When kids think “summer,” a few images immediately come to mind: white sand beaches, friends and family, and, most importantly, a complete and utter lack of responsibility. No school and seemingly limitless free time allows the perfect opportunity to slack off—or to buckle down. A summer job is an opportune way for any teenager to utilize their abundance of time in a productive manner. While this seems like a lame waste of a good vacation on the surface, a summer job is well worth the effort.
For obvious reasons, everyone needs money. A summer job—even if only part time—provides kids with a first opportunity to earn money for themselves. Even picking up only a few shifts a week can provide funds for first cars, college, or even just an extra income for your household. Giving up a bit of your summer to earn money isn’t the worst thing in the world—cause who doesn’t need money?
- Workforce Experience
The majority of Americans end up in the workforce after high school/college, so why not acquire a bit of early experience? Experience in nearly any field is invaluable and could be an important factor in getting you hired down the line in said field. Anyone can read about how to do something in a book, but actually doing it—actually living it—that is beyond valuable. Any form of work experience you acquire can benefit you down the line and should not be taken for granted.
- A look at the real world
A job can be an excellent way for teens to ease into the adult world. A bit of elbow grease, sweat, and hard work can go a long way in teaching a kid to grow up and see the world through an entirely new perspective. In addition, working teaches teens time/money management, important monetary functions (taxes, 401K, etc.), and provides an introduction to society/the private sector. Powerful life lessons can be learned by means of a first job. Nothing in this world is truly free; not everyone goes through the same struggles; you get what you earn. Simple concepts to on paper, but difficult to grasp without seeing them firsthand. A job can be a powerful teaching tool when sculpting a young mind.
- Prevents entitlement
Whether your family is rich, poor, or anything in between, you/your kid should get a job. Growing up, children should be provided food, water, and shelter to the best of their caregiver’s ability without thought of compensation. This is the duty of a caregiver, and the child should be given these basic human rights at the start of their lives. An issue only occurs if a sense of entitlement develops into adulthood—teens cannot expect to have everything handed to them for the rest of their lives. While still entitled to these basic needs, teens; while developing into adulthood; should find a means of acquiring these necessities for themselves. By getting a job, making their own money, and partly providing for themselves, these teens learn to curb their sense of entitlement, and begin to grow into whole people.
- A sense of self
Here’s a trope I’m sure you’re familiar with: the confused, frustrated teen aimlessly searching for a sense of self to define him/herself by. While a summer job might not completely satiate a lost soul, it can certainly help point it in the right direction. Having a place where you’re expected—where you’re needed—can truly do wonders for putting a restless mind at ease. Possessing a title—be it cashier, waiter, or manager—can give a wayward teen a sense of worth in world they’re otherwise a burden upon.
- Why not?
If you’re a teenager and are vehemently against employment, why? What reason could you possibly have for not getting a job, at least for the summer? Barring an actual disability, there is absolutely no reason to not get a job of some kind—at least for the summer. Athletes/scholars complaining about a lack of time in the summer: I promise, you’re physically incapable of training/studying 24/7, so why not work a little? If nothing else, coach/teach younger kids in your downtime. Everyone has an excuse, but hardly any of them hold up. If you want to pick your own hours, mow lawns. If you’re always hungry and don’t have enough money to eat, work in restaurants. If you’re a nerd who likes free/cheap nerd things, work at the movies or a comic book store. There are no doubt as many jobs as you can possibly imagine, and the only thing holding you back from trying one of them is the excuse you choose to live by.
Every teenager should make a concerted effort to apply for a summer job—the enumerable benefits of such a venture far outweigh the drawbacks of losing a bit of vacation time. Earning money, gaining experience, and tasting a slice of adult life; why not? Who knows, maybe your summer job could become your passion, and that passion could become your career. It’s at least worth a try.