Would you rather … work hard for the money, or win the lottery? If you are a lottery winner, congrats! That’s awesome! No need to read any further. But for everyone else, here’s the deal: a job is kinda the best. It gives you structure, personal connections, a paycheck, a sense of purpose, and all kinds of other intangibles that make life pretty great. And for preteens and teens, it can give them a head start on career and education planning that will lead to higher salaries and increased job satisfaction.
And while summer employment is declining for teenagers, we think that it’s vital. Why?
Summer jobs teach important skills like time management and financial accountability.
Students who work become better and more confident communicators.
Colleges are actually eager to see more “un-glamorous” jobs on student applications.
Holding a job, especially a menial one, gives students a deeper understanding of themselves, society, and the world.
When teens earn their own money, they feel empowered to take control over the next phases of their education and career planning.
Deep stuff, we know, but it’s true. Early career exploration is one of the single biggest predictors of future success. In fact, wide exposure to a variety of industries at a young age will make it easier to focus on career choices later. And contrary to popular belief, college admissions officers place a premium on the resiliency that comes from the “real world” experience and responsibility of holding a job, no matter what the work.
So how can you help an adolescent in your life find a summer job they’ll tolerate, if not actually enjoy? Start with a game about their preferences! With the “would you rather?” construct, you can pull some surprising insights out of people, even tight-lipped teens. Here are a few to get you started:
Would you rather … spend a summer day inside or outside?
Would you rather … be with people or be alone?
Would you rather … get a workout or take it easy?
Would you rather … make a lot of money doing something you hate, or make a little money doing something you love?
Would you rather … have free time during the day or at night?
Would you rather … be on a reality TV show or write the next great novel?
Pay close attention to their answers and help them draw conclusions about their interests.
If you sense they’re getting really excited about being outside for the summer, working with their hands, and being around people, you may guide them towards jobs in construction or at a local summer camp.
If they seem interested in less physically taxing work, maybe in the comfort of air conditioning and a desk, but still like interacting with people, you might mention the cashier position at the local art supply store or the tried-and-true grocery bagger.
And you don’t have to think of the jobs on your own. We offer a comprehensive database of local jobs and internships for students across the country; they can access it by logging into their student accounts on MajorClarity.
By pairing their interests with the opportunities out there, America’s teens might just have the best summer of their whole lives—and learn some pretty critical life skills while they’re at it.