Life after school days

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Parenting columnist Ian Munro offers some advice on how to school your teen for the real world.

Ian Munro
Ian Munro

Term three is under way and, for some teens, the writing is on the wall. They’re starting to think about life after school - either once the winter sports season is finished or at the end of the year.

For many, it will end up being a move into further study at tertiary level and for others it will be their first full-time, permanent job.

Some will be moving from casual after-school or weekend work and have some familiarity with the workplace;  for others it will be a whole new world of structure, expectation and relationships.

To prepare your teen for the workplace, whether it’s their first permanent position or just their first summer holiday job, there are some things worth talking over with them.

First impressions count more than anything else towards which path the relationship with the employer or supervisor is going to go down. The cocky attitude taken to impress mates at school won’t go down well. Showing a good measure of respect for these people and the business’s customers is essential.

Being a reliable employee is also of prime importance. The boss needs to know you will be on duty and ready to go at the scheduled time and also that you won’t be disappearing early. With seven-day-a-week operations, early starts and late finishes, your teen needs to understand from the outset what that will mean in terms of commitment and possibly sacrifice. If they think teachers are tough on lateness  - wait until the boss has a go.

Being a willing employee ready to try new things, help out elsewhere, swap a shift or show initiative as appropriate can lead to promotion or an increase in the wage packet and enhance job security. It will certainly help get through those first 90 days. Chatting with friends at the counter or via phone or texting will not. In fact, keep that cellphone turned off during working hours.

The language of the schoolyard or friends at the mall is not likely to be appropriate in the workplace. Listen to how co-workers communicate with each other and with the boss. See what seems to work best. Suggest  they take it reasonably quietly for the first week but having said that, it is also important they are not shy about asking when something is not understood - don’t blunder on. Ask, listen and learn.

And learning means being prepared to take criticism, which can come in many forms. It can be positive and constructive in the way it’s presented or it can come hard and harsh, particularly in a fast-moving environment where safety is paramount. Sometimes it might seem to be unfair. However, unless it becomes harassment or bullying, take it on the chin and move on.


Well and good, but let there be a post school pre work 'rites of passage', even if it's New Year at Tahunanui. Adult responsibility can wait.

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