Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Earn Some Money?
“I want a job that makes good money.”—Tanya.
MANY youths share Tanya’s sentiments. “I want money to buy a car and to be able to go out and buy clothes,” says a youth named Sergio. “I don’t want to be dependent on my parents for everything.” Young Laurie-Ann has a similar reason for working. “I’m a girl, and I like to shop,” she says.
Little wonder, then, that according to the magazine U.S.News & World Report, “3 out of 4 [U.S.] high-school juniors and seniors now troop off to work after school and on weekends.” To some extent, this reflects the unbalanced “love of money” that is so prevalent in today’s materialistic world. (1 Timothy 6:10) However, not all income-seeking youths are succumbing to materialism.
“Money is for a protection,” says the Bible. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) And there may be a number of legitimate reasons why as a Christian youth you may want to earn some money.a Young Avian, for example, explains why he works two days a week: “It allows me to support myself as a regular pioneer [full-time evangelizer].”
There may be similar reasons why you may desire to obtain a part-time job. Perhaps you have the goal of attending a Christian convention. Or maybe you need some more clothing that would be appropriate to wear at congregation meetings. In any event, these things require money. True, Jesus promised that God would provide for those ‘seeking first God’s Kingdom.’ (Matthew 6:33) But this does not rule out your taking some initiative in this regard. (Compare Acts 18:1-3.) What, then, are some practical steps you might take if you need to earn some money?
Assuming that your parents agree to your taking on some work, your first task might be to approach neighbors, teachers, and relatives and let them know that you’re looking for work. If you’re shy about asking them directly, you might simply ask them what they did for work when they were teens. They may give you some useful ideas. The more people who know that you are looking for work, the more leads and referrals you are likely to get.
Next, try newspaper want ads and information boards in stores, your school, and other public areas. “That’s how I got my job,” says a youth named Dave. “I looked in the paper, faxed them a résumé, and called them up.” Did you realize, though, that many jobs are not advertised? According to Seventeen magazine, some estimate that “as many as three out of ten jobs don’t exist until the right person comes along.” Perhaps you can convince an employer that he needs to find a job for you!
But how? ‘I have no experience,’ you may think. Well, think again. Have you ever taken care of a younger sibling when your parents were away or baby-sat for others? This shows that you are responsible. Have you helped your dad fix the car? That shows that you may have mechanical aptitude. Do you know how to type or use a computer? Or did you get good marks for some innovative project? These are good selling points for prospective employers.
Don’t overlook your hobbies and interests either. For instance, if you play a musical instrument, see if there is a position open at a music store. You are obviously interested in the store’s products and would surely be in a good position to answer a customer’s questions.
Applying for a Job
Suppose you have made an appointment for a job interview. Give attention to your dress and grooming, as your appearance makes a statement. It can say “responsible, neat, organized”—or just the opposite. The Bible is practical when it encourages Christian women “to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind.” (1 Timothy 2:9) That also applies to men. Never wear faddish or sloppy clothes to a job interview, no matter what kind of work the job involves.
Your attitude and manners also say a lot about you. Practice the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. (Matthew 7:12) Be on time for your appointment. Be enthusiastic and alert. Use good manners. Without boasting or exaggerating, explain why you feel you are qualified for the position. Be specific.
Some experts recommend that you bring (or send ahead of time) a neat, well-organized résumé. It should include your name, address, telephone number, employment objective, education (including any special classes you may have taken), previous job experience (including both paid work and volunteer work), special skills, personal interests and hobbies (these may shed light on your capabilities), and a note that references are available upon request. You might also prepare a separate sheet listing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of some individuals who could recommend you for the job. Make sure, of course, that you ask their permission in advance. These could include former employers, a teacher, a school counselor, an older friend—anyone who can testify to your skills, abilities, or personality traits.
Working for Yourself
What if despite your best efforts you cannot find a job? This is common in many lands. But don’t despair. Starting your own business could very well be the answer. The advantages? You may be able to set your own schedule and work as much or as little as you wish. Of course, being self-employed requires that you be self-motivated, disciplined, and willing to take the initiative.
But what kind of business could you start? Think about your neighborhood. Is there a need for goods or services that no one else is providing? For example, suppose you love animals. You could offer to bathe or trim your neighbors’ pets for a fee. Or maybe you play a musical instrument. Could you perhaps teach others to play? Or maybe it is a matter of doing work that others often disdain, such as washing windows or cleaning. A Christian is not embarrassed to work with his hands. (Ephesians 4:28) You might even try learning a new skill. Check libraries for how-to books, or ask a friend to teach you. Young Joshua, for example, took a class in calligraphy. Then he started a small business designing invitations for weddings and parties.—See the box “Jobs You Can Create.”
A word of caution: Don’t rush into any enterprise before studying all the costs and factors involved. (Luke 14:28-30) First, talk it over with your parents. Also, talk to others who have run similar businesses. Will you be required to pay taxes? Will you need to obtain licenses or permits? Check with local authorities for details.—Romans 13:1-7.
Keep Your Balance!
Of course, there is the danger of taking on more than you can handle. Laurie-Ann said of some employed youths: “They don’t do a lot of homework, and they’re too tired to pay attention in class.” True, in some parts of the world, youths have no choice but to work long hours to help their families survive. But if you are not in that situation, why go overboard in this regard? According to most experts, working more than 20 hours a week while attending school is excessive and counterproductive. Some suggest devoting no more than eight to ten hours a week to work.
Use up too much of your time, energy, and alertness on after-school work, and your health, grades, and especially spirituality can begin to slip. Yes, it is not only adults who have been choked by “the deceptive power of riches and the desires for the rest of the things.” (Mark 4:19) So keep your balance. Solomon warned against excessive work, saying: “Better is a handful of rest than a double handful of hard work and striving after the wind.”—Ecclesiastes 4:6.
Yes, making money may be necessary. And if your motives for doing so are wholesome and godly, such as young Avian’s, mentioned earlier, you can be sure that Jehovah will bless your efforts. Make sure, though, that you never get so tied up with work that you forget “the more important things,” namely, spiritual interests. (Philippians 1:10) Although money may be “a protection,” it is your relationship with God that will make you truly successful.—Ecclesiastes 7:12; Psalm 91:14.
a The “Young People Ask . . . ” articles appearing in the November 22, 1990; December 8, 1990; and September 22, 1997, issues of Awake! weigh the pros and cons of after-school jobs.
[Box on page 22]
Jobs You Can Create
• Washing windows
• Selling or delivering newspapers
• Shoveling snow
• Gardening or doing lawn work
• Feeding, walking, or bathing pets
• Shining shoes
• Mending or ironing clothes
• Growing produce and selling it
• Raising chickens or selling eggs
• Doing typing or word processing
• Running errands
• Making deliveries
• Teaching music or other subjects
[Picture on page 21]
Excessive work can cause your grades to drop