Intervene in Teen's Job Search?

Updated on June 04, 2012
D.M. asks from Newbury, OH
19 answers

My then 15-year old daughter applied online for a lifeguard job at a local YMCA branch. She is Red Cross certified, a good student with great references. She is also very sweet, if I may boast. She was called in for an interview, and called back a week later to pick up employment papers to be filled out and returned including W-4, employee manual, lifeguard and swim instructors handbook, school work permit, physical, etc. , She excitedly told me she would be teaching swim lessons in addition to lifeguarding and would start as soon as her background check was returned, which, she was told, takes approximately 2 weeks.
She gave her 2 week notice at the restaurant where she had been washing dishes for nearly a year, so to be ready to start as soon as her background check returned.
She also called a local water park, that had approved her application and asked her to start training, to let them know she had taken another position.
Three weeks went by and phone calls to the woman that hired her went unanswered, so she called the program director who told her to be patient, the checks sometimes take longer.
FIve weeks later and unanswered voice mails she e-mailed the program director and got an e-mail in return stating " we'll get a background check in, we've had many applicants and won't know what is available 'til June".
I then called the program director who said "Julie" wasn't in, he didn't know what was happening with the job, he'd check with her and she'd get back to Melanie, and that he would "re-send" the background check. (my daughter)
"Julie left Melanie a voicemail yesterday saying "I don't know why you contacted "Mike" (the program director) but your background check didn't come back 'til yesterday; now we'll have H.R. do your reference checks; the summer program won't be starting until June, so we hope to find a spot for you".
So now 6 weeks after being clearly told she was hired, leaving a job, and turning down a job, my daughter is being jerked around by someone who apparently overhired or didn't have the authority to hire her, we're not sure why.
I want to go with Melanie to speak to "Mike" and "Julie" in person, and clear up the confusion. I'm sure they don't give employee handbooks to all applicants, only to new hires, and Melanie is very clear on what was said to her about being hired.
Melanie does not want me to "interfere" again, however I feel a sixteen year old, when facing two adults in authority, does not possess the assertiveness to get a clear answer and hold them accountable for basically messing up her summer. (most lifeguard positions are filled by now) Her former emploer would be glad to have her back, but a summer of washing dishes wasn't what she was looking forward to.
So, Moms, do I helicopter, or leave it to Melanie to sort it out and just pray in the background?

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I took the advice of the majority and counseled my daughter to arrange a meeting in person with "Julie", the employee who had hired her. (I waited in the lobby; my presence was known). Melody came out from the meeting very relieved, saying "Julie" was sooo glad to see her and was telling "everyone she can't wait for me to start", and as soon as "her references were checked"! she would put her on the schedule. I advised my daughter that she was being shmoozed by "Julie", if she had been eager for her to start her references would have been checked long ago, but Melanie is trusting and thankfully, not yet a cynic. She started work last week, 3 days a week, and has been called to fill in for call-offs twice, and was told she'd be getting more hours, so all's well that ends well. Thanks all, for the advice; sometimes the right thing to do is not obvious, and "there is wisdom in many counsels". Even though this persons hiring practice was questionable and resulted in my daughter being unemployed for almost 8 weeks, I'm glad I wasn't the grizzly Mama, which would have mortified Melody and satisfied only myself.

Featured Answers


answers from Lakeland on

I can understand wanting to intervene but this is something she should handle on her own (no matter what the outcome). She needs to learn how to handle adult situations on her own because you won.t always be there.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You said she could get a job right? That is an adult thing to do right? As a former employer of teens I can tell you nothing is worse than parents trying to fix their child's situations after making adult decisions. She will do what she can and if SHE is satisfied with the results then you butt out - if she asks for help proceed from there, but do so by staying in the background as much as possible. No employer is willing to deal with a teen employee and "Their Mommy." Sorry, but you said she was adult enough to hold a job, so let her be.

7 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

"She was called in for an interview, and called back a week later to pick up employment papers to be filled out and returned including W-4, employee manual, lifeguard and swim instructors handbook, school work permit, physical, etc." Nothing in there said she had the job and yes some employers will do all this and still not hire someone.

Until you get this is your wage, this is your start date, this is where you will be working, you are not hired.

I have always advised my daughter don't quit a job until you have an offer. What your daughter got was not an offer. There is very little you can do but ruin her chances of actually getting hired. No one wants an employee where they have to deal with mom all the time.

I would let her work it out on her own but next time something like this comes up don't let her quit or pass on jobs when an offer has not been tendered.

