The Value of a Summer Job

by Diana Drake

Economists love labor-force statistics, those numbers that help them determine all kinds of things about the improving or declining health of the economy — unemployment rates, new jobs, emerging job sectors, and so on. It was unsettling this spring when more than one newspaper headline heralded “The Death of the Summer Job.”

Competition from the College Application

The summer job has long been a way for teens to dip their toes into the workforce, begin to earn paychecks, and start to understand what it means to work for a living. Experts see it as a valuable first step toward becoming a full-time employee and to also begin saving money for your future.

However, labor-force statistics suggest summer jobs may not top the high-school-student priority list. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, last July only 4 in 10 teens were in the labor force, compared with about 7 in 10 in July 1978 – and this is while all the other labor market statistics for older people have been getting stronger.

Teen labor force numbers have been on the decline for decades. Many believe that summer job opportunities have been replaced by internships and volunteering that are thought to strengthen college applications, and lots of extracurricular activities – especially for those kids who have the financial means not to have to work. Paul Harrington, a professor at Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy in Philadelphia, and an expert on this issue, told NPR’s The Indicator business podcast on June 29, “The higher education system now, I would argue, punishes high school kids for working because the rewards in high school for college admission are not work-related. They’re…community service, that sort of thing and…extracurricular activities.”

Harrington and others have been lamenting the decline of summer jobs among teens, pointing out that they are invaluable preparation for employment later in life. What’s more, summer jobs teach so many key money skills, from earning a paycheck and learning to understand things like gross pay and net pay, to making choices about saving and spending. Many employers will deposit your paychecks directly into your bank account, a convenience that helps support savings. For those teens that haven’t yet opened an account, this is another summer-job advantage. Now’s the time to open one, as you begin to make smart financial choices for your future.

A big believer in the power of the summer job – as a hands-on financial education, as well as a skills builder – KWHS did some on-the-street research to find teen workers. We are happy to report that in many ways the summer job is alive and well. And we were reminded of another skill that makes the summer job difficult to replace: work ethic. This basically means that you show up on time, work extremely hard, dazzle your employers, and develop an internal drive to succeed, no matter what the task.

Buttered Toast and Better Skills

We recently met Katherine Paulino, a 17-year-old rising senior at Bodine High School for International Affairs in Philadelphia. Paulino is spending a big part of her summer waitressing at the T&N Homemade Kitchen restaurant in Northern Liberties, Pa., U.S. “This is my first job,” says Paulino, who hopes to go to college to major in marketing or management. “I decided to take this job because I’ve never had a real job before, I didn’t have any immediate summer plans, and I wanted to make my own money. My goal is to save enough money to buy a new phone, so I would need a job to do that.”

Paulino’s job duties include taking orders, working the cash register to ring up customers, bagging food and helping the cook in the kitchen, primarily by washing dishes and making buttered toast. “I think I’m learning valuable skills when it comes to working with others,” she says. “I feel like I’ve bettered my collaborative skills and communication skills. In school I’m working with people my age, which is fine but can become repetitive and can only teach me so much. At my job, I am the youngest person there and that factor has not been an issue so far. But it’s nice to work with someone with a different mind set than you. Also, I am gaining more things to put on my résumé. When I get to college, I will be able to say I’ve had a job before and know how to be a cashier, so I can get a job more smoothly. To earn my own paycheck is really satisfying and makes me feel accomplished. I work hard and I do my job very well, so I know I deserve to be there and earn my own money.”

While Paulino has more of a traditional summer job, it’s important to remember that you have lots of options to enter the workforce. Candace Fowler, a long-time saver and a writer for Money Crashers, a personal finance blog, says, “Working part-time, even if that just means taking on irregular gigs when you’re not in class or working toward your academic goals, is crucial to your efforts to build a savings cushion before and during college.”

Fowler adds, “Look for opportunities that play to your personal or academic strengths. If you have a knack for writing or graphic design, look for freelance projects in those fields. If you’re a gifted communicator, seek out tutoring work in your strongest academic disciplines. None of these opportunities need to monopolize your time. Those requiring specialized knowledge, such as tutoring, pay significantly more than minimum wage, meaning you can earn a decent paycheck with as few as 10 to 15 hours of effort per week.”

It’s not too late to get a job this summer, which you might classify as an enrichment program with long-term employment and financial-literacy benefits. Where will you work?

Related Links

Conversation Starters

Do you work a summer job? Is it a valuable experience? Why or why not?

How do you feel about the argument that fewer teens, especially those with money, are working jobs because they are doing activities to bolster their college applications? Do you feel they’re missing out?

High school is a particularly important time to begin developing money skills so you can make informed decisions later about your finances. Are the activities that you choose to do outside of school helping to build your financial literacy? Share your experiences in the comments section of this article.

46 comments on “The Value of a Summer Job

  1. Unfortunately I don’t have a summer job. It’s not so commum in my country and also I don’t have time to fit it in my summer plans, due to my studies and tasks.
    Well, about the matter of “not-so-many” students having summer jobs, of course it is a great experience, but there are many other activities that are as incredible. I mean, the best way to learn and improve ourselves is through life experience, but our time is limited and so we are not able of having all the experiences that this world offers. So I think that everyone has to discover his own path and follow it the best way possible, choosing the activities that will be of best use to him, that will bring the greatest improvement.
    In fact, a summer job is one of the best picks among the extra activities pool. It helps a lot in the understanding of finances and the marcket movement. But it can also be obtained through other activities, like: I learned a lot about finances when I took WHARTON’s Investment Competition, and now I have plans of really investing in stocks; also I learned how to manege money well when I was really young and worked as cashier (informally) in my father’s ice cream shop.
    Summarizing, these are of great importance and every student should develop them. Having a summer job is a good way of doing it, but not the only one. And everyone has to reflect until he/she knows the choice that has to be taken.

    • Hi Ícaro! Thank you for your thoughtful perspective. I’m curious about your home country and the fact that it’s not so common for teens to have jobs. I love learning about other cultures and how they are different. It’s true that this article is very U.S.-centric, so I would appreciate your more global perspective on teens working in summer jobs.

