By: Ida K. 15, Büyükada, Istanbul, Turkey. //
My mom is Austrian, my dad is Turkish and I was born in the US. Being a child of multiple cultural backgrounds, I travel around a lot between my two families and my home. I have noticed that when it comes to earning money, the standards vary from country to country. Just to let you know, this is a personal account of my observations and doesn't apply to everyone. I’m going to be focusing on the differences between Turkey and the US because I have noticed a bigger contrast.
Though certain things are universal, there are distinguished differences among countries. From what I have seen, there is definitely a culture of consumerism in teenagers both in Austria and Turkey, very much similar to the US. Teens go shopping together for enjoyment and like to hang out at coffee shops. Of course, having enough money to do this is a privilege by itself. I have lived in both wealthy and poorer communities. I don’t necessarily mean financially unstable families, but families who can't afford a new phone every time one is released. Buying new phones, of course, is not a necessity, but a privilege that many Americans I know do possess. Yet, in those same "poor" communities, there seems to be a more prominent job culture. Even though teens in the US get jobs around the ages of 15, I have realized that there seems to be something that sets Turkey apart from the US. In Turkey, this process seems to start much earlier on. Many of my friends right from a young age, helped out at their family businesses. Though helping out the family business certainly exists in the US, I feel it is taken much more seriously in Turkey. Many of my friends "work" from 6 am to 10 pm in the summer! I don’t think my American school friends could ever imagine doing this.
One of the important skills teens learn by helping out is how to attract customers. If you ever visit a Turkish Pazar you will notice people yelling at you from all directions to buy their goods. Many of my friends have mastered this skill by the age of 7 or 8! Another important skill that teens pick up is negotiating. For example, sometimes I accompany one of my close friends, as she watches her parents’ stand for multiple hours a day. When tourists come to her stand seeking to buy goods, I can see the negotiating process in action. It is truly such an invigorating and intense process that such a young girl has mastered fully. These are the steps I have picked up on:
First, one must name a price that is too high. When the buyer requests a lower price, the seller must name a price in between. The price in between is the target price that they actually were hoping to sell the product for in the beginning. As an experienced vendor, one must know how much money to request for a certain product just by looking at a customer. An experienced seller knows who will be more likely to pay, and who won’t. I believe that the negotiation is a crucial skill for teens to learn, which can help them with their business life, and ultimately help them pursue their dreams. Now having heard all of this you might think, “Wow! That is so nice that these teens get to gain this experience.” But, I have noticed that helping out isn't just a ‘part-time’ job that the teens can do if they’re interested, but rather it is expected from them. And I don’t think it is because the family needs the financial support, but because it is rather good for the teens to learn these skills. From my observations, I have come to understand that the job culture is much more prominent in communities I have visited in Turkey and I believe that the teens there gain the "art of negotiation" that will help them later in life.