Thoughts on Summer Jobs

The following was posted in a recent issue of The Week magazine:

As summer jobs go, I had it pretty easy.  My first gig the summer after my junior year in high school was at a law office, running errands and making copies.  What it lacked in decent wages, it made up for in aggressive air-conditioning.  The next summer, I babysat two kids for 40 hours a week; another year, I answered phones all day in a hospital’s billing department.  Those summer jobs were poorly paid but formative, and all of my friends, no matter what their parents did for a living, worked too.  They lifeguarded and built houses, umped Little League games and bussed tables.  It meant a few dollars in our pockets and gas in our tanks and most importantly, a little taste of adulthood.

What I learned during those summers was valuable:  Show up on time.  Your boss isn’t your mom.  Some jobs are terribly boring, and best to be avoided later.  These are the foundational lessons of working life, and they are increasingly unavailable to young Americans.  Fewer than a third of teens worked between June and August last year, a near-historical low.  The school year is longer; year-round sports are more demanding; and short, unpaid internships are seen as requirements for college applications.  Competition for entry-level jobs is also tougher because of the sluggish economy.  Well-off kids have less time for a job, in other words, and less well-off kids have a harder time landing one.  They’re marching toward their working life without much actual work experience.  Which is too bad, because those summers taught me plenty about what I didn’t want to do after graduation 0 which is its own kind of paycheck.   – Carolyn O’Hara.

Summer is well underway, but the information covered is still valuable.  Any job you work provides the opportunity for a learning experience, skills development, and making connections that may prove beneficial later.  Every job matters, no matter how young or old you are!

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