Children at work

When children start paid work, it can be interesting to compare their different approaches.

Worried woman wearing mask speaking on phone in empty cafe


Daughter three started work last week and it is interesting to note the different approaches to work of different young people.

Daughter one was searching for work when it was more difficult to find it if you didn’t have much experience. At school she had worked in a charity shop and done work experience in an office where she did a lot of spreadsheet filling. Asked about her impressions of the job and organisation, all she could find positive to say was that the office was open plan. A statement of fact rather than an opinion.

She tried temping, but the branch she went to only had jobs that were almost impossible to get to unless you had a car. She went for interviews and approached them as a conversation. Although she didn’t get one of the jobs she went for [because there wasn’t a post available at the time], the HR team commented that she was a really genuine, interesting and engaged person.

At the job she did get, in a cafe, she went in to talk to the owner taking her CV. The owner remarked: “She sat there for maybe two hours being effortlessly adorable. After sitting there for hours alone she finally plucked up the courage to hand her CV to me, saying: ‘Hiii, just wanted to hand in my CV to you. I’m a friend of x and I think she may have mentioned me for a job here.'” The cafe owner asked her why she had been sitting there for so long. “I didn’t want to disturb you. I saw you were working so hard,” she said.

She became a favourite at the cafe and customers came in just to talk to her because she always liked to have a conversation with people and she was interested in and looked out for everyone. I have a photo of a napkin where the customer had written simply “Love the girl on the till.”

Daughter two did work experience at a school and only mustered yes/no answers at interview, but left with the children referring to her as “Miss Lovely”. She got a job during the lockdown working at a pub/restaurant. Her job search strategy was to find the nearest one to her house, which, on the up side, means less driving around for parents at anti-social hours. She went for the job based on a neighbour’s recommendation and was basically hired on the spot with no interview, which was lucky given her previous interview technique.

During her time there the place nearly shut down due to staff shortages. We went in once for a drink and she served us, but she was extremely keen for us to give the place a wide berth for fear we would unduly embarrass her.

Daughter three has always been extremely organised. She spotted early on that daughter two was getting minimum wage and that there were other starter jobs which offered more. She did her research, created a CV and applied for a job on a pound an hour more than daughter two despite the fact she is younger.

I drove her to the interview and quizzed her on common interview questions. It turned out that I didn’t need to. She had four sheets of notes. I asked her how the interview went and she reeled off her replies to the various questions. It was highly impressive, all about how she wanted an opportunity to learn. She was given the first job she applied for and started on Friday afternoon/evening – in at the deep end, handling Deliveroo orders, customer complaints and all the cleaning up which meant she finished half an hour after her shift ended. I know because I was outside in the cold waiting.

Only son is looking on with interest, although his main comment has been that he is hoping for some discount meals from daughter three in the near future. By the time he gets a job, it will no doubt be in the virtual world. He’s already fed up with secondary school and is yearning for the halcyon days of homeschooling. Noooooo.

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