Some ways to be professional are:

  • Arriving on time for work.
  • Finishing the work that is your responsibility.
  • Staying off your phone while you’re working.
  • Asking questions if you don’t understand something.
  • Being respectful to your coworkers and customers.
  • Looking for ways to be helpful.

Finishing school and finding a job you like is a step towards financial independence, and being able to provide for yourself and your child. It might not be easy to do, but it is worth it.