      • Hi, I’m from India. Here, summer jobs as a concept doesn’t really exist. We aren’t usually encouraged by our parents to go and work at a restaurant per say. Some Safety issues persist and in this paradigm the common opinion is why to work when you don’t need money.
        However, I feel summer jobs are really helpful. In India, we as children coming from middle class families grow up in a very protected and privileged environment, It’s vital for us to move out of it and face life.
        I did an internship this summer and it was an eye opener. I took the metro and spent 8 hours working. As students, We’re so used to the Roadmap, the customary way of living, nobody really tells us that managing our finances and dealing with daily mental stress ( that you might go through during a job) are of utmost importance. At a job, you meet people from different spheres of life and trust me, it helps. Be it Multiplying your wealth or daily political news, you learn a lot. It also kind of makes you reconnect. Leave your phones and see the diversity that exists. You get the knack of convincing people (it’s tough, really) and taking orders. As a waiter, you need to listen to the manager even when he’s being irrational. You learn to lead and take orders at the same time.
        Also, the fact that a summer jobs cut across barriers of wealth, race or caste makes them a must. Expecially in a country where Caste system has existed for so long. A clear example is Obama’s Daughter, Sasha. On a broder Spectrum, these jobs might just tie our generation together and eradicate the divisions.
        But, The one thing I feel a summer job falls short of is instilling a skill. Unless you’re a freelancer, cultivating art, you don’t get any specialisation in a summer job. Given the status quo, we need individuals who are specialised, exclusive and holistically developed at the same time. So, summer jobs that develop your craft, frame your interests are needed.
        Yes, extracurricular activities do build our profile and contribute a lot, but for the real, unpredictable view of life and the society, and for great management skills, we must go for summer jobs. Waiting for the cultural shift here in India, among other things the summer jobs will increase the respect for labor and reduce our sense of privilege!

        • Thank you for your thoughtful perspective, Srishti. I would love to know what you did for your internship! Please respond when get a chance.

      • Hi Diana! I’m from Brazil. Here teenagers can indeed have some kind of jobs, in programs like “Jovem Aprendiz” (Young Apprentice). But it’s not exactly like summer jobs. Personally, I think that the biggest difference is the bureaucracy envolved. I’ve never lived in the US but at least I think that there it’s “easier” to get a formal job while a teenagers, because it does not involve a specific governmental program like here, right?

  2. I’ve never had a summer job, so I feel that I don’t have much credibility in my response. However, I’ll go ahead anyways.

    I want to pursue business in university, so I’ll be talking from this perspective. There are a few options to do in summer – start / expand your own business, participate in an entrepreneurship summer camp, intern in a company, self-study for future tests, travel etc.

    It’s really hard to get an internship experience if you want to study business. I’ve approached several firms, which don’t accept high school students (they only accept juniors in college or older), due to lack of knowledge and experience. At least, this is true in Shanghai, China. So, my attempt to intern is blocked.

    I really don’t want to get a summer job. What jobs can high school students do? In this article, Paulino is a temporary waitress. Although I see how reflective Paulino is with her experiences, commenting on everything she’s learnt, I don’t think a waitress is a particularly skilful job which requires much training.

    Fowler talks about jobs requiring specialised training for high school students, like tutoring. While the minimum wage is different in the different states, high school students aren’t perceived as “credible” unless you are extremely gifted and talented (in academics) and is a great tutor with previous experiences. I don’t think this is realistic for many, as high school students can tutor middle school students or younger. Student tutors will have competition from professional tutors, decreasing demand for student tutors.

    While Harrington and others have touched upon many skills you can learn, those most fundamental financial skills only apply to those who haven’t had previous experience to it. As a current economics and business student, I’ve developed financial literacy, hence I already know what “gross pay”, “net pay” etc. are. I’ve also used these terms when I was in Grade 6 when I started my first computer game business.

    Less relatively wealthy teens are doing jobs because there are more meaningful things. I’ve read an article on KWHS before saying “Our generation is full of humanitarians and philanthropists”. Many people think we do community service for college application, but most of us do it from the bottom of our hearts. We want to impact and change the world in a way the whole society can benefit. That often comes to service, whether volunteering or fundraising or donating. My school offers students to go to Uganda and Nepal for service trips, and many students wish to go.

    Personally, I’ve been developing my social enterprise by myself. I’m currently building a website on Wix for it, but I already have an official QR code for a Wechat account (major platform in China). I think this is the most valuable project I can do in my summer vacation, as it will boost my social enterprise when the school year starts. While I’m building the website, I’m also crowdfunding so I have enough funds to operate during the next academic year, as well as spreading my social enterprise to different companies. Although I’m not a registered tax-deductible charity, I hope to expand it to the extent I can get it officially approved.

    Whether one wants to participate in a summer job is totally up to them, but there is always an opportunity cost. One must weigh in the value of this cost, which may worth and value more than a summer job.

    • Hi Harry! As always, we love your opinions! It sounds like you have a penchant for self-employment, which is a great way to begin to learn the freelance labor market and earn some money. Personally, I think high school students can do lots of jobs and do them well. More importantly, jobs are an extension of the learning they get in other places. For example, waitressing is a great way to learn people skills (you are dealing all day with customers, both happy and grumpy), and you must multi-task in a big way, especially when it gets busy. I was a waitress for 10 years, starting as a busgirl when I was 17, and the experience prepared me in many ways for a career in journalism. I had to learn to be on time, stay calm in stressful restaurant moments, and remember lots of details when my pen wasn’t readily available. Great training for a future reporter! So, even though some jobs may seem on the surface to not provide skills, they are actually so valuable.

      • Thanks for your anecdote Diana! This is actually making me reconsider my opinion – I never thought of the variety of skills and the invaluable experience of a waitress. However, I do agree with you that the core skills are not transferrable. I’m not sure whether it’s worth it though, to spend so many years and a full time job.

        Haha – I’m not extremely inclined to self employment. I just watched Jack Ma’s interview on the World Economic Forum in January 2018, and I’m taking his advice (he really is a genius). The quotation is

        “When you are 20-30 years old, follow a good boss, and learn from him or her; when you are 30-40 years old, you can try something interesting and go for it; when you are 40-50 years old, things get dangerous if you are doing interesting things, so go for the less risky options; when you are 50-60 years old, pass on your skills to the next (younger) generation; when you are 60 years or older, stay with your grandchildren”.

