Should Your Teen Get a Summer Job?

Have you been toying with the idea of your teen taking on a summer job this year? On the one hand, you want them to help pitch in with various expenses, but on the other hand, are there risks you should know of? And do the pros outweigh the cons?

Should Your Teen Get a Summer Job?
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Here are the benefits, risks, and things you should know before parents and teens make this decision.

Summer Job Pro: Your teen gains professional experience.

Want your teen to learn how to write a resume? Or how to present themselves during a job interview? Nothing beats real-life experience like real-life experience. Your teen’s summer job will give them a chance to use skills they will need when they are job hunting after college.

But gaining professional experience is not only limited to how to get a summer job. Today’s recruiters are looking for those who can communicate well, are able to collaborate, and who are adaptable. Teens with summer jobs will learn how to get along with coworkers, an ornery boss, and demanding clients. These are soft skills that attending school cannot teach.

Con: Less time for traditional summer activities.

Last year, the Atlantic reported that high school students are skipping summer jobs in favor of summer classes. Why? High school requirements have become more demanding than in years past. Combined with an increased pressure to go college, students are now using their summer days to study. If your teen gets a summer job, this will curtail their time spent studying, or engaging in other school-related activities.

Of course, a summer job or an internship can be an educational experience on its own. So you will want to weigh up the educational ramifications of where your teen can best use their time.

Pro: Real-life money lessons.

Does your teen fly through their weekly allowance? Is it hard to get them to think through purchases? Want a fast way to foster an appreciation of the value of money in your teens? Let them take a job.

In a Charles Schwab survey, the poll showed that 4 out of 10 teens do not understand how to budget. Learning how to be financially responsible is a hallmark of adulthood. The surest way to teach this lesson in a way that stays with your teen? Allow them to earn and then spend on their own to get a taste of financial consequences on a small scale.

Not only will they learn about how to save for larger expenses, but they might end up appreciating you—the parents—more when you give them some extra cash.

Pro: Gain experience related to interests.

If your teen is a serious thinker, they might be already pondering job choices and career options. A job can help them explore their interests and give them a taste of what a career in that profession might be like. Occasionally, romantic notions can put a rosy glow on a career choice. And real-life experience can provide a close look at what professionals in a certain industry face daily. This can help your teen cull out the duds and figure out what they are not interested in.

If your teen becomes sold on that career, then that summer job will pay off in other ways, too. Recruiters and companies look for individuals who have a long-standing passion in that field. The right summer jobs can provide experience for your teen’s resume that will impress future recruiters and companies.

Con: High-paying summer jobs could hurt financial aid chances.

Are you counting on government aid to help pay for college? If so, just make sure your teen does not earn above the formula for getting an EFC grant. If your teen earns too much, it could nullify their request for financial aid. Petty cash that is not calculated amounts to about $6500 a year.

Pro: Develop time management skills.

Learning how to manage their own time is a trait that many teens could use a full-fledged course in. Having a job will require them to show up at a certain time each day. They will learn to be accountable for the hours they spend at their place of employment.

Teens with summer jobs will need to learn how to juggle multiple responsibilities. Summer homework assignments will not magically disappear just because your teen is now employed. Nor will household chores.

But all of this is a good thing for teens to learn before they head off to college, where they won’t have you as their personal to-do list reminder.

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Sabina Edwards

At my workplace I often tell my students that THIS JOB is the reason you will want to go to school and get a decent job is heavy duty, pays little and we can not seem to get anyone to stay (two new women started on monday and quit after two days) One thing to consider though with a summer job is that they will only have maybe TWO days off a week. Where I am we don’t work weekends BUT our plant is open from 4am til about 10pm at night and the students are hired to clean,… Read more »