The Key Benefits of Getting a Summer Job or Internship
Summertime: the sun is out, the temperature is high and the days are longer. As we end the academic year, high school students around the nation are tempted by the idea of sleeping until noon and lounging around. While this is all well and good, it's important that the summer isn't just wasted away. Obviously, some teenagers—and parents—will be busy with club athletics, travel, or camp; however, these occupations only last a few weeks. As an alternative to hanging around the house, I recommend, (as did my mother to my brothers and me) to get a job or land an internship.
Now, it's one thing to say this, and another to put it into action. As a parent, you can be as hands-on as you see appropriate throughout the summer job search process. With that said, a teenage boy will gain confidence by owning the process and by putting himself out there, (mostly) on his own.
My mother’s involvement in finding a summer gig was very slight. I was fortunate enough to grow up spending my summers on Martha’s Vineyard, which allowed me to start working when I turned 14 years old. My mother helped me compile a list of prospective employers and then drove me to each spot where I inquired about a possible summer position. My first job was working at ‘The Menemsha Market,’ a small general store in a quaint fishing village where I ran the cash register for two years. After that, I got a job next door at ‘The Menemsha Galley,’ a small take-out snack shack where my older brother had worked for five years prior to my joining. I went on to work here during every summer leading into college, made some money, met great people and learned a ton.
Here are some of the life lessons that I learned throughout my working days as a teenager:
1. Value of a Dollar
Mom and Dad should welcome this! This could be the end of, “Hey, can I have twenty bucks to go to the movies with my friends?” It is so important that our children learn the value of the dollar and the only way to teach that is by allowing them to earn money that is strictly theirs. This also teaches teenagers the meaning of discretionary spending; spending money that does not necessarily need to be spent. If an unpaid internship is on the horizon, even better, the lessons learned will translate into an invaluable experience to land a paid position in the future.
2. Must Start Somewhere
We are in an age of instant gratification during which many of our teenagers expect to be the best right away, whether that means making a varsity team after trying out for the first time, or whether it means earning a top grade without much effort. There is no better time than now for a young man to learn how to work his way up the ladder in a somewhat stakes free environment.
3. Value of Working with Others
The best way for teenagers to grow is for them to be nudged outside of their comfort zones. We see boys expand and learn valuable life lessons every day at Avon Old Farms, the CT private school: boys sign up for new classes; join new clubs; and tryout for different sports. It's amazing how much teenage boys grow and develop when spending some time outside of their comfort zones.
Summer, for the most part, can be a mass of time where boys don't have much structure. The small time commitment of a summer job encourages young men to exercise their time management skills. This skill set is critical for young men throughout life as they move on to college and beyond.
At the very least, a summer job will enable teenage boys to experience ‘the real world,’ in a low-stakes environment where they will encounter several social dynamics that they have yet to experience. These are situations that children cannot replicate in a formal educational setting; therefore, the skills that young people learn while working during the summer are crucial to their development and to their lives beyond high school.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Avon Old Farms Class of 2011