Employer Spotlight – Jasmine’s Experience
“I love working with youth,” Jasmine, a hiring manager from Kroger, expresses. “They just have so much passion. And they want to work!” She’s right: young people want to work. Maybe they’re saving up for their first car; perhaps they want to help their family out; or they could be saving up for college. We may not know the exact reason why, but our youth want to work. And employers like Jasmine are here to give them that chance.
I spoke with Jasmine about her experience working with youth. She told me a story about a young person she took a chance on: a young woman in her community, Koby, turned 16 and reached out to Jasmine because she wanted a job. She had seen an opening at the attached Starbucks, but wasn’t exactly sure she wanted to be a barista. Jasmine sat down with her, better explained the position and what she would be doing within the job. After some more coaxing, Koby decided to accept the job. “She’s now my most dependable employee after only 4 months,” says Jasmine. “She wanted, and was willing to work. She loves it so much now!” Accepting the job at Starbucks helped Koby feel a sense of achievement. She was going somewhere; she was going to make something with her life. All because of this first job she got at 16.
Uncertainty about a position is just one of the challenges employers like Jasmine face when hiring youth. For many, it’s their first job and they may not know what is expected of them. They may not understand work-related skills, like showing up on time or the cell phone policy. Often times when working with minors, Kroger requires parents to be present for signing paperwork and legal documents. It can be tough finding a time that works for both the youth and their guardian.
However, once that young person is hired on, Jasmine can attest that there are many, many more rewards than there are challenges. “They make my job easier. They make my other employees’ jobs easier.” Jasmine can assign some of the more entry-level tasks, such as bagging and gathering up carts, to the younger workers who aren’t or haven’t been trained yet. This in turn frees up more experienced workers to do tasks they are more qualified for.
Not only does a first job give a young person a sense of triumph, it also helps prepare them for the workforce. Many employers express concerns about the interpersonal skills of their employees of all ages. Hiring a young person and helping them develop those kinds of skills can better prepare them for workforce success in the future. An entry level position teaches young people soft-skills like computer work, basic real-world math, and communication. “Customer service is huge here,” says Jasmine. “We teach our youth about service with a smile; to be friendly and helpful at every turn. These are skills you can take anywhere, to any job.”
Hiring youth does come with its challenges, but it can be a rewarding experience for both the employer and the young person. To employers not certain about hiring the younger generations: “take a chance,” Jasmine suggests. “Teach them to be the best they can be. You’ll get a quality worker, and they’ll get a sense of pride and accomplishment.”