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What Summer Jobs Teach Teens
Updated: June 01, 2021 |
Taylor Kovar, CFP

How Part-Time Jobs for Teens Teach Financial Responsibility and More

In 1978, over 40 years ago, 60% of all teens were pounding the pavement to get summer jobs, but today that number has fallen to 35%. It’s amazing to think about the fact that the number of teens trying to get a summer job is just over half of what it used to be. Summer is a great time to send kids out into the world to get a taste of working life while still returning home to the comforts provided by mom and dad.

Kids coming home from college are ready for a change of pace and may well be eager to get a job and start pulling in some cash of their own. Meanwhile, high school teens can work in their spare time not just in order to afford the luxuries they want but also to make themselves more attractive to college admissions officers and future employers. In my own case, I worked at a tire store, painted houses, mowed lawns, fueled airplanes, and worked in restaurants waiting and bussing tables. Some days were long, sure, but I’ve never regretted working a part-time job as a teen.

This makes the modern drop-off in the number of working kids even more dramatic to me. Personally, we feel that part of the reason for this is a lack of input and encouragement from parents. Your children probably aren’t going to beg you to let them go get an entry-level position, or even ask you how to get a summer job. So, you may need to give them a little shove; we share some tips for doing so down below.

Lessons from Part-Time Jobs for Teens

Spurring your teens to go out and get a temporary gig not only rewards you with some time to yourself in the house, but teaches them the 3 R’s: Responsibility, Respect, and Revenue.

1. Responsibility

When working at summer jobs, teens become familiar with the labor and planning employment involves. They learn to schedule, making certain to mark days off in the calendar, and washing their uniform before each shift. Managing a schedule that is not handed down by the registrar’s office at school is an entirely new beast for most kids.

Classroom and workplace responsibilities can build off one another, and learning the importance of completing a task on time can never be emphasized enough. Taking problems and questions to co-workers or managers is another reinforcement of responsibility on the road to adulthood and full-time employment. Your son, daughter or grandchild will learn responsibility from someone besides you when they get a summer job, and this makes a big difference once they’re trying to figure out how to find an internship to kickstart their careers later on.

2. Respect

Summer jobs offer young adults the opportunity to learn respect for roles they may have never thought about before. For many teens, work done in the background doesn’t really exist until they themselves have to do it. Have they ever wondered what it takes to open and run a swimming pool? A restaurant? A clothing store? A service job gives your child a fresh understanding of the effort involved in helping others.

Learning more about the different tasks in various industries gives children an appreciation for different paths of employment. It really opens their eyes. To work a food service job as a teenager is to learn a life-long respect for the waiter who manages to handle a dozen tables on a Friday night.

A bonus? After sweating through a few summer jobs, teens may learn to respect your long hours and hard work once they’ve had a tough day dealing with customers while standing on their feet.

3. Revenue

Everyone loves spending money, and who loves spending money more than kids enjoying summer? Isn’t that why the trees bloom in the spring, to sprout money for summer?

A summer job is a good source of revenue for teens. Sure, they probably will not amass piles of cash when they secure temporary employment, but they will make a lot more than if they do NOT get a job. However, part-time jobs for teens are not just about children earning money. A summer job affords you, the parent, the opportunity to teach your kids the value of a dollar, financial responsibility, and how to start saving and managing money. They really do need this guidance; they won’t ultimately appreciate you letting them spend all their money from their paychecks as they wish. Yes, they earned it, but as long as they’re under your roof, you get some say in how it is spent.

At this vital stage of growth, instilling good values for managing money pays off BIG in the long run. Sure, your kid may go wide-eyed at that first paycheck. But do not let that opportunity go to waste! Sit down and talk with your child about proper money management, financial responsibility, and how saving is often a smarter choice than spending.

Once teens work for their money, they’ll automatically gain a new perspective on spending their hard-earned revenue. When they want that new video game, you are now able to say, “Is it worth two weeks of work to you?” Or “If you spend it now, what happens during the school year when the next, better video game comes out?” Summer jobs for teens are not just about the revenue they can earn, it’s about learning to manage it.

How to Get a Summer Job (Or Help Your Kid Get One)

Here are three ways to help your kids get a part-time job suitable for teens this summer:

1. Beat the Crowds

Be the first on the block to drop in at local businesses and inquire about possible part-time jobs for teens and fill out an application. Dated applications mean you’ll be at the front of the line when they start making calls. Have your future wage earner keep a log of all applications so they can check in with each one as the days get warmer.

Starting early is also a good reminder to involve the even younger ones in a summer job. There are plenty of options for them even before they turn 14, like walking the neighbor’s dog, doing odd DIY jobs, pulling weeds, and the ever-popular lemonade stand. Instill a strong work ethic when they’re young and you all will benefit for a lifetime. Wouldn’t you rather make the basement into a gym someday than Junior’s apartment?

Part-time jobs for teens build financial responsibility.2. Look into the Future

Young people learn critical lessons at their first jobs, even if they are “just” mowing lawns or washing dishes. Think long-term. You can’t really put a price on your child learning the value of responsibility, respect, time management, commitment, saving, and spending. They’ll even learn about taxes! You may hear, “Who’s this FICA dude that takes money from all my checks?!” If they racked up some credit card debt during the school year, let them start to pay this down using their hard-earned money. Another great learning opportunity.

3. Think Beyond the Golden Arches

Get creative with your kids’ summer job possibilities. Some kids need to be outside, others are happy working in an office environment, and others would be happy stocking shelves. I get three or four phone calls every year in the spring from kids I knew years ago that are coming home from school, are looking for work experience, and want advice on how to find an internship. If we don’t have anything in my office, I try to find them a summer opportunity with a friend. You never know what it might lead to!

Now Is the Time for Your Teen to Get a Summer Job

With summer practically here, now is the time to encourage your child to head out into the job market. Even if your family is fortunate not to be concerned about cash flow, there are still many benefits to having your kid gain work experience. When teens work instead of sleeping in every day of the summer, they learn the strong work ethic that’s so absolutely essential to achieve success in the real world.

Beyond earning money, your children will learn responsibility, respect, financial responsibility, and valuable money management skills. Having greater obligations than schoolwork or chores is a tremendous educational tool for kids. Also, learning to deal with coworkers, managers, and customers (kind ones and difficult ones) is a valuable learning experience.

Take this summer to teach your kids about money management and you will help them for the rest of their lives. Learning to understand proper habits of saving and spending may seem like a drag to youngsters but it will change their lives in the long run. Don’t wait until they’re in college: make sure you get your kid out of the house and get a part-time job. There are plenty of lessons and skills worth learning that are not found in school and home alone.

Got any summer job tips you’d like to share? Please post them below.

Taylor & Megan Kovar

The Money Couple

Taylor and Megan Kovar, The Money Couple



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