Having older kids, the conversation recently turned to them getting jobs. My worry is that school work might suffer, which is important. Probably less important is how old it will make me feel if the kids are old enough to get jobs! I do think it’s good for kids to work, though. Especially outside the home, though chores are also beneficial. Teenage employment teach responsibility and give kids the satisfaction of their own money. It also doesn’t hurt to pick up some skills and experience to help them when they enter the adult workforce. What all this has made me think about is the variety of jobs I had as a teenager.

The first few were a little bit unusual, now that I think back.

Teenage Job #1

While other teenagers were working the deep fryer at the local takeaway stores, I started my first job as an after-school dental assistant. As teenage jobs go, it was a bit unusual. My boss worked until 9 pm most nights in the oldest dental surgery I’d ever seen. The carpet was so worn out that it was completely threadbare down the middle and leading up to the cracked-vinyl dental chairs. As well as being a man dedicated to long hours, he was also very fond of not spending a cent.

This job taught me a few things, like how to help calm down people who were freaking terrified. As a 14 year old girl, I did a lot of hand-holding. Mainly, it was kids and middle-aged women that I found were the most in need of reassurance.

My boss had a VCR and a television that was high up and angled, so the patient could watch while they got their dental work done. I thought this was pretty good, because I could watch, too. The novelty soon wore off, though, because my boss would always choose the movie out of the few videos he had. He always picked the same one; The Flintstones Movie. Now, I love John Goodman and Rick Moranis as much as the next person but I have purposely avoided that movie for 20 years because believe me, I have seen it more times than anyone should.

I was paid bugger-all and it got to the point where I just hated it. I couldn’t face cleaning out the spittoon or watching The Flintstones ever again and I resigned.

Never, ever again.

Teenage Job #2

My second teenage job was far more entertaining. I became a Wilderness Society koala. Each weekend, I’d head into the city to pick up a koala suit and locked collection bucket. They’d assign me a place and I’d be back on the train, carrying my bucket and suit. A friend and I often went in together and would try to get collection points close together. Wearing a furry suit meant I spent a lot of time hugging kids and rattling my bucket.

I hated approaching people directly for money and would instead jump around, singing ridiculous songs to try to entertain passers by. I thought I was pretty good at it, too. Hindsight tells me I did okay donations-wise not for my talents but because people probably felt quite sorry for me. I’m not sure what lesson to take from that, other than the knowledge that I really can’t sing.

It beat the hell out of  anything involving a spit suction machine. We were paid a percentage of whatever we’d collected and it was fun. It was hard when summer really hit, though. There was only one suit with cut-off style legs and the competition was pretty fierce. One day, a group of teens tried to steal my bucket of coins. There was a helluva tug-o-war, which I won. I then pulled out my mobile phone to call the police. Terrified, the teenagers came back and begged me not to, emptying their pockets to make up for their attempted robbery. I let them go and hung up the koala suit not long after, for good. Having to fight like that was not for me!

Almost what happened to me.

Teenage Job #3

My mum came across an ad in the paper and encouraged my boyfriend and I to apply for this one. With one phone call, we became gardeners at a huge cemetery. Our boss (whom I won’t name because I just looked him up and he’s still working though he must be 80!) was quite a character. He’d round us all up and divide us into groups to weed certain areas. He was terrifyingly loud and would make random remarks about our appearances mid-conversation. Things like “The rose gardens there really need tidying up and yes, you’re a very pretty girl, not sure why you’re here. Use that wheelbarrow there. Don’t come back ’til it’s full of weeds!’

We would all start early in the morning and work until we’d had enough. The boss would then pay you for the day (in cash!) and off you’d go. As well as being loud and sometimes inappropriate, he was also hiring teenagers and backpackers with no clue what they were doing. Consequently, I got myself and my boyfriend fired because we pulled out a bunch of seedlings that I thought were weeds. I’m no master gardener these days, but I can generally tell the difference between a plant and a weed!

Essentially, a dramatic re-enactment of the moment before my first firing.


What was your first teenage job?


#IBOT @ Capturing Life.

Gifs via Giphy.

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  • Hugzilla

    Hahahha before you even posted that Idiot Box gif I was thinking about that scene. Classic movie.

  • I did a gap year between school and uni and worked in a small boys’ private school around the corner from my house. All the boys were called Henry or Alexander, were aged between 4-7 and the woman who ran the joint was mad as a March hare. I got paid one pound an hour and sometimes, they even let me take the (tiny) class. It was such a hoot. After that, I worked at McDonalds in the UK and the US and it all went downhill from there. I spent my Maccas career on the french fry station and to this day, just the smell of those fries makes me want to gag!

  • I worked in a $2 store. It was a decent enough first job. I like it when it was busy cos the day went fast.

  • Oh how mean trying to steal a donations bucket whilst you were in a koala suit! That would have put me off for sure. Very interesting first jobs. My first job was as a sales assistant in a Outlet shopping centre. I used to think I was the bee’s knees although I’m pretty sure they underpaid me. It was my first job because I could never get one in England as a teen despite trying!

    • I wonder why- not many jobs for teens over there??

  • Talk about character building! My first job was a boring checkout chick! I hated it. I expect my kids to get part time jobs and drive them to do so by promising not to buy them a car. We’ve said we will match dollar for dollar with a loan if they require it, but I want them to learn how to strive early. So far it has work for 2 out of 5, but it’s a work in progress.

  • Oh I love the koala suit Amy. Mine was when I was underage and lied to get the job in a supermarket. Yes I got caught and couldn’t work there anymore.

  • Goodness me, Amy, what a big lot of learning experiences there. I remember seeing those Koalas about…you might have been one!! My first paid job was babysitter on a regular basis for neighbours two doors down. I often stayed the night, so they didn’t have to deal with the kiddos in the early a.m. and I was paid doing something I loved!! Probably one of the reasons I became a teacher. Our kids had part-time jobs as teens, and now I am seeing my grandkids doing the same. It is good for all of us to ‘answer to people other than teachers and parents.’

    • I liked babysitting, too- always had fun with the kids and let them eat junk haha!

  • You had the BEST jobs when you were young! I would have killed for any of those jobs as I slaved away in my waitering job at the age of 11 getting paid $2.50 an hour. OMG, you wouldn’t go back would you!?!

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    My first job wasn’t until I went to uni (I wanted to finish school first and I really didn’t have a life to fund so it was okay to be poor!). I started in a service station and hated pretty much every moment of it. Your jobs sound so much cooler and fun!

    • My friend worked in a servo- it had some interesting moments, for sure!

  • Ha ha! My first job was selling 10kg bags of fertilizer over the phone. I lasted 1 shift and sold 1 bag. I didn’t even go back to claim my $8 commission 😂.

  • I used to love those wilderness koalas. I interviewed one once for a uni assignment. I got my first teenage job at 14 and 3/4. I worked at Diana Gift Shoppe selling gifts, wrapping presents, dusting and vacuuming. A pretty cruisy job. I stayed there until I was about 19, I think!!

  • I had an unusual first job too – working for an interior decorator as her assistant. Sounds glam. Basically involved ironing curtains.

  • I worked in a fruit and vege shop. They must have really thought that I was trustworthy, as when my boyfriend and his friend came and bought some watermelon, my boss followed them out and asked to see their receipt, which I don’t remember if they had kept or not, being teenaged boys, but I dod recall being pretty pissed.

  • Very impressed with your koala job – I couldn’t handle a suit on me – too claustrophobic!! I hope you have pictures. Video shop and babysitting queen for me. I saved a calendar from back then – I was cashed up from $3/hr lol xx