Summer jobs

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Summertime is the best time for young people to have their first employment experience. When I was a preteen/teenager, getting a summer job was as easy as throwing a rock. The Department of Labor laws have made the restrictions for potential employers to hire underage employees increasingly difficult. Not impossible though.

Our oldest daughter has found an opportunity this summer working at the Fayetteville Public Library in the operations department. Our public library is not simply a building full of books. It is a community center with thousands of resources for the citizens of Fayetteville, Ark. The recent expansion of this public building includes expanded technology, a theatre and stage area, video editing suite and more; I could go on and on about this place. We are so thankful our daughter is experiencing working there and serving the people who work there. She has already learned valuable skills such as time management, taking direction from authority and professionalism. 

Our second child, also a daughter, loves business. She is constantly thinking of great ideas for activities and programs to make money. A young entrepreneur for sure. Recently, she asked me for a loan so she could purchase some bracelets and jewelry. Through social media, she started a small business re-selling pretty bracelets and bangles to friends. She created an Instagram page and a fulfillment system to collect payments and make timely shipments to her customers in a matter of a weekend. Her older sister helps her too. Pretty sharp for an eighth grader, but I am a little biased in my opinion.

Our 11-year-old son has the micro sprint racing bug. He and his dad are always working on new strategies to get his car to run faster and more efficiently at the track in Catoosa, Okla., where they spend most of their Saturdays. We have been approached by a few friends with companies who are interested in becoming inaugural sponsors during his rookie season. This has been flattering. He and I recently worked with local vendors to create team hats and t-shirts and are planning to sell them to his growing fan-base. I have worked off and on in marketing and advertising for over 20-years, but I am certain this son of mine has been one of my toughest clients. He sure is fun to promote.

You would think the baby of our family would have the lightest work ethic, but that is not the case. Our youngest son is 9. We consistently tease the gentleman (a busy, working bachelor) who lives next door to us about keeping his yard mowed. In jest, our son offered to mow it for him once a week for a nominal fee. Surprisingly, our neighbor took him up on his offer. He faithfully mows this man’s yard each week, and ours too. I think the baby has made more money this summer than the other three combined.

I adore my kids. I brag on them because I am so proud of each one of them. Are they perfect? Nope. But they are learning skills to become responsible adults. Summer jobs are just one part of teaching them how to utilize their gifts and work ethic to support their wants, needs and dreams. Getting a summer job is not as easy as it was when I was growing up. If you have the opportunity on your farm or in your business this summer, give a kid a job, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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