July 22, 2015

Ask Andrew ... I'm 14 - do I need a summer job?

In keeping with the summer jobs theme from the first Ask Andrew article, today's question is from a 14 year old who wants to know whether she needs a summer job.

Q. I'm 14 and just finished grade 9. My parents say I'm too young to get a job but my grandfather said that he started working when he was 12. Do I need a summer job?

Honestly, it depends on your individual circumstances, but I'm inclined to say that no, you do not need a summer job at 14.

Unfortunately, the reality is that your summer job options are limited due to employment laws that mandate minimum age requirements for certain jobs and organizational insurance practices and policies. For example, many retail establishments only hire employees who are 16 years of age or older because their retail insurance policy mandates that you need to be at least 16 to handle cash.

However, that's not to say that 14 year olds cannot find a summer job. When I was an employment counsellor with Service Canada, two of my hardest-working, most-decided clients - who also happened to be 14 - received multiple job offers to work during the CNE. So it is possible, but you'll have to spend a lot of time looking for a job that's right for you and an employer who is willing to hire a younger employee.

Although you might be able to find a summer job with one of the CNE's exhibitors, retailers, or food service kiosks, I'd recommend that you search for a volunteer opportunity as you will gain two immediate benefits: experience for your resume; and completion of the 40 hour community service requirement.

And then, armed with experience, new skills, and a solid reference, you'll be in a better position to land a part-time job during the school year or a job next summer.

Thanks for your question - and good luck! :-)