        I can’t believe I typed all of that out… Anyways, on to the main point – maybe a variety of skills can be learnt from a good leader, experienced worker, or boss. I’m not sure, however I’d probably like more advice even after university before starting my own business or company. Jack Ma does say that 30-40 is the best age for entrepreneurship, and I do agree as one can afford to fail and get a new job.

        I’ll dig into this a little further and see if I can get a summer job next summer. I’m afraid I’m occupied this one! However, I am planning to attend Wharton’s LBW Summer Programme next summer…

        Thanks again Diana!

    • Hey Harry! From your comment, I infer that you are currently residing in China, so I completely understand how our opinions on summer jobs differ, as I live in the United States. You mention how “high school students aren’t perceived as ‘credible'”and that you “don’t think [tutoring] is realistic for many”. I, myself, am a high school tutor who reaches clients both independently and through a company, and I truly believe that tutoring jobs are a completely viable option for high schoolers. While this may not be the case in China, I can only speak for my personal experiences in the U.S. Like you said, there can sometimes be skepticism directed at high school tutors, as they might not have the same resources and experience as professional tutors. However, there is an increasing demand for tutors, and many times families do not want to pay the high rates of professionals (they often charge $40 USD – $150 USD) which is why they rely on student tutors who are in a good academic standing (students charge $10 USD – $30 USD and some even do it for free). For reference, I tutor elementary kids all the way up to high school students.

      You state that “most fundamental financial skills only apply to those who haven’t had previous experience to it”. While this may be applicable in some scenarios, I still believe that a summer job is still worthwhile because each job presents new challenges and different experiences. Summer jobs, whether it may be waitressing at a restaurant or being a cashier at a department store, provide an insight on what life is like to an average worker and helps develop skills that cannot necessarily be acquired at a corporate job. When I just began tutoring, it definitely took a while before I had any clients, but along the way I learned key skills about how to advertise myself and the professionalism I had to maintain with my clients. Many of my friends often tell me that I am lucky to be earning so much money by just sitting at a desk 3-4 times a week, but tutoring can be mentally grueling which is why I feel like it has shaped me into a better person. I am grateful for all the skills I have acquired through this job and cannot wait to learn more.

      We can also take one of my friends, for example. She comes from a family of millionaires, and this summer she decided to pickup a job as a waitress at a sushi restaurant. She could be doing many other things with her summer, but she chose to work instead in order to gain an understanding of the real value of money and develop appreciation and gratitude towards people who make a living off of minimum wage jobs. The best part about these stereotypical high school summer jobs (barista, waitress, cashier, etc.) are the people you meet. They come from all walks of life and may have wisdom to share that no college or hedge fund can offer.

      You further mention in your comment how you have developed “financial literacy” already which is why you know the terms “gross pay” and “net pay”. Please take no offense to this, but knowing the definition of terms simply does not prepare you for the real world after college; a real job does. Like Diana states in her reply “some jobs may seem on the surface to not provide skills, they are actually so valuable”. Even by working as an employee at a grocery store or diner, you would have to familiarize yourself with the terms “gross and net pay”, as your paycheck is a reflection of those terms.

      I completely agree with you on how it would be nice to have an abundance of internship opportunities available to high schoolers to provide them an insight of what their future might hold, but also like you said, there are many other ways to make your summer meaningful: service trips are a great way to give back to the community in a larger capacity.

      Like you, I want to pursue business in my future, and I truly hope that the social enterprise you are heading is a huge success this year. I am well acquainted with the work associated with building a website and crowdfunding and wish that all your endeavors prosper! I just want to conclude by saying that small things such as summer jobs have value and it isn’t always “go big or go home”.

      • Hey Nikhita, Diana, and Harry,

        While reading all of your extremely thoughtful and well-crafted arguments, something occurred to me: by nature of the fact that we all are reading and commenting on this article, we argue from the perspective of collegiate-bound, driven people. We speak from hearts with career plans and big dreams from the future. We likely read this article as a discussion of the “value-added” by summer jobs to our college applications and lives. We probably share these characteristics, and I personally hope they are signs of a future of success and passion. However, by no means is every teenager in the world like us in that way, and for that reason, we cannot debate the true importance of summer jobs for every student without recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all map for a life and career path.

        We haven’t yet discussed the fact that for many students that do not attend college, summer gigs turn into full-time jobs when high school is over. Some students may not be bound to attend prestigious universities or obtain higher education at all (regardless of whether you believe in universal higher education or not, this is the reality of today). For these teens, completing other activities like the community service trips Henry mentioned may not be the best fit. Job experience and networking, even in unskilled positions, are more likely to advance these students in their pathway than a volunteer position that they are doing “just for the app.” And of course, for students with financial situations that necessitate supplemental income, it is absurd that a summer job would be pushed aside in favor of an activity that seems to be more favorable to colleges. That being said, I completely agree with Henry and Nikhita that other summer activities have immense value and should be explored, if possible, as well. The important point is that teens are well rounded and prepared for their future, for whatever path they may take.

        Now, I would like to say that I have never worked a minimum wage job. I have been fortunate enough not to need to support my family with supplemental income. However, I do tutor and work on the weekends with an entertainment company, and being that I grew up in a family that owns a small business, I hope that I have some sense of the value of money. I am really humbled by people who work labor and minimum wage jobs— especially teenagers, and even more especially teenagers who are wealthy enough to not need to work, like the waitress Nikhita mentioned. While perhaps the “core skills” of waitressing are not transferable, the drive to work is something that needs to be constantly cultivated, and whether you are a millionaire or just getting by, not only are the people skills gained valuable, but also the development of a strong work ethic is a cornerstone of success and happiness.

        I would like to finish with two points. One is that I don’t really believe in the “opportunity cost” that Henry mentioned, in the sense that by taking advantage of one open door, you do not close all others. The saying, “whatever you are, be a good one” rings true no matter what activity you choose to do over the summer. If you are a fantastic icecream scooper from June to August, you might not have added 1,000 community service hours to your resume, but you did something that is truly impressive: earned your way to success. And that summer at the icecream parlor might introduce you to your next CEO taking his kids out for soft serve. Maybe you’ll be shift manager after two dedicated summers. Maybe you’ll be inspired to make your own ice-cream startup, and you’ll have the skills to do so. Certainly with some exceptions, if you do whatever you’re doing well, there is always more room for success.

