Our kids are our future. Hey, I think there might be a song in there. But, they’re also our future employees. I’d encourage all leaders, organizations, and Human Resources departments to try to budget or implement a summer jobs or internship (paid) program.
Because our children – and our future employees – will gain experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their resumes, learn about a field, and be better able to assess their interest and abilities. They’ll be much more prepared to come to us after college. Some of the learning curve will be broken.
Offering summer jobs and paid internships is also beneficial because it enables economically disadvantaged youth to participate.
It’s a way to give back to the community.
Economists say teens from high-income backgrounds find summer work more easily than others, thanks to family and neighborhood networks. A Drexel University study found teens whose family income is $100,000-$149,000 held jobs at a rate of four in ten (in 2013), compared to an overall teenage rate of three in ten.
If you can level the playing field a bit, we’re helping everyone involved. We’re helping the community and the business.
It’s Not Always about the Internship
According to a recent article on PewResearch.org, in the 1970s and 1980s, most teens were working at least part of their summer vacation. Since the 1990’s, that number has dwindled to only about a third of teens having a job.
Ironically, according to CareerBuilder, summer jobs are returning at a faster pace this year and, in many cases, are paying more than the minimum wage. When you combine the two factors, summer jobs should be plentiful.
Fewer Young People Working
Pew Research believes there are multiple explanations for why fewer young people are finding jobs including: low-skills; more students enrolled in high school or college over the summer; and more students taking unpaid internships.
Teen summer jobs seem to have fallen out of favor among many college-bound kids. Students are looking for a competitive edge and believe internships give them that edge.
On the Other Hand: Students, Don’t Be So Quick to Dismiss the Traditional “Summer Job”
First of all, you get a paycheck. But, summer jobs give you resume-worthy achievements and professional experience. They also catch the eye of college admissions officers.
“Gaining work experience is meaningful,” says Bob Patterson, Stanford University’s former admissions director who is now vice president at an online college advising service, Chegg. “Admission offices want to see commitment, leadership and initiative and all three can be demonstrated in 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.”
Even Country Music Teaches You a Thing or Two
For me, I had two fantastic internships (unpaid, by the way) but, Patterson is correct. My summer jobs taught me just as much and gave me a firm foundation for my entry into the “real world.”
I gained keen business insight.
Way back when, I moved to Lexington, KY in between my Junior and Senior year of college. (Don’t ask.) I couldn’t begin school immediately and had to wait until winter when enrollment was complete.
With a few months to spare, I looked for a job. I pounded the pavement at the local mall hoping to be hired. I didn’t have that much experience and I had zero retail experience. The only opening was at The New Way Boot Shop – a western boot and attire store.
Yep, a western boot shop.
If you knew me, you would have laughed. It was in stark contrast to my personality. It was pretty funny but I wanted to work.
A requirement for working there was wearing cowboy boots. I’d never owned a pair. Actually, I’d never tried a pair on before. But, I figured that if I had to wear them that I was going to stand out.
And, that I did.
I picked out a pair of powder blue snakeskin boots. What possessed me? I’ll never know. I’m more than a little squeamish of snakes and to wear them on my feet, well, let’s just say it was unusual. Plus, it was about three weeks’ pay which wasn’t really the smartest thing.
However, I was going to do it up right.
It wasn’t uncommon to have a few country celebrities come in from time to time or their families. (And, I had no idea who they were) You’d also have wealthy businessmen and women from the horse industry come in quite regularly as well.
I was a fish out of water.
They started talking about things and I was clueless. I knew they looked at me like the young, naïve person that I was. One man actually became incensed that I had not heard of his country singing son. (I’ve learned greater tact since then). So, I realized very quickly that if I wanted to make more sales – and there was a nice sales commission for the high end boots – that I’d have to learn a bit more about the industry and what drew people to this store.
So, I watched, listened, and learned. I watched the way the manager would schmooze with the customers and what he got in return for it. I learned about the horse industry, the tobacco industry, and a little bit about country music.
I got to know my customer and it served me well financially.
I made a fair amount of commission, I got raises, and they wanted me to be groomed for manager of the new store they were going to open. I politely declined because school was more important and I wasn’t particularly endeared to retail – or western boots. But, that summer job taught me well.
Summer jobs pay dividends for your “real” jobs later in life. They also give you:
- Time management skills
- Insight into what you like and what you don’t like
- A leg up on future competition
- A larger network
Don’t dismiss them so easily.
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