I just wanted to add because I didn't want you to get the idea I thought I was perfect, my daughter got screwed when she was 14 and working for Coldstone. They never told her she was entitled to her credit card tips and allowed the "managers" to pocket them. She lost hundreds over the two years she worked there. She wanted to work it out herself and I let her. She knew the lesson cost her a few hundred dollars but was priceless considering she just graduated from college fully able to negotiate her job herself, ya know?

One thing I can tell you from my experience with the YMCA is they are not professional interviewers. I have good friends that work there and although my friends are very capable of interviewing properly they don't because they are too busy running the show. Crazy I know but that is the life of a non for profit. They just don't have the funds for extras. There are seriously three elements needed for an offer, start date, wage, and what.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hi! A few thoughts from a Y mom with a Y swim coach/instructor/lifeguard son. My very first thought is an age issue. She may be 16 now but they weren't going to act as long as she was 15, the Y rule is 16.
Red Cross is lovely to start but they are still going to make her take the Y certification class. Hiring for the summer is a cattle call, take all applications and see who is still around by the end of June. All those checks do take time, lots of time. Did they do a CORI and SORI yet? If your Y is part of a Y group then they don't do anything themselves, they pass it on to a central office.
Intervening on her behalf will only make her stand out in a bad way. There are lots more kids than positions. If they did screw up calling them on it isn't going to help.
A final move may be for her to send an email asking plainly when she is going to start and leave it at that.
Good luck---

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I worked at a recreation center for a few years. We often hired 16 year old kids. Resist the temptation to interfere any further, let Melanie sort it out. You don't want her employer to fear that you will be stepping in all over the place at her job. When parents step in for their kids, it makes us wonder who really wants this job and how much we will be seeing Mom or Dad throughout the summer. If this were your husband and he was being railroaded a bit, would you call his potential employer and interfere with his hiring process?? There is also nothing that says she has to wait around for this job...she can still apply and interview elsewhere. She can also call the water park back and see if they could still use her. Part of working and being employed is learning communication skills and assertiveness. I know it's hard to watch, but let your daughter handle this...she'll be better off in the end.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I know this is very frustrating, but I wouldn't intervene any further on your daughter's behalf.

Frankly, at this point, even though she was so very excited about the position, I don't think she should put her life on hold for it or pass up other opportunities.

If I were her, I would contact the water park and her former employer and tell them that it looks as though the other position might fall through since it's been 6 weeks and they still don't have a definite start date for her. I know a summer of washing dishes doesn't seem very glamorous, but it's steady work and a steady paycheck and will show some continuity on her resume.

In the meantime, perhaps the Y will have things situated to have her on the roster for next year.

Part of my position is running background checks on prospective employees. They are back within days unless there is more information needed or another form to fill out if someone has lived in another state. From what you describe, it sounds like they hadn't even gotten around to running the background check until much later.

It's unfortunate that it wasn't made clear that the program wouldn't be starting until June. It still doesn't sound definite that they will have a "spot" for her.

If they aren't organized about how they do things, you, as a mother, aren't going to be able to change that.

Like I said, I think your daughter should just learn the lesson that you don't give notice where you are until you have a definite start date because sometimes things do fall through. I would quit spending so much energy on a possible position and go with the sure things.

Just my opinion.

Best of luck to her.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I don't blame you for being mad (I would be too). That being said, what a valuable life lesson this has been. Your daughter sounds very mature too. I would probably let her handle it.

At the very least she will never forget how all this played out, and it will help her to be careful in the future.

I'm very impressed with the sound of her - you've got a great kid there Mom!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

No, do NOT intervene. This is your daughter's responsibility. If you think she's too young to talk to the management at her new job, then she's too young to work there. Companies do not want to hire kids and their mommies; they want to hire responsible employees. They seem to already have more employees available than jobs, so you'd really just be putting your daughter farther down the list. Your daughter may have had a conditional job offer (conditional upon passing a background check and their other training requirements), but she didn't have a start date. If she quit her current job without a firm start date, that's unfortunate but not necessarily their fault. At the end of the day, though, as lousy as it may be, they are not obligated to give your daughter this job or could give her the job but schedule her for almost no hours.

