High school teachers are in a unique position to usher the next generation into adulthood. Part of that mentorship should include speaking to students about summer jobs.
Today’s high school students face many options and dilemmas when it comes to how to spend their summers. Pressure is greater than ever to stand out on a college application. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the volume of college applications that universities receive continued to increase in 2018. This means, in addition to increased competition for admissions, scholarships and other forms of financial aid are also in high demand.
With this amplified pressure, many students will find themselves asking if they should take an internship for experience, volunteer to bolster their college applications, or get a job to save money. Each student’s situation is different, so learn more about their personal goals and challenges to ensure you give the best advice.
Summer Jobs for Students: Pros and Cons
Of all the option for how to spend a summer, jobs present a diverse mix of pros and cons. When speaking with your students about jobs, it’s important to weigh their concerns about their present and future accordingly.
Pros of Summer Jobs
Many adults credit their success with the challenging, often laughably miserable, summer jobs they worked. It’s true that no matter how insignificant the job may seem or how low the pay, there are many pros to taking a summer job.
- Learning Responsibility: Outside of school, a summer job is often the first major responsibility that students take on. They have employers, coworkers, and customers counting on them to show up and pull their weight. This early experience with providing value and displaying accountability is incredibly beneficial.
- Managing Money: Up until their first summer job, most students have limited experience with managing funds of their own. A first paycheck is often a great option for teenagers to open a checking account to start saving and spending according to a budget.
- Building Skills: From working at a pizzeria to a call center, there’s always something to learn from a position. The skills that students learn during their first job will likely translate to strengths in their future careers.
Cons of Summer Jobs
For all the pros of summer jobs, there are also some cons. They might include:
- Missing Rest: Summer often provides a valuable rest period for students. Working hard at a job might eliminate their ability to recharge between school years. They may return to school less refreshed, or worse, more rundown than when they left for the summer.
- Increasing the “Summer Slide”: When students minds aren’t on their studies or they don’t take part in activities that reinforce what they’ve learned during the school year, they may experience more “summer slide,” a decline in the academic skills they learned during the school year.
- Blurring of Goals: A student can get so caught up in their summer work that it’s hard to see outside of the current responsibility and how it plays into their larger goals. A sense of accountability to an employer might make a student miss volunteer and internship opportunities that would look better on a college application while also teaching them plenty.
Is an Internship a Better Choice?
Many high school students are lucky enough to not have many financial demands. That means high school might be the prime time to take an unpaid or low-paying internship. If students can get an internship, it is an incredible way to get their foot in the door and looks impressive on a college application. Some pros of internships include:
- Allowing students to explore and work in a field that interests them
- Giving an edge on college applications to programs in the same field
Still, internships often don’t offer the money that students would earn at a summer job, so their financial concerns should be carefully weighed. It’s also important that a student is mature enough to gain all that can be beneficial from an internship, such as making lasting connections and choosing the right company and field.
Life Lessons from Summer Jobs
Summer jobs provide invaluable life lessons to students, including social skills in a professional environment, experience with a boss for the first time, perspective about money and budgeting, and the value of teamwork.