Why have a summer job?

When summer finally rolls around, many teens feel the need to go into super-chill mode. The idea of binge watching TV series, sleeping in late, wearing pajamas all day and endlessly snap-chatting friends seems really REALLY appealing. And it can be, but usually just for the first week or so… then, most teens tell us, boredom does roll in and teens are looking for other things to do with their time.

Some teens are lucky enough to travel, either on their own or with family and friends. Others go to camp. And as college entrance has become more competitive, a lot of teens use summer to take extra courses or to pursue athletics more intensely or to intern (see Bonus YSS). All of these can help teens gain an “edge” when applying to college as well as an “edge” in building their sense of self. But so too can a summer job – it builds skills, builds your resume AND builds your bank account. Why choose a summer job as the way to occupy your precious free time? Here’s what Bon Patterson, the former Admissions Director at the prestigious Stanford University says,

“Gaining work experience is meaningful. Admission offices want to see commitment, leadership and initiative and all three can be demonstrated by a low-skill job. You can show initiative by getting the job, commitment by sticking to it, and leadership by showing up early and staying late.”

What does he mean by “low-skill job?” Most summer jobs are ones that don’t require years of educational experience or special skills. Most people can learn how to wait tables, work a cashier or mow a lawn in a few hours and perfect their skills as they gain experience.  

However, almost every low-skill job requires skills that almost every college and, indeed, higher skilled job requires. Steady jobs require that people can communicate well with other people, both customers and other workers. They require the ability to work hard in times of stress (try working in a diner at peak hours) and to work hard even in the face of boredom (try steaming clothes in the basement of a retail shop for five hours straight). They require paying attention and staying focused (try being a lifeguard in the hot sun). And they also require being able to adapt when circumstances call for it (try handling credit card payments when the system goes down). All of these skills are admirable and desired.

Don’t forget though, having a summer job can be tough. Standing on your feet for eight hours in a clothing store can be tiring, mowing lawns in the sun can make your head and back ache, flipping burgers at the beach concession stand can make you so hot you want to flip out… Having to commit to someone else’s schedule can also be a bummer. When your friends all want to head to the beach and you need to head to your job, that can feel really frustrating. But when they don’t have the money for _______ (you fill in the blank) you may feel like it was or worth while… Or Not.

It’s up to you to decide what works best for you (get it?)

Post Question:

What do you think is the best benefit of a summer job besides the money? What do you dread most about a summer job?

Answer the post question here

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