Your intervention would be a huge red flag to her perspective employer. It will NOT help the situation or get her the job, and it will be embarassing for your daughter. Let her deal with it. And, you might encourage her to put her application in at other pools wand water parks, as they could have staffing changes mid-season where your daughter wouldn't totally miss out on the summer outdoors. This job doesn't sound particularly promising for her.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Do not intervene in person with them, but give your daughter the encouragement and coaching to do it herself. I did have a managerial job years ago with teens reporting to me. It aggravated me to no end when Moms would call to beg a scheduling favor for their children. My response was, "your child needs to come and talk to me herself." If your DD is mature enough to hold a job (and certainly is sounds like she is), she is mature enough to handle the unfortunate circumstances that come with it herself. It must be incredibly hard to see such a disappointing turn of events for her summer, but in real life, people get screwed in the job hiring process. There are miscommunications. Things fall through the cracks. And sometimes what we think is a sure thing, doesn't work out. Tough life lesson, but your DD will be a stronger person for having had the experience. I hope she gets the job she wants after all.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

oh, SO hard. this makes all my mama tiger claws go all tingly!
but don't.
of course she thought she had the job, they sure made it sound as if she did. but your intervention can only make matters worse. coach her through trying to get to the bottom of it, making sure she is calm and professional the whole time. worst case scenario, it's a harsh lesson about the realities of finding a job. until you've got a clear start date, the paperwork is signed and you've met the boss, it's not a sure gig.
your daughter sounds wonderful. if these folks don't get her, the ones who do will be very lucky.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

In this case she may have not understood the whole situation or the words used were not quite right be the adults. In any case she should continue to try to eork this out but also pursue other positions. She might even call back the water park and even her old job and see if she can get her foot back in the door. Doing many interviews and dealing with adults from everything from on their game to disorganized and unprofessional will help her get early skills that all should have.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

It sounds like this YMCA and there management is not on the same page and they lack communication, consistency, and this probably an issue other applicants have been faced with. I dealt with a situation similar to this in some aspects and in the end realized working for a place and people who can not keep their word and provide conflicting information most likely will end up with more disappointments and problems. of course, its going to be disappointing if she doesnt get the job, but its going to be even more disappointing if it doesnt work out and she gets screwed in the end. I think either way it works out for her.. its going to be a valuable lesson and a good tool for her to have for the future! Good luck.. let us know what happens!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

I can see both sides. You (an adult who sounds well educated) will have better retorts to Mike and Julie's reasons than a polite 16 year old girl.

Could you compromise and take her there and sit in the waiting area for moral support?

Could you convince her to contact the other water park and let them know due to YMCA's red tape she may not be able to wait for them and would love to be reconsidered for a position? You never know, they could have hired irresponsible people and would like to replace them with someone like your daughter.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I would want to intervene in this case. You can use it as a lesson in how to assertively, and politely, get an answer from people who are giving you the "run-around". Before doing so, however, I would discuss it again with your daughter, explain your reasoning and your approach, and get her approval for doing so. If she still won't allow you to contact these people, Plan B could be to coach her on what to say to them to get an answer.

She needs to find out if there is a job or not, so she can see if she can still get one of the other ones for the summer.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would drive her to the YMCA. Have her ask for the those in charge to ask about the job. Help her script it out before you go, maybe role play to help w/ her comfort level. I would walk in with her but let her do the talking - stand off to the side. If you hear she is getting the run around, then step in and ask for 'clarification'.

I see no problem with you helping her out with this. This is a big step being her first job. The back and forth is irresponsible on the adults part. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Gotta let her learn. Might as well be with a lifeguard job, otherwise you'll be calling up the Secret Service when she gets appointed to the Supreme Court harassing them b/c Melanie never learned how to stand up for herself (even when the lesson entails getting kicked in the pants).



answers from New York on

Do not intervene, but offer to help her role play the discussions, and coach her. And do encourage her to call the waterpark and other local swim clubs. Things change, and a previously filled position can open, or she can sub until something full time comes along.

Good luck, but it sounds like she wants to stand on her own two feet, and you should encourage her independence. Good for her thinking she can do it herself, and better she tries and fails than you give her the message that she can't!



answers from Phoenix on

No, don't intervene. She is old enough to drive, work, and 2 years from being an an adult, and she should be able to handle things on her own. Of course, a little coaching & encouragement from mom won't hurt :-).

I would use it as a life lesson. Rule #1 being, never quit a job/give notice until you are 100% sure that you are 100% hired. That being said, it sounds like the YMCA office she is dealing with has poor communication, management & organizational skills. Honestly, do you really think she should work there, seeing how unprofessional they seem? Would you want to work at a place like that? I know I wouldn't. I look at is a sign that she's not meant to work there, and there is something better out there for her.

Has she called the water park & told them she's available? Your DD sounds very responsible & mature, I'm sure she'll easily find another job.



answers from Indianapolis on

Since she is only 16 you should intervene. I would meet with them to see what is going on. I would do it in a nice way so that if she is hired they won't make things hard for her. I would also let them know that she had a job already that she resigned from to work there and a job that she turned down. She may be mad at first but she will get over it.

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