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Apprenticeships were once a path to a lifelong career. Young people in their early teens signed up with experienced tradespeople and learned the craft from the bottom up.
Today, we take a much more enlightened view. We've largely outlawed youngsters going to work. We might feel good about this, but it's the youngsters who suffer the consequences. Our child labor laws have put years of leisure time in the hands of immature youngsters.
Some teenagers are lucky enough to be guided through their difficult years by an adult. Teens can seek out internships or part time work where they learn the interactive skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. They learn how the world really works.
Example: As he was growing up, Billy worked part time helping a neighbor who ran a landscaping business. He learned a lot about maintaining lawns, pruning shrubbery, mulching flower beds, keeping equipment in good repair--and interacting with customers. Billy was particularly impressed with the way his employer talked with and handled homeowners. When he graduated high school, Billy went to college, but he left after a couple of years. Today, he runs a marketing consulting firm and talks about the valuable experiences of his early years handling all types of clients.
Small businesses can benefit from hiring young people. It's part of passing the culture on to the next generation. A youngster has energy, enthusiasm, and naturally wants to learn. Hiring a youngster helps him or her learn self discipline, instills self-confidence and self-esteem by accomplishing tasks, and gets experience in the real world.
Example: Susan worked part time during high school at a local hair salon. She handled the receptionist desk, scheduled appointments, sold products over the counter, and assisted the stylists. She went on to attend a professional stylists school, and today she owns and operates a salon. Without that early start, she might have spent years "finding herself" and putting in place a rewarding career.
Starting early in life is valuable. Part time work by teens introduces them to possibilities they will not learn elsewhere. Not in school. Not in university. Not in playing around, and certainly not in hanging out with other immature teens.
Some of the most successful people I've known did not finish high school, much less college--like my own mother and father. And I know several 40-somethings who are still in college, trying to "find the right career" and connect with the real world. They forever lost those valuable teen years.