Teens and Summer Employment

teenjobinterview2For many, Memorial Day is the start of summer, and many teens are not sure what they would like to do over this long break. One option would be a summer job.

While employment numbers have been low for the past few years, the economy is showing improvement. CBS News just recently reported that employment for teens, between the ages of 16 and 19, is currently at its highest level since 2009. And, a recent survey of 1,000 employers shows that 78% expect to hire the same number of hourly summer employees, or more, compared to last year, and that hourly wages are increasing. This is all good news for teens who would like to seek employment this summer.

Decline in Past Summer Employment for Teens

The number of teens working over the summer has declined since the late 1970s. In 1978, nearly 3 out of 4 teens had a job, but as of last year, only about 4 out of 10 teens were working. Some people believe this is due to the poor economy, while others believe this generation of teens is lazy.

“It is not that young people have gotten progressively lazier. In fact, it is quite the opposite,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “They are spending more time on homework, extracurricular activities, and summer educational and personal development programs. All of these factors take away from time that used to be spent in a traditional job.”

Indeed, a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that an estimated 11.4 million teens between the ages of 16 and 19 didn’t work in 2013. And of those who weren’t working, only 8.3% said they actually wanted a job. Many of these teens are engaging in other extracurricular activities.

There are many positive summer activities for teens to do besides work. For example, activities that would keep your teen out of trouble while still gaining experience to place on their resume are: internships, community service, academic enrichment programs, summer camps, and language immersion programs. You can read more about these options in our previous blog, “What Should Your Teen Do This Summer?

For those teens who were seeking employment, the poor economy has definitely had an impact on their ability to find a job in recent years. They discovered that many unemployed adults were being hired for traditionally teen jobs, such as grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and movie theaters. The new statistics of increasing job opportunities are promising for teens this summer.

Benefits of Teens Looking for a Job

If your teen was searching for a job in the past and was unsuccessful, they may feel it isn’t worth their effort to search again, but that is far from the truth. Encourage your teen to look for a job because: (1) there is more of a chance that he/she will find one this year, due to increasing opportunities, and (2) even if they don’t find one, they will likely gain some important skills from the process. For example, the job search process will help your teen develop skills in applying for work, writing a resume, and interviewing, all of which are vital skills your teen will need throughout their lifetime. Additionally, the process helps teens improve their ability to cope with rejection. The more we face rejection and learn to deal with those feelings, the more resilient we become.

Benefits of Teens Holding a Part-Time Job

There are many benefits to teenagers obtaining employment, including:

  • Obtain valuable work experiences, which are excellent for a resume.
  • Increase self-confidence. Learning new skills is a great way for teens to identify their strengths. Teens who struggle in school may excel in the workplace, which can bolster their confidence as well.
  • Learn how to effectively manage finances. Even if the teen is simply using their earnings to pay for their own expenses, they will learn to budget between wants and needs, such as clothes, movies, and car expenses.
  • Develop insight into a possible career path. If a teen discovers that he has talent and skills that align with a particular line of work, he may choose to pursue a related career path. For other teens, a first job may help them identify exactly what they don’t want to do.
  • Use free time constructively. A job occupies a teen’s free time leaving them less time to engage in risky behaviors.
  • Develop social skills. Working with customers and fulfilling their needs, taking direction from managers, and leading other employees offers a chance for teens to gain more opportunities to socialize with people outside of their immediate friends.
  • Learn time management skills.
  • Form good work habits.
  • Gain useful, marketable skills such as improving their communication, learning how to handle people, developing interview skills and filling out job applications.
  • Instill sense of responsibility and independence. Employers expect teens to arrive on time, behave professionally, and make healthy choices. Sometimes teens who struggle to behave responsibly in other areas of their lives are motivated to behave responsibly once they have jobs.


Final Thoughts…

Connecting your teen with the right summer activity can help him or her become more responsible and independent, develop positive skills, explore interests, and increase self-esteem. If you believe that a part-time job this summer would be a good idea for your child, then you should help your teen find employment, volunteer opportunities, or internships in an area of interest to your child. If your teen wants to be a teacher, maybe a camp counselor would be up their alley. If they want to work with animals, volunteering at the local SPCA would be a great experience. If your teen wants to excel in the world of business, they could intern at a local company. These experiences will improve their resume, but more importantly will help them decide their future path in life.

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