Summer jobs and internships can certainly round out a student’s college or graduate school application, but most importantly, they can prepare teens for college and careers. Whether the job is waiting tables, working as a camp counselor, scooping ice cream, interning on Wall Street or fetching coffee for the editor of a famous magazine, teens can gain untold benefits from working.
They will learn to show up for work on time and develop workplace skills and a good work ethic. They will learn the art of customer service and how to handle feedback—which can be tough for kids whose parents constantly tell them they are the best. They will learn how to be a team player.
They may receive a paycheck and learn how long it takes to work to pay for something they need or want. They may have the satisfaction of having earned enough money to pay for their auto insurance or their spending money for the year. They may learn that they are not interested in what they thought they wanted to do; they may discover something they thought they had no interest in. This type of discovery will help with the college search. For example, if your teen went into the summer thinking that they HAD to attend a college with a very strong journalism, film, or business department, and then decides that he/she may not want to pursue that career choice, the list of schools being considered may broaden.
Whatever they do, whether it is working for a moving company or working as an assistant to an assistant on a movie set, teens will have a lot of new experiences, and much to write about. Summer experiences are more than a line on a college application. They are a great source of inspiration for essays and an opportunity to reveal more about themselves to admissions officers. Students who have grown or benefitted from their summer jobs can express that in an essay and connect it to their goals and other experiences. Admissions officers are not looking for a specific summer experience. They are looking for students who have a “can do” attitude, who do not have a sense of entitlement, who are mature enough to roll up their sleeves, and do what needs to be done.
To get the most out of their summer job or internship, teens should put some thought and planning into their job search. There is no one right decision. In a recent parenting blog in The New York Times, Dan Fleshler discussed his college-age daughter’s decision to return to summer camp as a counselor, rather than seeking a summer internship. His daughter defended her decision based on the fact that she felt she was personally gaining more life skills and doing more good by working as a camp counselor, by spending her “days and nights nurturing, teaching, organizing, comforting and inspiring.” Who could argue with that?
Once a summer job is secured, a teen should give it their all. Stick with it and do the best job possible. Develop the right attitude towards work. Write about the experiences and the lessons learned. Even if it is not the topic of an essay, teens will discover their own strengths and weaknesses. Teens can make the most out of ANY summer job or experience.
Jill Tipograph is a nationally recognized youth and summer expert and the founder of Everything Summer, LLC, the “go to” expert leader in personally guiding families worldwide through the summer planning process. Everything Summer aligns their clients’ interests, extracurricular activities and summer plans, helping to give students a pre-college edge.
Like this blog post? Sign up for the TeenLife Newsletter!