        My other point is that it seems to me that colleges understand the value of summer jobs. Admissions counselors seem to constantly advise on the value of doing what works for you, and a summer job works for many of us. If you’re looking to enhance your college application with a job, your success depends what you can gain from the experience, how well you can express that growth, and what opportunities you take from that point on.

        A summer job is not flashy, and no one becomes a millionaire in three brief months. But for three brief months, students who are typically trapped in a world of textbooks without real world experience have the opportunity to put what they learn in school (whether knowledge, skills, or ethics) to the test. We have four summers in high school: there is time to work, learn, play, and travel. I believe that the best way to “do” summer is to do everything that fits for you, and to take full advantage of whatever that may be— especially a summer job.

        I’d love to hear your thoughts, and good luck with everything that you all are doing!

        Mikhal Ben-Joseph

        P.S. And because I’m spending this week in a Spanish speaking country (ironically taking a break from the summer job I do have), I’ll leave you with this saying: “Vale la pena”— in other words, “It’s worth the effort”.

        • Hi Nikhita and Mikhal,

          Thanks for your insight. First of all, I’d like to ask Nikhita – are you a high school student tutoring another high school student? I’m not sure how AP (or the American system) exactly works, but that’s impossible for the IB, the course I’m taking, during high school. Or do you teach other classes? It’s great to hear that you are earning money from tutoring! The community in China is totally different to an annoying extent – people are willing to pay around RMB 1000 – 2000 ($160 to $320 equivalent) per hour for a lesson. Although I feel like it’s totally unnecessary, parents pressure their kids for “the best” (aka the most expensive) education… However, I do agree now in retrospect that high school tutors are capable, but to get a job you’d need good marketing, and probably be in a community of support, trust, and integrity.

          I do agree to some extent about the experience your friend had as a waitress. Developing a gratitude towards people who earn minimum jobs can be achieved through other activities. However, meeting different people with different backgrounds and experiences is quite valuable. I thought this could be achieved in an internship, but do correct me if I’m wrong. Please also see my response later on showing how valuable service activities are.

          My reference to “net and gross pay” was actually from the article above. Key money skills may be developed without a summer job – through starting your own business throughout the year. It doesn’t need to be a summer job. It can be self-employment. And that, does prepare you for real life. Alternatively, as a requirement in my Economics and Business course, I need to learn and apply these terms. Yes, I did say “apply”, which is used in a simulation. Of course, a valid argument is that applying isn’t the same as the real world, and simulations aren’t real. However, they are still useful.

          In addition, if you read my original comment carefully, I did use those terms under a real life situation. Although within school, it’s far better than a simulation. Back to my main point – you don’t necessarily need a summer job to develop and actually use financial literacy.

          I’m actually terrible with computers, so it took me a long time to learn to code, but then it was too confusing so I decided to use WiX instead. “Go big or go home” is more like the spirit of an entrepreneur, however considering that this article is related to summer jobs, I must agree with you! Thanks again!

          Hi Mikhal,

          I do not believe in universal education, because it’s true in mainland China and especially Hong Kong. Demand for universities is higher than supply, so the market is in excess demand, forcing many students to either go abroad (which costs more), or not going to uni at all.

          In this scenario, community service may not be the best option. However, life will get more and more busy especially if one doesn’t go to uni (because of real life stress matters). Of course, not everyone gives back to the community; not everyone has time to help others; not everyone knows what poverty is actually like. If that’s the case, then service isn’t a good option. I know that many people are religious, and they’d like to give back to the community, care about those who are underprivileged, develop empathy for those who live under absolute poverty, make donations, etc. According the Washington Times, 84% of the world has faith, so trying community service before real life stress approaches is often a good option.

          On the other hand, families that actually need support will hopefully receive it, and with extra money from family jobs, it’d be even better.

          I think our interpretations of “opportunity cost” are different. I’ve always thought it meaning the next best alternative foregone. What I exactly said was

          “One must weigh in the value of this cost, which may worth and value more than a summer job.”

          The next best alternative of a summer job, may be community service. If someone is religious, that’s a massive opportunity cost to give up. When weighing this opportunity cost, one may find it isn’t absolutely worth it for the summer job. I’m still sticking with my opinion here, and I still thinking opportunity cost is a major factor in considering what to do for the summer.

          I like your example, however it seems flawed to me. You didn’t miss 1000 community service hours to pad your résumé. You missed the experience – whether teaching children in impoverished regions, playing music at elderly homes, helping to build an orphanage, fundraising in high temperatures, or raising awareness. And that, is a totally invaluable experience, which I think is more valuable than Nikhita’s friend’s experience. The people I’ve met from service – they have come from all walks of life as well, and share wisdom. They’ve experienced more than anyone can imagine, going around the world to help the needy, or staying in an LEDC and volunteering for months.

          I’d argue service is more valuable than a summer job, but again, it can be easily refuted. Personally, I think community service is truly impressive. Way more impressive than a shift manager of an ice cream shop. The world is changing. The future generation needs people that are skilful, tact, and experienced but also compassionate, caring, and true global citizens of the world.

          Thank you both!

          P.S. I’m Harry, not Henry 🙂

          Looking forward to hear back from you!

          • Hey Harry! It was nice hearing back from you 🙂 Last year, when I was in 10th grade, I tutored a girl in 9th grade from another school in the subject AP Human Geography. My school doesn’t offer the IB system (our classes only go up to AP), but I am well acquainted with the IB system since many of my friends at other schools have access to it. I agree that it is indeed nearly impossible to tutor in IB classes, as you take all your IB exams at the end of your senior year and often receive your scores after you’ve graduated (please correct me if I am wrong). I don’t know how your school works, but are there any classes offered that are not IB such as regular level or honors classes? I ask that because last year at my school my AP Chemistry teacher asked our whole class if anyone was interested in tutoring (it would be paid) students in normal chemistry classes. This opportunity to tutor was only possible because regular class students only learned the basics of a few concepts we covered in our AP course throughout the year.

