Parents in today’s world recognize that summer jobs aren’t the universal and seasonal rites of passage they once were. There are many options for experience, learning, and adventure available to teens during the summer. Many students find the idea of a summer job a bit old fashioned. But, from the perspective of educators, three months of employment, including unpaid internships, still holds value for today’s youth.
So, whether your teen is part of the summer workforce or is embarked on a different kind of summer journey, it’s a good time to review the benefits of summer jobs. Here are four to consider:
1. A workplace is a different sort of classroom.
To be successful, teens must master soft skills, the kind of workplace skills that are increasingly in demand by businesses but not taught at school. Competent employees must learn to communicate respectfully with bosses, customers, and colleagues. Teens can also benefit from spending time in a context where their education isn’t the institution’s ultimate goal. This can help them see the world beyond their school system, and lead to a better understanding of why an education is crucial for meaningful employment.
2. Summer jobs tend to be good at motivating teenagers.
Researchers consistently find that students who hold summer jobs improve their attendance and performance in the classroom. Some students discover that they thrive in an office atmosphere, bolstering their sense of belonging or accomplishment. Others enjoy taking on more “adult” responsibilities, realizing a sense of purpose and ownership over their work, even if it’s menial labor.
3. Working helps teens develop social confidence.
Following different norms and meeting new sets of expectations can help instill professional values in your teen, especially if he or she becomes invested in doing good work. Students spend a significant portion of their lives at school and participating in school-related activities; a real-world environment can be eye opening for them. It’s not unusual for students to mature more rapidly when they spend a lot of time around older workers. The new environment can provide teens with a chance to “start over” and be judged by their actions and attitude, not their prior mistakes, social abilities, or family status.
4. Summer jobs come with extra benefits.
- When teens make their own money, they tend to become more interested in how it’s spent. Knowing the value of a dollar can change a teen's understanding of microeconomic transactions. A $100 pair of jeans may still be a status symbol, but it also becomes two days' worth of wages. For students from middle and upper-class households, this can be particularly enlightening.
- Even teens that hold down unpaid internships often reap the benefits of seasonal employment. Internships can be fantastic places to learn real-world skills and begin the networking process. A good internship can help students secure better jobs (or college internships) later in life, and can be a great source of letters of recommendations needed for university applications or first-job references.
Whether or not working during the summer is the right option for your teen is something each family should discuss and decide for themselves. The workplace is one of the choices available to teens that can expand their environment. Educators report that, in most cases, a summer job can be an ideal way for students to learn and grow while school is out.