How to Make the Most of a Summer Job

Young man in front of Chamber of Commerce sign

Are your kids venturing into the world of seasonal jobs this summer? Here are a few great tips on how kids can make the most of these temporary jobs, shared by Alison Griffin – a resident contributor of Stroll Indian Peaks and mom of two sons who plan to work this summer.

As the school year draws to a close, the energy in my house is palatable. Yes, my teenage boys are ready to set aside their backpacks and homework schedules, but they are even more excited to step into the world of work. My oldest son, a 16-year-old, had his first taste of a summer job last season when he worked as a lifeguard at the Bob Burger Recreation Center in Lafayette. When his first paycheck was deposited into his bank account, one would have believed our family won the MegaMillions jackpot. His enthusiasm for working, and earning money, rubbed off on his 14-year-old brother. This spring, both of my boys worked on job applications and participated in interviews with local employers, and will be working in the community this summer.

Here are three benefits of a summer job, and how your student can make the most of a seasonal work experience.

  1. Earn money and learn how to build a budget. 
    A summer job offers young people the opportunity to earn money – whether to save for something they really want or to help supplement household income. For many young people, a summer job will be the impetus to open their first bank account. Maintaining a minimum balance, balancing a checking (or savings) account, and tracking spending are all valuable skills that will be foundational to their future financial success. Moreover, your student will need to complete a tax return the following year, which creates another learning opportunity with money management. In our family, we incentivized our 16-year-old by offering to match his tax refund through a deposit to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
  2. Gain experience working with different types of people. 
    Many summer jobs provide young people with the experience of working with customers. Young people will learn rather quickly that customer-facing experiences can be challenging. Learning how to manage difficult customers or work alongside colleagues who have a different work ethic can help a young person build both self-confidence and strengthen interpersonal skills. In addition, working with different types of people can also help a young person to expand their social and professional network, which could open the door to future opportunities in the field, or in the community.
  3. Experience an industry or job that may inform a career decision. 
    Young people should look at a summer job as an experience to “try out” new or unknown industries and roles. A simple summer job may be both a stepping stone into a career path or may be the certainty your student needs to never do that job again. Both experiences are valuable. A summer job can boost many skills and habits that will be beneficial to a longer career experience. All of the experiences and skills gained through a summer job should be documented on a student’s resume. While summer jobs are short-term employment experiences, they can be foundational to a student’s skill set and should not be diminished. In fact, some experiences may become the basis for a student’s college essay or could be the answer to a future interview question.

It’s not too late for your student to apply for a summer job. Many local employers are hiring young people, and are excited to engage your student’s energy, enthusiasm and curiosity this season.

This article originally appeared in the May 2024 issue of Stroll Indian Peaks.