            Also, my extended family resides in India, and when I told them I was tutoring, they were shocked that people were willing to hire someone as young as me. I think it’s really just the cultural difference because I know for a fact that my cousins who study in international schools in India (they follow the IB system I believe) would only go to professionals for tutoring and would be iffy to take from a high schooler. I realize that this may not happen in other parts of the world, but tutoring is highly encouraged within my school/city but in more of a “community service” aspect. Many of our school’s honor societies have connections with middle and elementary school teachers and send us there to help with tutoring in return for service hours. One of my middle school math teachers actually calls back her prior students to help tutor her current students (some of these jobs are paid while others are not). Also, I am very thankful for the school community we have in the U.S. because in high school, whenever students ask teachers about any tutors they would recommend, they most often refer high school students they have taught before. I actually got my first tutoring job by replying to a bulletin I found in school!

            When it comes to the topic of community service, I could not agree with you anymore in that it is a meaningful experience and a way to meet people from different walks of life. I realize I barely touched on this in my prior response, but I do believe that service really does hold a great value depending on the type of person you are. Many of my friends spend hours of their lives volunteering, but some do it for the sole purpose of attaining an “x” amount of service hours without putting their heart into it. I feel that if you are doing community service, it should always be done wholeheartedly in order to fully receive that invaluable and priceless experience. Personally, I do hold service in higher regards than any job, but I think we can come to a consensus in that not everybody might think that way. This winter break I am traveling to a small village in India to help in rural development, building toilets, empowering women. For me, this experience will provide me memories I can cherish for a lifetime, and yes, it is worth more to me than my job. Then again, everyone is different which is why we cannot take away the credibility and value a job might for an individual.

            I apologize for misunderstanding your “net and gross pay” comment; I did not mean it any negative way. Also, financial literacy can be developed through simulations and will especially be helpful when working in the real world. I agree with you when you said “you don’t necessarily need a summer job to develop and actually use financial literacy”; summer jobs are just one method of doing so.

            When it comes to internships, I have never had one so far, so I cannot tell you whether or not you can go through the same experiences. Sorry. Also, my “go big or go home” comment was just to make a point that not everybody has the same ambitions or goals. You are developing a website and literally a whole enterprise at such a young age which is extremely impressive. You are someone who is “going big”, and that shouldn’t discredit anyone who is “still at home”. (I hope that metaphor makes sense).

            Thanks for responding :), and again I wish you nothing but success for your venture.



            WiX is a really good website developer, and I would love to see what you have created! Maybe leave a link when you are finished with it?

          • Hi Nikhita,

            Somehow I can’t reply to your comment, so I’ll have to reply to my previous comment…, which is a little awkward.

            My school is a little weird :(. When you step into Grade 11, only IB courses are offered (to everyone). We don’t have an honors system or a regular system – everyone just has to take IB. And yes, you are right – the graduating class of 2018 got their results a few days ago.

            It’s great that your school gives opportunities like this, especially tutoring (as it can be paid or community service). But again, I can totally relate to your extended family living in India. Although in the international community, we are still somewhat influenced by the local culture. I’m impressed you can tutor someone only one grade younger than you! Great work!

            I love what you do for community service (and I absolutely agree that not everyone regards service highly)! Service comes from deep inside, requiring lots of passion and time. When reflecting on this experience, you’ll be so proud of yourself. Do you have an Indian heritage? I have a Chinese heritage, although I’m a Canadian who resides in China. What I truly love is helping communities that need it most, and especially when I have a personal connection. I’ve never built toilets (or any physical construction) or empowered women in my service. I do think they are especially important as gender inequality in India is still prevalent (correct me if I’m wrong), and sanitation needs lots of improving.

            I understand the metaphor now – thanks for clarifying :). That’s probably why I was predicted a A- for English First Language, but I’ll get my results in a month (scary though, two days before school and a few after my birthday)!

            I wish you the best with your trip in the winter break! It sounds amazing, and once you finish, I recommend you to write an article with your experiences and send it to KWHS through the feedback section. I’d like to read it!

            Best regards,

            P.S. I’m almost done, but I’m waiting for WiX to get a 50% discount. i literally missed the last discount by 5 hours so I’ll have to wait until another one gets up. I really don’t want to spend my funds raised after lots of hard work on powering up a website. I do need to subscribe / pay though, to remove ads and custom domain.

            This is what it is right now:


            I’m not done yet, and that’s obviously a terrible domain name xD. I’ve still got “Meet the Team” to do when school starts and the crowdfunding (donations) tab. Interestingly enough, I’ve done most of my crowdfunding in person, which took up lots of time. It works though!

            I haven’t shown this link to anybody yet as I just published the website. Neither have I checked for any grammatical errors so please bear with me!

          • Hi Harry,

            For some reason it’s not letting me reply to your comment which, like you said, is a bit awkward. To answer your question, I do indeed have an Indian heritage but I was born and brought up in the United States. All of my extended family still lives in India, so I visit often and have a deep understanding of the local culture and lifestyle.

            It’s so cool that you are a Canadian living in China, and I truly respect and admire your commitment to giving back to your roots through you social enterprise. I checked out your website, and it looks amazing! I love the message behind it and am eager to also participate in the $2 meal challenge myself. 🙂 I really respect how you have done all your crowdfunding in person and are so wise about spending that money. That’s a great feat to achieve at such a young age. You should be extremely proud of yourself!! I also wish you the best of luck on your results and I am sure you did amazing. 🙂

            I definitely will try to write an article on my experience in India if time allows!


            I totally understand you on the WiX thing regarding domain names; I hate how they make you pay for a domain but advertise it as a free website developer.

  3. Hi everyone,

    I think that having at least one job during high school is a necessary part of growing up to prepare for teenagers for their transition into adulthood. Last summer, I was lucky enough to be able to work as a teller for a local bank in my area, in which I learned not only how to manage my own money, but also about the basics of commercial banking. In my opinion, real-life experiences teach us a lot more than any books would teach us about financial literacy and money management. Seeing actual clients buy various types of financial products like CDs (Certificates of Deposit), or start different types of accounts and funds, educated me more on money management than my 10th-grade financial literacy course did. But other than the various financial concepts I learned during my time at the bank, I was also picked up on certain client-relations skills, and sales skills that I wouldn’t have been able to learn if I didn’t take the job. Whether it was pitching a credit card to a regular customer, or asking new customers if they wanted to open a checking account, I learned new ways to market certain things as time went by. Even experiences like labeling and documenting different bags of coins that were dropped off by the police department, making withdrawals and deposits for customers, and referring clients to our financial advisor were all valuable experiences that also taught me a lot about human interaction in the field of Business. Talking to some of the bank’s clients was also fascinating; I was able to meet lawyers, dentists, policemen, and all types of entrepreneurs, which also gave me the opportunity to network with some of these individuals. Especially since Business is the field I want to go into, I believe that spending a majority of the summer in the bank was worth my time.

