Summer Jobs Pay Off Down the Line

As summer sets in, teenagers across the country have either found a summer job or given up the search.

Many teens may face difficulties finding employment as adults take jobs traditionally held by teenagers such as those in retail and food service due to the difficult economy.

Those teens gaining experience as camp counselors or ice cream scoopers may have an advantage in the long run, though. A recent study from the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program revealed that searching for a job later in life can be much more difficult for those who did not work as teenagers.

The research also demonstrates that “those who work in high school have wages 10 to 15 percent higher when they graduate from college,” according to Ishwar Khatiwada, co-author of the study and associate director of research at Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies.

Since the early 2000s, the percentage of teenagers in the workforce has been declining. This is especially true for low-income and minority teenagers: only 17 percent of African-Americans aged 16 to 19 were employed in 2013.

Reduction of teens in the workforce may be attributed to the increasing number of students involved in other programs, such as unpaid internships, study abroad, athletic programs or summer school.

John Challenger, executive officer of the outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says that although these may be beneficial in building a resume, “A lot of kids are missing out by not learning what work is.” Students may be building their foreign language skills while travelling through Europe, but many may not be developing essential skills like job hunting or acing an interview.

Teens who are unable to find work may consider taking matters into their own hands and creating their own business. Many teens can do simple tasks, like car cleaning, dog walking or babysitting to generate their own income for the summer.

The Brookings Institute study also suggests that public policy needs to tackle the issue of high teenage unemployment. High school and community colleges should focus on programs where student can learn “technical, academic and employability skills,” says the study. It also recommends subsidized job programs to teach teenagers skills like interviewing and resume writing.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In Boston, the Boston Private Industry Council works in public high schools conducting mock interviews, providing job shadowing opportunities and helping with resumes throughout the academic year. They then place students in private sector jobs.

“We’re trying to educate employers about how valuable it is to hire teenagers,” says John Bruno, who works for the council developing relationships between the school and employers who will hire students in their program.

Although the process may be arduous and stressful, teens can gain a lot of opportunities down the line if they are willing to invest a little time or get creative in looking for that summer job.

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