Summer jobs are a right of passage for many teenagers. Being able to earn their own money and be less reliant on their parents is a huge step toward independence. Kids who start working during their high school years are also more likely to develop life skills to help them as an adult. However, maintaining a job can be problematic for teens with ADHD.
If your teen son is struggling to manage his ADHD, he may need additional help. Teenagers already have difficulty managing their time and prioritizing responsibilities. Teens with ADHD sometimes find it nearly impossible to focus enough to follow through with their responsibilities. If this sounds like your son, he may benefit from attending a boarding school for troubled boys where he can learn time-management techniques for teens with ADHD.
As you prepare your ADHD teen for getting a job, there are a few things to keep in mind. Primarily, know that first jobs can be tough no matter what. However, they can also be extremely beneficial. Teenagers who have a job while they’re in high school learn life skills applicable beyond school. Unlike grades in school, a paycheck isn’t dependent on memorization and test-taking. To do well at their job, teens need to demonstrate skills like punctuality, responsibility, and the ability to follow directions.
All of the skills that your teen needs to learn to do well in their first job will carry over into adulthood. Though it may be difficult for your teen with ADHD to start their first job, you can take steps to make it easier for them.
Applying for the job
Step one to getting a job is applying for the job. For many teens, especially teens with ADHD, this can be a daunting task. Before applying for a job, help them narrow down the type of job they want. There are plenty of businesses that offer summer work, but they won’t all be the right fit for your teen.
What are their strengths?
Have your teen make a list of things that they think they are good at. This will help them narrow down jobs where they think they will succeed. If they’re outgoing, they might do well in a customer service job or at a restaurant. If they’re great with little kids, they might do well at a summer camp or a daycare. By assessing their strengths, you teen will learn to look for jobs where they might excel.
What are their weaknesses?
Conversely, have your teen make a list of things that they see as a career weakness. If they hate dealing with grumpy people, they won’t like a customer service job. If they are allergic to dogs, they shouldn’t work at an animal shelter. If they struggle to sit in one place for very long, an office job won’t be for them. By truthfully assessing their weaknesses, they will avoid jobs that are blatantly a bad fit.
Look for available jobs
Help your teen learn where to look for open job positions. This could include online searches, asking friends for recommendations, or even driving around town looking for “Now Hiring” signs. If there is a certain type of job that they want, have them call businesses that offer that job to see if anyone is hiring.
Prepare them for the application process
Make sure your teen knows that they will probably have to apply to several places before they get hired. Teens who are new to the job market tend to take it personally if they don’t get hired. Teens with ADHD can get distracted extra quickly and become disheartened by rejections. Let them know that rejection is to be expected when searching for a new job.
Apply for jobs
When applying for a job, remind your teen that different businesses have different application procedures. Some places want the application to be submitted online. Other places want a paper application to be submitted in-person. For teens with ADHD, they might need to make a list to remember to apply the correct way at each location.
Interviewing for jobs
Even the most basic summer job will likely require an interview. Make sure your teen understands the importance of making a good impression during the interview. They should dress well and stay off of their phone for the duration of the interview. Prep them to be ready for some basic interview questions, and have them practice answering questions with you. Also, encourage them to prepare a few questions of their own.
Succeeding at the job
Once your ADHD teen gets a job, you’ll need to teach them how to keep it. Teens with ADHD tend to have trouble staying focused and remembering to follow through with their responsibilities. Hopefully, your teen will already have some strategies in place from school that will help them during their job. If not, they will need to learn some new time-management and focusing strategies.
Some helpful strategies include:
- Download a calendar app to help keep track of workdays and times.
- Set alarms to make sure they leave for work on time.
- Set alarms to remind them to prep their uniform in advance.
- If they are prescribed an ADHD medication, set an alarm to remind them to take it before work.
- Download a note-taking app to write notes, so they don’t forget what their boss says.
If they work somewhere with a supportive supervisor, encourage your teen to have a conversation with their supervisor about the kind of support they will need to be successful. Following through with the job requirements is still your teen’s responsibility, but it will be helpful if their supervisor is supportive and teaches them some job skills along the way.
If your teen refuses to address their ADHD, you may need to get outside help. Some teens refuse to admit that they process things differently from their peers, which causes them to struggle as they get closer to adulthood. Managing ADHD requires acceptance, and it requires a commitment to learning new strategies to follow through with responsibilities. Contact us at Sundance Canyon Academy to learn more about our life skills training for teen boys with ADHD.