Why Your Teen Needs a Summer Job
Looking back on my teen summers, my memories are . . . pretty hazy. All right, I don’t remember much except when we left home for a vacation. Other than that, they all blend. I believe I spent my time going to friends’ houses, reading, and watching TV. (This was pre-internet.)
What didn’t I do? Work. (I keep hearing the Schuyler sisters’ song from Hamilton whenever I read that sentence!) For a variety of reasons, many related to transportation in the ‘burbs, I didn’t work in the summers during high school. Looking back, though I wished I had.
As a teacher, I was constantly amazed by how many of my students worked during the summer and school year. This was even true when I worked in fairly wealthy communities. And almost without fail, my students who worked had their stuff together.
Why? Kids learn so many amazing life skills from work. While not academic in nature, these new skills help students become not only better students, but better people. And isn’t that what all parents want for their kids?
Skills learned at work easily transfer to school!Click To Tweet
So even if you don’t want your teen to work during the school year (I totally get that!), the summer is a fantastic time to start working!
Why Your Teen Needs to Get a Summer Job
Working teens earn so many benefits, other than just money! According to the US Department of Labor teens who work have a higher income in their 20s than their counterparts who didn’t work. And students of color who work are less likely to drop out of high school. In fact, working teens are more likely to graduate high school!
Here are some other major impacts of working a summer job:
Nothing changes your chronically late teen like someone else’s expectations. Let’s face it – it’s ok to be late for Mom or Dad. But the boss? Not ok. Not to mention, your teen will need to keep track of his hours and plan around work. (I see a planner in your child’s future.)
And if your teen still can’t get it together, he will face the consequences. Like getting fired. Real world consequences often lead to changes in behavior.
Those sweet new time management skills can help in school. In fact, one study showed that students who worked 10-15 hours a week DURING the school year actually had better grades than students who didn’t work.
Someone is now relying on your child – to show up, handle money, possibly make food or drink that other people will ingest, handle merchandise, and interact with customers. In other words, real stuff. It’s time for your teen to step up and carry through on her tasks.
You can use pretend money all you want, but nothing teaches financial literacy like real money. Do you remember when you got your first paycheck and the shock of taxes? “Wait – why was all this money taken out??”
I would recommend sitting down with your child BEFORE the first check arrives to discuss your expectations. How much will she save? Is he saving up for a particular purpose? Does she have to contribute to household expenses? How much can he spend and on what? And if she hasn’t already, your teen will need to open a bank account.
No, it’s not a prestigious (unpaid) internship, but working at the ice cream shop/ clothing store/ mowing lawns is real work experience. Many employers would rather hire someone with actual work experience than someone with a degree, but no work history.
Also, your child’s manager is her first reference. A good impression now will help will help your teen get other jobs down the line. It’s really never too early to network.
And if your teen is worried about what to write that college essay about, the admissions officers would much rather hear about his summer job than yet another mission trip to Latin America. Seriously.
Value of Education
There is nothing wrong with working a crappy summer job. In fact, I think all kids should. If anything will get a teen’s butt back to the books, it’s the thought of working that horrible job for the rest of his life. Suddenly, getting that diploma seems much more worthwhile.
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