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Getting Your Teen a Summer Job

Hiring Complaint No. 1
caramel apple vendor at Iowa State Fair
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Bob Stefko

They're self-centered and think they're too special to work hard or follow instructions.

The downside: Managers say Gen Y workers often demand more praise than is realistic and sulk when they feel unappreciated. Productivity is a problem too: According to a survey by, 56 percent of managers feel that today's young people just don't work hard enough.

The upside: It's true today's teens have been lavished with praise, but in many ways it has paid off. "These are incredibly positive kids, with a lot of confidence," says Tammy Hughes, president of Claire Raines & Associates, a Marana, Arizona, organization that studies how different generations relate to each other on the job. "Because these young people believe in themselves and others, they can make big changes in the workplace."

How to help: While your teen will bristle at the idea that people think she's lazy -- she hasn't even found her first job yet! -- appeal to her need to be in the know. Explain that workers are expected to be team players first, and individuals second. So in interviews, teens should be clear that they'll put employers' needs first -- even if they have to give up some prized activities. "Flexibility is the single most important quality managers are looking for," Boyer says. "Kids shoot themselves in the foot the minute they say things like, 'Soccer practice starts the third week in August,' or 'I'll need Thursdays off for band rehearsals.'"