According to classic teen TV shows, getting a summer job is just as much an integral part of the high school experience as getting your driver's license or going to prom. But is getting a summer job really all it's cracked up to be?
Pro: Gaining Job Experience
Having previous job experience, even if it was only at a fast food joint, can make getting a better job easier down the road. After working for even just one summer, you have more credibility as a future employee. You might be thinking, "will any company give me a job with no prior experience?" Well, places like theme parks, fast food restaurants, and certain stores expect to have extra help from teens in the summer, and are usually more than willing to give you your first job.
Con: Being A Little Fish In A Big Pond
During the summer there are hundreds of teens looking for summer jobs and the competition can be brutal. Often, if you don't have some kind of edge, getting the job you want can be difficult. This is often why, when it comes time for teens to get their first job, knowing someone or having a unique skill can be helpful in getting the job. When you go to apply for a job, try to think of what skills and personality traits make you stand out from other applicants. Use your uniqueness to your advantage.
Pro: Making Your Own Money
It's a great feeling to get your first paycheck. Having your own money to spend and save is a huge step forward in being independent. Depending on how much you make, you can actually start saving for your future. Even if you are only making minimum wage, you can still do something like setting aside $10 from every paycheck for the future.
Con: Lower Wages
Most summer jobs only pay minimum wage, so you have to keep that in mind. Make sure to be careful with the money you do make, especially with the cost of everything going up daily. This means more budgeting for not only fun stuff, but also the gas to get there. Once you are hired and know about how much you will be making, set a budget for yourself. Remember to include necessary expenses, spending money, and savings.
Pro: Learning Valuable Skills
Even if you just flip burgers for a couple hours a week, you are learning important skills as well as developing a good work ethic. Summer jobs are a great way to get your feet wet in the world of work, plus it gives you something to put on your resume.
Con: Lack Of Options
When it comes to finding a summer job, there often isn't much of a variety regarding the types of jobs that are available. This is usually due to the fact that the places that hire summer employees have to offset costs, so only places that know they will make more money in the summer will hire extra, short-term help.
(If you want to learn more about what job options are available to teens, you can read this article.)
Pro: Making Friends At Work
It's always good to be friendly with your coworkers, but it is even better if you actually start to become friends with them. This will make work a little more fun, plus it's nice to enjoy spending time with your coworkers. You don't even have to be good friends, but it's always great to work with people you get along with. If you get along well enough, you may even continue to hang out after the summer's over!
Con: Workplace Drama
No matter where you work, there will always be some kind of drama going on. Sometimes, people just come in and make things difficult for their coworkers. Other times, work is just plain stressful. There will be days where you come home and cry because work was frustrating. Furthermore, if customers are having a bad day, they may take it out on you or your coworkers.
Often, you will have to step back for a moment or two and just take a breath. Other times, you will need to go into full self-care mode when you get home. (Think bubble bath with relaxing music playing in the background.)
Pro: More Money To Do Fun Stuff
Being able to afford to do more summer activities is one of the best things about getting a job. It opens up so many more doors for fun activities. While lots of summer pastimes are free or relatively cheap, others, like taking a road trip with friends, are significantly more expensive.
Con: Less Time To Do Fun Stuff
Because you have a job, much of your life will revolve around when you work. This means that fun stuff will have to take a backseat. Depending on the hours you work, you may only get to participate in a few activities and miss out on the rest.
Pro: Short Term Commitment
Getting a job only to find out that you hate it for whatever reason, is the worst. Thankfully, summer jobs only last for a few months. Depending on how bad things are and how close it is to the end of the summer, you can either look for another job or try to stick it out.
Be careful though, looking for another in the middle of the summer can be tricky. Also, leaving a job after a short time can look bad to future employers.
Con: Short Term Commitment
On the flip side, if you love your job, saying good bye to it can be hard. Some jobs just have a 'wow' factor that makes them really hard to say goodbye to. Whether it's because you love your work or the people there, leaving is not always fun.
Try to stay in contact with your coworkers. If you decide to get another job later on down the road, try to pick something in the same field. It won't be exactly the same, but it might be even better.
Should You Get A Summer Job?
The decision to get a summer job is a pretty big one. Ultimately, it comes down to a few simple questions.
- Do you have enough time in your summer schedule for a job?
- Are there any good summer jobs available in your area?
- Do you meet the qualifications for the job or jobs in question?
- Are you willing to go to work and do everything to the best of your ability?
Getting a job, even for a few months, is a huge decision and responsibility. It can also be incredibly rewarding. You might even find inspiration for your future career. Good luck!