    But other than my work as a teller, I’ve also worked independently as a tutor for the past two years, especially during the summer where I help different kids prepare for certain standardized tests or certain subjects like math and physics. Despite the fact that tutoring isn’t directly related to the career I want to pursue, I believe that the process of working, making my own money, and making decisions on how to spend it is beneficial as it gives me preliminary experience in budgeting. Covering mortgages, car payments, property taxes, and utility bills are all vital parts of being an adult; while eating out occasionally and buying gasoline aren’t as big of expenses as those are, the experiences teenagers gain now while managing their own money helps them with budgeting their money as they grow older and more expenses come into the picture. As of now, I’m also building a website to advertise my tutoring business and attract more clients, which has also helped me augment my marketing skills (which is especially necessary when talking during a job interview or creating a resume).

    Other than the knowledge and practical skills I’ve gained from my work experience as a teller and tutor, having a job can also be rewarding in other aspects. While a bank may not seem like a likely place for memorable experiences, I once helped someone deposit 42 dollars worth of pennies for ten minutes into a cash machine and found a one dollar bill with the ends of ten dollar bills attached to it. Not being able to use my phone (except during lunch breaks) helped me save a lot of money on data and helped curb my FIFA addiction, which was a nice plus as well.

    Some students may opt to participate in volunteering or expensive programs during their summers; nevertheless, I believe that having any type of summer job can be beneficial in a number of ways, but especially in educating kids on how to manage their money and how to communicate effectively. In a world where getting a job is becoming increasingly competitive, it’s a necessity for all of us to garner as much experience as possible before entering the workforce.



  4. I have a summer job as a lifeguard and it is a valuable experience because people depend on me for safety. Life guarding taught me patience and how to stay silent with people, and it taught me to always be ready for an emergency. I understand why students participate in other activities instead of working, but having a job can only help people with skills for the future. Outside of school and work I only deal with money when spending it. I used to work as a cashier so I work well with money, but honestly no I do not work with my financial skills (like I should).

  5. Teenagers do summer jobs for many different reasons. Some teens may be motivated to work because they want extra cash to buy a new car, phone, or other items while others may want to work to save money for college or to help out their family’s finances. Also some other teens may want to work in order to gain experience and skills that will help them out in the future. However, common traits that they all share are that they are diligent and hard working. They take time out of their summer and take advantage of their free time to be productive by working jobs instead of just relaxing all day long. Summer jobs require lots of effort and time which teens will get to experience, and the jobs will help make them better prepared and get a feeling of what it’s like when they do enter the work force.

    Teens who do a summer job will learn that the job doesn’t just give you money, but it also allows you to interact with all kinds of people and it is a very helpful learning experience. The experience will help you deal with all kinds of people that you will meet and will especially help out in business because you interact with a variety of people all the time. Katherine Paulino’s job of waitressing will help her out if she pursues a career in marketing, management, or any business career because waitressing requires her to interact and deal with all kinds of people, impolite, rude or pleasant, which will help improve her people skills and communication skills. Even though waitressing doesn’t sound like a very important job, I believe that it teaches you valuable skills that will help you be successful. Many people look at famous celebrities success, but they don’t see the hard work that the celebrities put over the summer as teenagers. Carrie Underwood, an American singer and songwriter, used to work as a gas station cashier during the summer in her teens. She said that the summer job has helped prepare her for her current career as a singer. Even though a gas station cashier doesn’t sound like much, it played a big role in her life and her success. I can relate to both Katherine and Mrs. Underwood because I work a summer job of caddying at a golf course and I feel that it is very beneficial to me. Caddying requires you to interact and to aid golfers so it has allowed me to interact with some golfers who are very kind and helpful while others weren’t as pleasant, and these experiences have helped me deal with different types of people. Dealing with all these golfers has helped me try to find positives things I learned from them, to not become discouraged and instead to use the negative comments when I make mistakes to help myself improve as a caddie, and to leave out the negative things that I have experienced.

    Summer jobs allow for you to also practice your skills when you interact with other people. For example, I wasn’t really interested in the money, however, I was more interested in learning from the golfers because the golfers sometime share stories or financial tips or information with me. This allows me to practice discussing with them about the current stock market using my knowledge of being able to analyze P/E ratios, earnings predictions, and current news to predict stock performance. I feel that it is a very valuable experience and that it is more valuable than making money because I think that these experiences have the potential to help me become successful. A bonus about summer jobs are that you get paid. Even though I wasn’t that interested in making money from caddying, I felt very accomplished after receiving my hard-earned money and there was joy in being able to do whatever I wanted with the money without the control of my parents.

    To conclude, a summer job is an important experience for teenagers in order to learn and practice valuable life skills. Taking a summer job will not just give you money, but it also get you prepared for the workforce. I have learned a lot and experienced a lot form summer jobs, and I believe that a summer job has helped me become stronger mentally and better prepared for my finance career interest. No matter what kind summer job you take, it can change you into a very successful person.

  6. “Leila, this is the third time I am asking you to stop spitting,” I said as I once again had to wipe up the spit on the floor for the third time that day. I was on the verge of losing my patience and struggled to keep a calm tone while addressing my third-grade student. Though I was working as a computer programming teacher, I felt like a babysitter. I enjoy working with kids and find teaching to be a great way to think about the concepts I already know in different ways, which is why I took up this summer job. I enjoyed the challenge of putting together curriculum and applying my technological knowledge outside of school, plus I had the added bonus of receiving a paycheck for my efforts. However, it only took one student to make me question if the job was worth having.

