Authored by Anne Schmidt, Youth Services Prevention and Outreach Supervisor
As school comes to an end and summer begins, more teens may start looking for jobs. Jobs and internships during the summer are a great way for teens to learn new skills, make new contacts, and to build their resumes. Summer jobs are also a great way to figure out what types of jobs might be interesting to you in the future. Some teens might find they like working in an office setting, others might find they like the hustle of working in the food industry. It can be a valuable experience to try a variety of job settings when you are still a teen.
One of the things that teens may struggle with as they enter a new work environment is how to act in a professional or work environment. Work is not like hanging out with your friends (even if your friends might work at the same place) and it’s not like hanging out at school. A work environment is a place where there are certain expectations for behavior. Here at Youth Services we employ several peer mentors in our after school programs, prevention, and Milestone programs. Youth Services also partners with DWS to provide summer internship opportunities in the County. As part of these programs we train the teens about how to act in a professional environment.
Here are the top 10 rules of professionalism that we think can benefit teens:
1.Appearance-Before you show up to work on your first day you need to know what you should wear. Can you wear shorts or sandals, or is there a required uniform? It should be a priority for you to look neat and clean because you will be in a professional environment. Make sure that you ask any questions you might have about what to wear, how your hair should look, even about piercings and tattoos.
2.Be on time-Know what time you are supposed to be at your job. If you are taking public transportation make sure that you know where the bus/train drops you off and if it will arrive and pick you up at the correct time. Ask questions about what you should do if you are going to be late. Who should you call if you are going to be late, is there a policy about being late, will you be fired?
3.Watch your demeanor-Your demeanor is how you appear to other people. Teens should appear confident but not overly confident. Summer jobs and internships can provide teens with opportunities to learn new things and have exposure to agencies and people you might not otherwise get the opportunity to meet. You want to appear friendly and polite. You want to be well-spoken, especially if you are working in a customer service setting. Make sure that your interactions with your coworkers and supervisors are pleasant.
4.Be Reliable-Be where you say you are going to be. Complete the tasks you say you will complete. Your supervisor wants to be able rely on you. Having a reliable employee is sometimes better than a skilled person. A person can learn new skills, but some people may never learn to be reliable.
5.Watch your mouth-Remember to be careful what you say. Watch your language. Remember that you are not at school talking to your friends. Using slang or swearing does not translate well in the workplace.
6.Phone Etiquette-Be careful with your cell phones. Make sure you know the rules about phones before you show up at work. Watch your texting, snap chatting and picture taking at work. Some of these activities could get you fired. Ask questions if you are not sure what the policy about phones is at your job.
7.Don’t Gossip-Be careful what you say to your coworkers and about your coworkers. It is great to be friendly with the people you work with, but be careful what you repeat. Don’t start any rumors, remember to stay professional.
8.Don’t overshare – If it’s not about business, it’s none of your business. The work place is not the place to share your personal woes. Also be careful about posting things about work, your supervisor, or your coworkers on social media; those things do not disappear and people will see them.
9.Be organized-Make sure you know what your schedule is and arrange to be there with all the things you need to be successful. Keep your workspace (if you have one) clean and organized.
10.Offer to help-Be willing to try new things and learn new skills. Get outside your comfort zone because this is how you will stretch and grow. The more things you try the more marketable you are to future employers.
Salt Lake County Youth Services and other county agencies offer a summer jobs, internships and peer mentor programs. Check with us on openings by calling 385-468-4500.