While the summer can bring some much-needed rest and relaxation for students, there are plenty of ways to keep youth development in full swing during the warmer months. Summer camps, picking up new hobbies, and getting a summer job are all great ways for teens to make the most of their time.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of summer employment, some of the popular options, and the tips and tricks teens and families need to know.
A big difference between summer employment and other fun activities for teens is the real-life application of financial literacy skills. Summer employment exposes youth to taxes, saving versus spending, and the many aspects of banking. These are financial habits that they will need to navigate adulthood well, and often are some of the most difficult habits for even adults to learn.
If possible, try to give youth a level of independence with their income, so they can learn first-hand the consequences of spending versus saving their money. Families can help by giving youth a goal to work towards like paying for a new phone or a ticket to an amusement park or concert. Also consider exposing them to different banking options like credit unions, CDs, Money Market Accounts, and Teen Checking Accounts.
Build independence and self-esteem
Ultimately, the financial freedom gained from employment will give youth the skills to live independent, fulfilling lives as adults. Seeing the result of their hard work, making new connections with colleagues, and working towards a unified goal allows for adolescents to feel more independent and confident in themselves.
Youth can use this experience to find their voice and respectfully self-advocate. Employees of all ages and backgrounds should feel empowered and validated, so encouraging your youth to set healthy boundaries and feel empowered in the workplace helps set them up for success.
Develop career skills and soft skills
With each new generation of young people comes a new generation of employees entering the workforce. Certain aspects of career readiness like punctuality, adherence to a dress code, and professional boundaries are important to learn, but not always explicitly taught throughout adolescence. Learning and practicing these skills during summer vacation can give youth an edge up in the competitive world of work. Fortunately, these are skills that can benefit them in school as well.
Other soft skills like grit, problem solving, teamwork, and communication come into play in real-world scenarios when youth are employed. These are skills they may be working on in school or in after school programs. Practicing them in a work environment adds to the youth’s mastery of these soft skills and helps them reflect on what skills they need to improve further.
Allow for self-discovery
Summer jobs can be a great way for teens to explore different hobbies and interests. They may find a job that aligns with a career field they desire or one that is completely new to them. Much like job shadowing, this gives young people a chance to try out different career paths, so they can make more informed decisions for their futures as they mature.
Expand network and professional connections
As teens enter adulthood, they will need to grow their list of references beyond teachers and family friends. Summer jobs help youth build their network and list of professional references. Forming bonds with different managers and coworkers improves youth social development and expands their professional network.
A well-connected network can also lead to finding summer employment options.
Different cities may have different options available, so feel free to enlist the assistance of school staff or youth development professionals (like our wonderful Success Coaches) to find teen employment opportunities near you.
Nonetheless, there are some tried-and-true options that exist nearly everywhere.
When applying for jobs as a minor, it’s important to review local labor laws to see if there are any age requirements or restrictions. There may be forms to fill out or limits on what jobs youth of different ages are allowed to hold. Be sure to start this process sooner rather than later in case there are several requirements.
Once you have confirmed the necessary legal requirements for your youth, they will need to submit their applications. Different companies have different hiring processes, some with extensive applications and others with short, online forms. It’s better to be prepared, so teens should put together a resume and list of references. Make sure they ask for permission before listing any references’ contact information.
When planning for an interview, teens should pick out a business casual outfit (even if the job has a more casual dress code) and practice answering common interview questions. For summer jobs, it’s important to review scheduling preferences so jobs have a heads-up on any prior commitments in the next 3 months like when the youth needs to prepare for the school year.
Summer employment can be a pivotal moment for teens to gain valuable skills and insight into what adulthood holds for them. Plenty of options may exist, and even with the guidance and tips of those around them, some teens may want more thorough support in their pursuit of a summer job.
With Next Step To Success’ new program “NSTS+” older youth get specialized coaching that is career centered. The explicit goal of this program is summer employment for the youth involved, complete with regular check-ins throughout the summer to provide coaching and guidance.
Is your youth not old enough for NSTS+? No worries! Our regular after school and summer programming include activities and partner workshops that incorporate career readiness skills. Youth have even been hired after going to interviews with the portfolios they made in the workshops with our partners from Smart Transitions by the Together We Can Foundation.
Give your teen a leg up in the competitive world of work by signing them up for Next Step To Success. Find our application for the no-cost after school program or summer camp here.