Why a Teen Should Get a Summer Job

It’s March and snow may be hanging around, but savvy parents realize the summer hiring season is kicking in and teenagers will be looking for jobs everywhere.

Will teens you know be working this summer? Not as likely as it used to be. In fact last year, only about half of those 16 to 19 years old were employed during the summer.

Working Is Out of Vogue?

Referring to it as the “fading of the teen summer job,” researchers at George Mason University indicate the teen labor force has fallen from 52.7% in 1994 to 34% in 2014. This sharp drop may be caused by a variety of reasons – pressure to take summer classes, more sports camps, a push for volunteering, more traveling vacations, or fewer jobs for younger workers. The below infographic by the Pew Research Center shows how teenagers’ allocation of time has changed in the last 15 years.*

It certainly appears working isn’t a high priority. So what? Is relaxing during the summer so bad?

Actually millions of teens who do get summer jobs reap an education of a different sort – lifetime skills of high value. It puts them on a course to be a step ahead of their peers. What jobs did you have during summers? Would you do them again? I remember starting at $1/hour, which is not something I want to do again. But the jobs themselves were of great value.

The Hidden Value of First Jobs

Here are 10 benefits your teen can gain from summer jobs:

  1. Build confidence! Working for pay fosters confidence and self reliance, prepares you for a competitive world, and can make the transition to adulthood smoother.
  2. Communicate! Jobs usually foster interaction with adults and bosses, which means learning to develop conversation skills, summarize your thoughts, make eye contact, and understand the etiquette/protocol of meetings.
  3. Network and connect. Not only will you make business contacts, but you can also gain skills to job search, interview, write applications, and build a resume – all handy for full-time job searches later.
  4. Manage money. When you earn a paycheck, you also have decisions about how much to spend or save and what to buy.  Employed teens get a head start learning about bank accounts, debit cards, credit history, taxes and the big difference between net and gross pay.
  5. Be more employable. Being an employee has a learning curve. So you eventually have to learn the ropes in getting a job done – and follow directions, learn a routine, give customer service, handle diverse personalities, and work on a team. And, you likely learn to operate something – software programs, cash registers, restaurant equipment, cleaning tools and more.
  6. Prioritize your time. Managing your time is a lifelong skill. When you have a work schedule to follow, you learn to prioritize, use free time wisely, and create a suitable work-life balance.
  7. Gain work experience. Having a summer job can help you decide on a career path, and get a head start on some skills you’ll need. You might also learn what you don’t want to do for a career – still valuable.
  8. Develop a good work ethic. Practice makes perfect, and learning to do your job is no different. Learn to complete tasks, stay until the job is done, learn specific on-the-job skills, and learn to work with others. You may bungle some things when you begin, but you’ll improve.
  9. Be accountable, meet expectations.  As a young employee, it’s time to be a rule follower and not a rule breaker. So show up on time, wear what you’re supposed to wear, do a day’s work for a day’s pay – and be respectful of your employer (who must follow rules too).
  10. Contribute. When you earn a paycheck, you feel like you’ve contributed. You may also help your family’s budget and buy some of your future wants & needs. Go!

*Pew Research Center data shows the changes in a teenager’s use of time:


A day-in-the-life of a teen


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