Now more than ever, teenagers should be actively seeking employment. If they are already employed, there may be time for yet a second job. There are, of course, exceptions to the prior statements. Some teenagers are so busy with school and sports that they just can’t find time to work. However, with the ever-rising costs of college, and the ever-rising reasons to attend college, perhaps priorities may need to be rearranged.
Money for College
Right off the bat, there is the most obvious benefit for teens with a job. They may save up their money to help pay for college. The average total cost of one year at an in-state public university is just about $20,000. Unless the science whiz and basketball star are in the running for substantial scholarships, now may be a good time to consider finding a job.
Money to Invest
If the student has taken a course in economics, or if he has grown up around investment, perhaps he will be interested in the investment of his money. More and more experts are advising teens and young adults to start investing now. It is possible that with the smart investing of a couple hundred dollars now, a teen may see returns of hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road. There are endless resources, both in print and online, that can be accessed in order to learn more about investing.
Learning the Value of a Dollar
Too often teenagers will throw $10 on a hamburger or $100 on a pair of jeans, and too often, it is their parents who are paying for it. When teenagers have no work experience, they have no real idea on what it takes to earn money. Their perception of the work a dollar represents is normally less than it really is, and so they go on throughout their young years thinking “Oh, $50 for a designer t-shirt? Sure! It won’t take mom more than about 10 minutes to regain that!” Well, that may be right… if your mom is also driving a Porsche!
Though parents may disclose what they make per year, teenagers may not consider all the necessary taxes and expenses that turn that fat check into pocket change. With a job, teenagers will start to see how taxes affect income, and may also discover other “hidden costs” of the world that they had not known of before.
Learning to Interact with Adults, Co-Workers, and the ‘Real World’
High school life is so much different than life in the “real world.” I can personally speak for this one. When I leave school every day to go to work, its like crossing between dimensions. School is loaded with drowning supervision, condescension, drama, and apathy (even on a good day), and when I arrive at work, I enter an environment of professionalism and business.
I know that if the adults at work act like many of my peers at school, they’ll lose their job. At my workplace, I’m given responsibility. I’m left unsupervised on an airfield. Everywhere I look, there are multi-million dollar machines that literally could kill me. No one is holding my hand here; I am expected to respect the equipment and the dangers it presents. This kind of experience gives me a taste of what life outside of school is like.
Teenagers will also learn to deal with conflicts that arise between employers and other employees. At school, there is no requirement to spend time with people that you don’t want to spend time with. At work, it may be necessary to spend many hours working in close proximity to someone that annoys the heck out of you.
That is how life is, and the sooner teenagers learn this, the better. Perhaps an only child named “daddy’s little princess” gets a job. At work, she’s no one’s princess; she is an employee who rests on the same ground as all the other employees. She may not get everything her way like at home. She may have to scrub dishes or bathrooms, two things she has never had to do in her life. As much as she hates it, this will make her a better worker and will increase her chances of success.
Finding a job may be the most difficult part. Teenagers will learn that they might have to drop off 30-40 resumes before they get a call. This will teach them that in the real world, one must persist to succeed.
When a teenager lucks out, he or she may land a job somewhere that may be related to a profession that he or she is interested in. When this happens, doors can be opened. If smart enough, that employee may pick up invaluable advice, knowledge, and even sometimes special benefits that may only be obtained through working there. If employees work well, bosses will remember them. When they graduate college, they may be able to return and work for these bosses in much higher positions. If not, they may ask their ex-boss to write a letter of recommendation. This may take that ex-employee far.
This is another example where I may draw in my own story. I work at an airport and thus far, here are a few things I have learned and a few experiences that I would not have gone through had I not been employed here:
- I was given a free ride in a private jet.
- I now know many pilots from am entry-level cargo airline that may be able to write me a recommendation in a few years, almost guaranteeing me of a job at that airline (they quoted “recommendations are everything here”).
- I have experience at an airport and will now be much more competitive when searching for jobs at other airports.
- I have learned so many things about aviation from all the professionals I am surrounded by. I go to work and I find that almost any question I have about flying or aviation may be answered by professionals that are a 10 steps away.
Learning to Balance
One of the most important benefits a teenager will gain from is the fact that he will have to learn to balance school, work, and any other activities. He may have to give up weekends to work, and will often come home at ten at night with two hours of homework left to complete. At first this will be rough, but after some time, he will get used to it. In some cases, a teenager may be able to hold two jobs – even during the school year. A teenager with a job and high-level classes will be even more challenged, but in the end, he will be even better for it because he was able to maintain good grades and hold a job. To do so, he will have had to have made sacrifices that he might have to make later on in life.