The importance of working teens


With summer only a few weeks away, many high school students are starting to apply for summer jobs. Unfortunately, the number of applicants isn’t as high as one might think.

In 2002, The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted research that shows a rise and decline in 16-19 year old workforce involvement from 1948-2000. According to the graph, the percentage of teen labor peaks around the 1975-1980 and then steadily declines into the 2000s. It’s very certain that the percentage has continued to decrease into the 2010’s. Why is this?

In addition to general economic factors and a lower availability of jobs, a big reason for the continued decrease in teen labor is modern parenting. According to a Time article by Suzanna de Baca, “Many parents have mixed feelings about their children working. Some parents…feel strongly that their child should get a job. Others would like their kids to work but feel that sports and volunteering and other activities that might help get them into college are more important.”

Extracurricular activities are important, but working even the simplest jobs in your teens has numerous benefits, many of which are useful for working and holding jobs in the future. Some of those benefits are listed below:


More responsibility:
Although teens begin learning about responsibility skills in school, having a job enables them to practice those skills in a new environment. All employees, regardless of the job, are expected to be on time and do work efficiently and effectively. Because of this, responsibility also becomes much more individualized, as everyone usually has a different task required of them. Having more experience with individual responsibility is important because it helps teens develop stronger self discipline and job skills for the future.


Improved networking/social skills:
Having a job involves communicating with people from all walks of life: adults, children, other teens, etc. This makes jobs great places to meet new people and make friends outside of school. Many jobs also involve working with customers and accommodating their needs. Being social with everyday strangers and other employees builds confidence and shapes people/teamwork skills.


 The value of a dollar:
Because most modern families feel iffy about their teens having jobs, money is usually just given them without another thought. Money eventually becomes taken for granted. When teens are forced to work for their own spending money, they start to appreciate and understand its value. In addition, teens also start to understand how to manage their own finances. Again, personal finance skills are important to practice. One day, teens won’t have their parents around to do their finances for them.


Resume building:
Just like sports, clubs and extracurriculars outside of school, having experience with jobs looks good on resumes and college applications. It lets others know that those who’ve worked before are familiar with skills and traits associated with having a job early on, like responsibility, discipline and self motivation.

Brooke Sturdivant, sophomore, agrees that working in your teens can be a very valuable experience. The useful benefits inspire her to begin working in the near future.

“What inspires me to get a job is the experiences you gain while working, because you learn so many different aspects of life. You not only learn how to do whatever it is that job requires you to do, you often learn social skills as well,” said Sturdivant in an e-mail interview.

Since it’s harder for teens to work during the school year, a better alternative would be to work during the summer. Even small jobs, like babysitting, tutoring and doing yard work, prove to practice and strengthen important character traits and skills. For this reason, Sturdivant encourages more teens to participate in summer jobs.

“I think a summer job is something that every teen should experience at least once. Not only does it get you out of your house, it shows you the value of a dollar and what it means to earn your money. Also, if you’re not getting the promotions and praise in school that you would like to have, a job is somewhere that you could definitely earn that, just by showing up more, so it gives teens an extra opportunity to succeed,” said Sturdivant.


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