In a world where many of today’s young people’s dream job is to be an Instagram influencer, it seems like long gone are the days when kids actually had to work for things. The value of money seems to be lost on much of the younger generations.
“My Parents Didn’t Hand Me Everything, and I’m a Better Person For That”
Megan Smith of Pennsylvania State University learned early on that if she wanted things, she had to work for them. This is not something she saw in many of her classmates.
In her article published on the Odyssey, she recalls being told by her parents that if she wanted money for gas she was going to have to get a part-time job and earn it herself. At just 16 years old, she was not happy.
“How was I supposed to juggle high school and a job? How was I supposed to keep a social life? How the heck was it fair that everyone else’s parents were paying for their gas but I had to work for mine?” (1)
Fair or not, she went and got herself a job. Now in college (and still working part-time!), she is incredibly grateful that her parents didn’t just hand her those things.
Why Having a Part-Time Job is Good For Highschool Students
Megan talks about feeling proud of herself for earning the things she had and having more gratitude for when someone else does lend her a hand. Most importantly, she says she learned early on that most of the time in life you just have to suck it up, show up, and put in the work.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons why teenagers and young adults should have part-time jobs beyond just having extra money to spend:
- Teaches financial independence
For most of us, we can’t always rely on someone else’s money for the life we want. Making kids have a part-time job helps them value money more and gives them some spending power. Knowing how many hours they had to work at a cash register or bussing tables will make them think twice when making a purchase.
- They learn how to budget
A teenager with an income has an incredible learning opportunity: Budgeting. Either with a parent or teacher, they can look at their monthly income vs. their regular expenses – phone bill, gas, etc. From there they can actually have a clear idea of how much money they have leftover to either spend or save. The earlier they master this skill, the better off their financial futures will be.
- Gain experience and connections
Imagine you are hiring an entry-level position for recent college graduates. You have two candidates to choose from with the same education level and credentials. The only difference? One has had at least one part-time job in the past, the other has never worked. Who do you think you will choose?
Though often overlooked by students, the skill that they learn and respect they gain for bosses, coworkers, and other people will go a long way in their eventual careers.
- A proper use of free time and time management
Teenagers with too much free time often run the risk of getting in with the wrong crowd. That, or they just become extremely lazy! Busier teens learn how to budget their time, and a part-time job is a productive place to be. Teens who work are less likely to procrastinate and get themselves into trouble.
- Learn how to job hunt
The inevitable job search is unavoidable for the majority of the population. Teens who work part-time jobs learn how to build a resume, fill out an application, and what to do in an interview. They learn these skills in a lower-stakes situation, so by the time they are applying to their first big position or their dream job, they’ve had plenty of practice at it.
- Learn about various industries
Throughout high school and university, students may work a variety of jobs: in kitchens, in food service, at a winery, at a bar, doing landscape work, babysitting, at an aquarium. During that time, they will learn about how those industries operate. For example, the student who works in a kitchen will learn to cook, see how orders are place, and learn about food safety regulations and standards. Someone who works at a winery will learn how wine is made and regulations on alcohol and licensing. A student who works at the local aquarium will learn about marine life and perhaps even decide to study that in university!
Part-Time Jobs Give Students More Than an Allowance Ever Could
You really never know where a part-time job might take you. You might learn you want to pursue a career as a chef, or you might learn that you never want to step foot in another restaurant kitchen ever again!
Regardless of the outcome, kids who have to work for their money and earn the things they want are far more prepared for the real world than those who have things given to them. Parents can still support their kids while forcing them to take financial responsibility for their own lives. Supporting your child can look like helping them with their resume, driving them to interviews and to and from work, or helping them create a budget sheet to track their expenses.
No matter how you choose to do it, giving your kids the gift of what they need, rather than what they want, will take them far in life.
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