    Dancing, talking about My Little Pony, and spitting are just a few of the things that one of my students, Leila, prefers to do instead of focusing on her work. That day, as I struggled to keep my bearings, I was faced with a challenge I had never experienced before. Usually, I’m able to keep my students under control with the incentive of giving them candy if they follow my directions and can answer my questions. However, with Leila, it was a different story. It seemed as though every day was opposite day; every time I said “Can you please sit down and get back to coding instead of dancing,” she would continue dancing, flailing about as if she didn’t hear a single word I said. The toughest moments were when she would get bored and spit on the floor, laughing as I had to wipe it up. No matter how hard I tried or how many lollipops I offered to give her, she simply would not behave. She only paid attention to what I had to say when we would talk about My Little Pony, which is how I came to a solution. I found that by teaching computer programming concepts through My Little Pony metaphors, Leila became cooperate and willing to code. So, as I set beside her the rest of that week teaching her about “if” statements, “for” loops, and methods through the adventures of Princess Celestia and her pals, I realized that this situation is reflective of the real world as well, because as humans we constantly seek to pursue our own interests, so when faced with a seemingly uninteresting task, we can become stubborn in our ways or find it difficult to adapt. However, when given the opportunity to incorporate our interests in some way, we are more willing to help and work hard. Furthermore, in the same way that I had to adapt my teaching in order to accomodate Leila and her interests, the real world is full of instances in which we need to stray away from the routines we are used to in order to surpass the obstacles that we face. After my experiences being Leila’s teacher, I learned the true power of adaptability as it applies to the workforce and the people we may be surrounded by in our current or future jobs. Though my summer job this year was full of spit and crazy children, I am grateful for its most difficult aspects, because they taught me an intangible lesson that I could not have learned anywhere else.

  7. “Wille, please move up, or I’ll call your parent! No Sky, put your phone away.” This is probably the nth-time I am about to lose my patience to a class of eighth-graders who I had thought could handle being cooperative and not just talk across the room after I moved them. I couldn’t even believe I was a class tutor for the SHSAT, or the Specialized High School Admission Test. This job felt more like teaching eight-year-olds how to behave. Just looking at other classes, students even younger than eighth-graders were just quiet and listened to their teachers. Though I enjoyed seeing their happiness in class and their ability to make new friends, I questioned whether I was getting the right job and whether it was worth it.

    This was the first class I tutored after I got into high school. Teaching them how to do algebra and geometry, getting them to read books, and simply giving them some information about high schools were elements of the lessons I would do with them. Instead of listening to me, they loved talking across the room, drawing, eating, and using their phones 24/7. It is not easy to teach and watch over a class of eighth-graders for six hours. You cannot use the methods used to teach eight-year-olds, such as watching “Peppa Pig,” nor can you teach them like high schoolers by being strict. Thinking back to the first day I saw these eighth graders, they seemed like the quietest students. That was the beginning of my nightmare: they would try to talk to someone no matter how far they are or how strict their teachers are. They could even fall asleep right in front of me. I discovered that the only way to get them to listen was through food and break time. Every hour, there would be a five-minute break for them to rest their bored and sleepy brains. Whenever I buy candies or snacks, they all turn into rewards for whoever was willing to answer the question correctly with explanations. They began to willingly listen in class and focus on their own work and complete their own homework on time with more accuracy.

    As a high school student, I can say that I understand the mentality of my students who were near my age. These students actually reminded me of when I was trying to prepare for the SHSAT, used for admission into New York City’s specialized high schools. My friends and I may have been just annoying as they were, but we learned a lot from our tutors about high school and college. The last time I contacted my co-workers, they told me how well the students had done on the SHSAT and how they were able to get into the high schools they wanted to go to. They should be proud of themselves for working hard during class time and willing to work with others to improve themselves. They remind me that success will come through hard work and a great amount of effort. Their confidence and happiness have inspired me and will push me to move forward. My experience teaching eighth-graders taught me the importance of adaptability in the workforce and communicating with people that might surround us in our life. Although working with the students often left me frustrated, they have taught me how to face my challenges with a positive attitude.

  8. In July of 2017, only four in ten teens were in the labor force, compared to about seven in ten in July of 1978. This drastic shift is due to the replacement of summer job opportunities with internships and volunteering experience. Teens now only search for activities that they’re convinced will help strengthen their resumes for college. It has become a social norm to participate in these prestigious internships, almost punishing high schoolers who choose to hold normal jobs in the summer to help out with family finances. However, many overlook that having a job will be an invaluable stepping stone for the future. Students who have employment experience early on learn money management skills as well as concepts such as gross and net pay, which are underrated and underappreciated benefits.
    The first step is to provide more exposure to the problem. The reason why not enough people are taking on summer jobs is that it has become the expected norm to participate in company or research internships, meaning many students never even consider summer employment as an option. This ends up targeting poor students who have to get summer jobs to help out with finances at home, such that they are almost “punished” or looked down on by different colleges for working instead of holding a prestigious internship. Students should get summer jobs because jobs are a stepping stone for the real world: they teach you how to get a job, pay taxes, and deposit a paycheck. These skills in financial literacy then help you learn how to make smart choices for your future.
    One way to fill in this gap is exposure. Guidance cCounselors or advisors can talk about potential benefits of a summer job. This provides exposure for the problem, gives students the choice to do a summer job. Summer jobs are the “first step” of teenagers to the “real world,” so they might be scared to try it at first. In order to make it easier for students to find jobs, guidance counselors should host job fairs or workshops on topics such as creating a LinkedIn profile, job-searching online, and doing job interviews, which can make “employment” less intimidating for high schoolers. These are few of the many ways to assist students with their searches. Schools can make it a part of their schedules and have students volunteer to be presenters during the fair. The fair should be open to all years, but it could be mandatory for the lower division to attend the fair. Summer jobs are a good substitute for internships on college applications because it provides the same benefits. That is because having a summer job will not mean you are “behind” other students. You can get recommendations and skills from your job through retail or service, while others gain them through internships or volunteering. Additionally, summer jobs are important to students because they help them develop financial literacy. Financial literacy is the ability to understand and effectively apply various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing. Individuals will then learn to become self-sufficient so that they can achieve financial stability. Students can use skills gained from summer jobs to help them succeed in the real world. The skills and experience they gain will help them decide their futures.

  9. I think a summer job is important. It will give me experience when I am looking for a permanent job. I do have a summer job.

    I find this article very interesting. I was shocked to see how more people worked back in the 1970s. I know my parents always worked in high school. However, I don’t have any friends who have jobs during the school year. It is really hard to have a job and participate in school sports. These activities are after school almost everyday. I am personally looking forward to working this summer.

