If you’ve reached that point where you’re starting to feel like your teenager’s personal ATM – regularly dispensing cash for new clothes, movie tickets or pizzas – it may be time for them to start earning their own money.

Part-time jobs are a time-honoured tradition, even something of a rite of passage, for teenagers. Many students get their first jobs while in high school and continue to work part-time throughout their college years. Whether it’s merely for pocket money or to fund a major life goal, gainful employment puts more than cash in their pockets: it arms them with important life skills that will serve them in years to come.

Benefits of a part-time job

For the vast majority of us, adulthood entails working for several decades – so introducing your children to the reality of finding and keeping a job is the best way to prepare them for that certainty. More than that though, securing work and earning an income can benefit teens in multiple ways.

Money management

Once teens start earning, money takes on a new meaning. Rather than simply asking for cash when they want to purchase something, they will start to relate the cost to hours of their time: a $150 pair of shoes suddenly represents 15 hours of their time at a $10/hour job – or a full weekend working. Being able to buy things with money they have earned themselves offers a different level of satisfaction and a greater appreciation for the value of money.

Having an income also teaches you how to manage it: this is a chance not only to learn about the practicalities of opening a bank account, but also to budget, allocating portions to different outgoings or saving for their college fund.

Responsibility

Beyond financial responsibility, being employed instils allround responsibility in adolescents. They will be expected to be punctual, and depending on the work, they may be expected to deal directly with customers, to handle cash or to work as a team. Knowing that their performance directly affects the business’s overall reputation and success is a sound introduction to responsibility.

Work experience

It’s an age old conundrum: if businesses only employ people with experience, how do you ever get experience? Traditional teen jobs often don’t require experience and thus provide that all-important first step into employment. And of course, having work experience is a big plus for their resumes, college applications and future job applications.

Insight into jobs and industries

Work experience exposes young adults to different industries and roles, from customer-facing roles or working with kids to office-based positions. If they enjoy the role, it might prove a stepping stone and a chance to make professional contacts; and if they don’t, at the very least it helps them rule out industries they don’t want to work in.

When a part-time job is not right

Although there are studies that show students who work less than 15 hours per week get better grades in school, the reverse may be true when students work more than 15 hours per week. A part-time job might not be a good idea if:

  • their grades suffer as a result of working

  • the time demands of a job oblige them to give up extracurricular activities

  • they are not motivated or interested in the job – in this case volunteering with an organisation that aligns with their passions may be more rewarding

  • they are prone to anxiety or stress and risk being overwhelmed by the responsibility

  • they may spend the money on things like alcohol or cigarettes

Is your teen ready for a job?

Children mature at different rates, and while some may be ready for a part-time job at 14, others will still struggle at 17. Signs that your child is ready to work are:

  • Timekeeping Can your child manage their time responsibly? A teen who regularly oversleeps, misses the school bus or is late for class is unlikely to be punctual at work.

  • Communications Skills Does your teen communicate clearly? Is he/she comfortable conversing with adults? Most jobs will require them to speak to colleagues, superiors and customers in a professional manner. Teens who are nervous around adults or are afraid to ask questions may not be ready for the workplace.

  • Awareness Does your child dress appropriately for a situation, arrive prepared with the materials they need, and show a professional demeanour? These are all positive signs - but if they tend to go to school looking unkempt, forget their homework or have a tendency to get into trouble, they may not yet be ready for the responsibility of a job.

Of course, these are not deal-breakers: in some instances the responsibility of a job may be the incentive they need to behave more maturely. Ultimately, your teen has to want to work. If they are reluctant to apply for jobs or go to work, they are unlikely to make a good impression, perform well or to get positive references.

What jobs are available to teens in Cayman?

Per the law, non-Caymanians can only seek gainful occupation in the Cayman Islands with a Work Permit – which legally will not be granted under the age of 18. Children who fall within this category are still able to pursue unpaid volunteer opportunities. For Caymanian children, there are lots of parttime positions regularly made available to high schoolers and college-aged students. We have listed some popular options here. Another option for Caymanian children is a paid internship in Cayman.

Grocery Bagger: Most major grocery stores take on students to bag groceries. This type of job requires no specific skills and will instil punctuality, customer service and responsibility. Teens looking for bagging jobs at grocery stores can approach any in-store manager with employment inquiries.

Babysitting: Babysitting is a good option for those looking for casual work that they can accept or decline depending on other commitments. Babysitting requires a certain level of responsibility and suits those who enjoy spending time with children. Start by asking neighbours, family, and friends if they need help with little ones. Teens can also look on Ecaytrade.com under ‘Domestic Help’ for babysitting opportunities.

Dog Walking: For those who like animals, walking dogs or pet sitting can be a good source of casual work. Busy professionals who lack the time to walk their dogs or do other tasks around the home and garden may be willing to pay teens to help out. Ask friends and neighbours if they have any leads or consider placing an advertisement on Ecaytrade.com.

Reception: Hair salons and spas tend to be busier at the weekend and often take on students to help on reception during these times. A great option for those interested in the health and beauty industry, and who like interacting with customers. Reach out to local salons or spas to express your interest in a part-time position.

Retail Associates/Servers: Saturdays are busy shopping days and retail outlets often take on extra staff at weekends and around the holidays. Jobs in retail give teens experience in customer relations, cash handling, stock keeping and inventory, among others.

Tutoring: Students with an aptitude for maths, science, English or languages may be well placed to help younger students who require extra help with their studies. As well as in-person tutoring, there are numerous online tutoring sites that take on college students.

Online Jobs: For teens who are tech-savvy there are numerous ways to earn some extra cash online. For those with an artistic eye, there is always demand for website and graphic design, and for those who love to share their opinions there are plenty of sites that pay teens to complete online surveys – or they could start their own blog or vlog.

The ‘Job’ section on Ecaytrade.com is a good resource for all of the above areas of work. Some companies and people seeking employees for small businesses will also advertise there. However, remember that advertising your paid services on Ecaytrade.com is only legal if you have the right to work in the Cayman Islands, i.e. Caymanians and/ or Work Permit holders.