The Secret Powers of the Summer Job

The Secret Powers of the Summer Job

Presidents have had them, reality stars have had them, and yes, your teachers might even have them, too. They’re summer jobs, and they’re a rite of passage for teens untethered from the demands of school year. In addition to the obvious extra cash a summer job offers, these seasonal gigs can offer much-needed stimulation, new connections and friends, and give your teen a leg up in your future job hunt.

Funding their Fun

If your family is fortunate enough to be able to provide for your child’s needs and wants while they focus on school work, they’ve likely not been forced to get an afternoon gig to cover their life expenses. But when summertime rolls around, so does a major opportunity.

Learning the importance of being on time, the challenges of dealing with difficult customers, and the mystical math associated with paycheck deductions are invaluable stepping stones on the path to adulthood. One way to encourage them to apply: pick an expense category that is up to them to fund (or miss out.) Perhaps it’s summertime entertainment or eating out.

If the response you hear has anything to do with “so-and-so doesn’t make their kids work during their break!,” show them this snapshot of then-First Daughter Sasha Obama working the fast food checkstand at a seafood joint in Martha’s Vineyard. Yes, even the kids of the most powerful man in the land had to count change.

Empowering their Future

A summer job isn’t just about income, though that’s certainly nice. Choosing selectively can impact your future job search in a significant way.

Finding a grown-up job listing that doesn’t ask for experience is about as easy to find as the Lochness Monster.

Honing a few skills that can be highlighted on a future resume could be more valuable than any hourly wage today. If your child has more than one option for employment, encourage them to think about the skills they’ll develop, and how those might look on a resume. Here are two examples:

What will serving cranky customers at a fast food joint have to do with a future as an ER doctor? 

Served 200 customers per day while maintaining accurate financial records and establishing effective de-escalation tactics.

How could the little league umpire position help me in politics?

Made accurate calls based on written rules in the face of constant opposition and complaints by angry parents and fans.

See? The “soft skills” learned along the way are more applicable to the future than one may think.

Need a final dose of encouragement? A couple of years ago, a hashtag erupted on Twitter #firstsevenjobs started trending on Twitter. Celebrities and CEO’s alike chimed in with their (surely once hated) first jobs. The message: the path to your dream job may be made of small steps made well.

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For even more inspiration, check out our YouTube playlist, How Teens Can Get a Job.

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