I remember my first summer job. I was fifteen and worked at a putt-putt course and go-kart track. Many of you probably can recall your first summer job as well.
In the past, summer was a time when teenagers went out to find a job and make a few bucks until the start of the new school year. But this is changing.
A recent report by Bloomberg revealed that the percentage of teenagers looking for summer jobs has decreased over the years. In 1989, 70% of teenagers participated worked. Last year, this number hit 43%. Many possible explanations are provided for the decline—being crowded out of the workforce, extracurricular activities, and studying.
While there are reasons why teenagers might not look for a summer job, there are also reasons why teenagers should consider getting a summer job.
- The development of a strong work ethic. Most summer jobs are not dream jobs. And this is not always a bad thing. There is value in learning to work hard even when the work isn’t fun. Even dream jobs provide their share of difficult moments, times when you want to give up and move on. Summer jobs can help you learn how to keep working hard during those moments.
- A taste a money management. Money is a primary motivator for teenagers who decide to work during the summer. The summer paycheck provides teenagers an opportunity to manage money. Sure, the hourly rate may not seem like much, but a teenager can use this money in significant ways. They can develop healthy money management habits—give generously, save wisely, and live appropriately. They could make a dent in their anticipated college expenses or even retirement.
- The ability to learn how to follow well. Summer jobs give teenagers an authority to which they must learn to submit (their boss). This provides teenagers the opportunity to learn how to follow well. The reality is that most adult workers are under some type of authority at their jobs. So getting a feel for what it is like to work for someone else can be of value.
- Experiencing the real consequences of good and bad decisions. You can get rewarded for working well at a summer job. You can get fired for poor decisions at a summer job. These real consequences help teenagers understand what life and work is like beyond the parent’s home and classroom. They get to see that there are real consequences for their decisions at work.
Should every teenager get a summer job? No. But it is worth considering. There are real benefits to holding a job during the June, July, and August months. And the greatest values of a summer job are found beyond the paycheck received.