While teenagers today are swamped with just about every extracurricular imaginable in order to stand out to colleges—sports, clubs, robotics, decathlons, student government, and the rest—there’s one after-school activity that seems to be taking a dip in popularity: getting a job. Many parents have valid reservations about why their teenager shouldn’t be working, like the argument that teenagers have their whole lives to work, or the stance that after school jobs are less valuable than other extracurricular activities. However, having an after-school part-time job is actually a great way to teach teenagers valuable skills, assuming they have the time. Here are four reasons why high school jobs are actually super valuable!
They Offer New Perspectives
Many teenagers truly have their eyes opened after working their first job. It gives them a break from their like-minded friends and classmates and gives them the opportunity to work with their community at large. Whether they have coworkers who are years older than them and come from different walks of life or if they have to consistently interact with customers with different points of view from their own, your teen will constantly be exposed to new worldviews that help them shape their own! This is great for forming well-rounded, empathetic teenagers who go on to become outstanding adults, which is something classes alone can’t teach.
Jobs Impart Discipline
Does your teenager always slack off on their chores? Do they have missing assignments and not spend the right amount of time studying for tests? Instead of sending them to some sort of teen boot camp, getting them job might be just the thing to whip them into shape! Having a job will teach your teen the importance of multitasking, budgeting time to complete tasks efficiently, and prioritizing responsibilities.
Having a job will also help your teen on how to balance their work, school, and social lives. This is something that’s crucial to practice early in life so it doesn’t become a problem later. With your teen busy juggling their friends, schoolwork, and their new job, they’ll learn how important it is to allot time for each! Down the road, this will ensure they have a solid work ethic while also recognizing the importance of not becoming a workaholic.
Jobs Create Leaders
Positive leadership is one of the most valuable traits a person can have. From the minute your teenager leaves high school, colleges will be searching for their transcripts and applications for evidence of your teen’s ability to step up and handle situations confidently. They want to admit students they feel will take the future into their own hands and work to make it better, and this sort of problem-solving, independent attitude is just what first jobs teach. In fact, on a college application, a relevant first job can be just as appealing to colleges as extracurricular activities like sports or student body organizations.
And the trend continues after college. All through life, it’s a great trait to be a confident leader, and having a job in high school will give your teenager the level of responsibility they need to feel good about their own abilities. Thus, first jobs not only act as a great confidence booster, but an important training period!
Jobs Open Doors
If your teen gets a job and is successful, it will mean they’re forming valuable professional relationships they can utilize down the road. It’ll give them a head start when they need somebody to write them a reference letter, and having a job to come home to in the summers between college is a great way to start saving for the future! Also, many of your teen’s coworkers may turn out to be valuable network connections down the road. If your teen makes a positive impression at their first job and demonstrates they understand the value of hard work, it’s likely they’ll be called on for more lucrative opportunities in the future. While your teen’s first job likely won’t be where they end up in the years to come, it’s still a great way to begin networking and getting reference letters.
Time to Clock In!
If your teen is already busy as an athlete, academic, or student body leader, chances are they don’t need a job to teach them the value of hard work, discipline, and leadership. But if you think your teen needs a kick in the right direction or could be doing more to fill their time, working with them to find a suitable job is a great idea! Not only will it be a valuable experience, but they might even make some new friends, and they’ll certainly begin making a little more money!
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.