  10. I recently started a summer job instructing beginner piano students and I have to say that it is an extremely value experience. With my job, I’ve been able to develop instruction, leadership, and communication skills and have really fostered my ability to connect with younger students. Another great aspect is gaining financial literacy. With my monthly paycheck, I have started to keep a monthly account of all my spendings and savings. I believe this is a crucial skill to prepare me for future employment and financial skills. The skills I have learned from my summer job are extremely value to apply to the future real world.

  11. I am starting to get a summer job, I feel as this may be beneficial because I will be allowed to earn money over the summer while having a balance schedule to also have fun.
    It allows me to gain experience throughout the job too, it can ready be for future jobs and positions.

  12. I do not have a summer job. In my opinion I think that it is a valuable experience because you get to learn how to communicate, make money, how working feels like, more experience, and this can help you in a future job. I feel that teens who work are trying to get the experience and money for their future. This is gonna help them prepare for college and other opportunities and for those who are not working yet, they are missing some part but at some point they’re going to gain the experience.

  13. I have worked a summer job and honestly it was valuable experience because it gave me other insights of the outside world. It also not only gave me experience, but also preparation for later times. No teens having a job to bolster their college applications are not missing out. It’s good that they have a job because honestly they could instead be doing things illegally to get money and also it gives them a point of view of what people have to go through that are financially struggling.

  14. I’ve been working since summer first the first time this year. I think is a great experience to understand every aspect of the experience I’m currently taking. This helps me understand my payroll, the what is being deducted and why. This is a great push for the future. This teaches me many valuable things I will be using in the near future,

  15. I have never had a summer job in the past. I have had jobs after school but never during the summer. I did apply for some but I didn’t get accepted by any of them. I think working during the summer can be a great experience for students. It can help them get an understanding of the value of money and hard work.

  16. I have just recently started my first summer job in August. I think that this is a valuable experience because it is taught me overtime the importance of communication. Nothing will be understood if it isn’t communicated.

  17. yes, i work in the summer and the experience are great because your learn new things, and yes i recommended.

  18. I have never work in my life But I will love to work, I have a cousin who do internships and they are great. I would love to do this and earn credits.

  19. Yes I do work a summer job and it is great. It is a valuable experience that I believe all young kids should have for their future career.

  20. Even I though have a summer job, I would like one because 1. It builds character and 2. It leaves you with a sense of accomplishment!

  21. I believe that you get the same experince and character building with many interships as you would with a summer job. Because many people have more time in the summer it can be better to do an intership because you can do a lower scare job year round like a cashier

  22. I have worked a Summer job before this school year and I think it was helpful. Not only was it good financially but it helped me understand the adult life style like waking up early to get to work, working with others even people that are more mature and experienced then you and learning to save.

    I don’t feel the teens that are doing things to bolster their college applications are missing out, they will have their own jobs in the future (considering they get hired, even with no experience) the only difference is they won’t have the practice of the workforce experience to help them. But having a summer job and working on college applications are both important.

  23. I think working a summer job can be a valuable experience because it teaches financial literacy and responsibility. Furthermore, it helps build interpersonal skills because oftentimes you are working with co-workers and communicating with managers.

  24. I have never worked a summer job before, but intend on doing so in the coming up one. From second hand accounts, having a summer job is very important and can develop skills you will use in your personal and academic life later on. I am considering a janitorial position in a court house to which I will have a good view of what goes on. I am excited to apply myself to this as a profession I likely want to be is in the field of Law once graduated from college.

  25. For majority of the summer of 2023, I’ve worked as a receptionist at an ENT clinic in Upper Eastside Manhattan. Till the present day, I think about my experiences as it introduced me how important it is to be responsible, organized, and have good communication with coworkers and patients at such a young age that will later prepare me for higher leveled jobs.

    As a teenager, many prepare for college by doing services that they can use on their applications. Regardless of having money or not, a job is not one of their main focuses until their junior or senior year of highschool as they will most likely have things figured out for their application to college, in which a job can be used as a plus. However, when thinking about their career, summer jobs offer a great amount of experiences in which they can obtain skills needed for their future to be successful. Therefore, summer jobs are a way where students are able to complete their services for their application during the school year while also gaining workforce experience for their career during the summer.

  26. I didn’t have a summer job or a job in general but im planning on starting a job soon to save a lot of money and invest it.

  27. Yes I have a summer job. I think a summer job is a very valuable experience because it teaches you how to be responsible and also keep you busy when theirs no school.

  28. I believe that holding a summer job can offer valuable lessons in financial management and accountability. Additionally, it fosters the development of interpersonal skills through interactions with colleagues and supervisors.

  29. The importance of a job as a teenager is really important as it has you slowly introduce yourself into the “real” world and gives you an idea on how to save and how to calculate your taxes no matter how little. I myself have had a consistent summer job since the summer of sophomore year and I have learned how to become more social and has really got me out there, and thanks to that job and working on my communication skills I have joined clubs, made a friend group, and I’m currently now thriving with my life. Yet it’s really hard to manage my homework, clubs, and job at the same time but I manage to pull through for the things I love.

  30. The importance of a job as a teenager is really important as it has you slowly introduce yourself into the “real” world and gives you an idea on how to save and how to calculate your taxes no matter how little. I myself have had a consistent summer job since the summer of sophomore year and I have learned how to become more social and has really got me out there, and thanks to that job and working on my communication skills I have joined clubs, made a friend group, and I’m currently now thriving with my life. Yet it’s really hard to manage my homework, clubs, and job at the same time but I manage to pull through for the things I love, and believe that if I can do it other teenagers can as well.

  31. Speaking from no experience I would say a summer job is an extremely valuable experience. And I feel that students that not working because they are getting more things to put on their applications are missing out on a couple of things based on what they are doing. One thing would be the money which is something they could save and invest with but if they do they have money already I would say that yes they are still missing out. Things such as social skills working with people and for the people can build character and skills such as patience, understanding and team/people skills. Not only that but there is the understanding of how money and jobs work, you may learn what taxes on your check are like what workers insurance is and among other stuff but if the student is doing things outside of a job and still leaning these skills and increasing what they could put on their applications only then would I say they are not missing out.

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