Seven Reasons High School and College Students Need a Summer Job

As I continue to take steps on my increasingly depressing journey to 26 years of age, I’m consistently reminded of the importance of all the part-time jobs I worked in past. Particularly, I’m talking about the ones I worked during the summer months as a high school teenager and early-20s collegiate moron.

While summer is the absolute best time for lounging by the pool, enjoying public parks, hitting local bars, and playing a round of golf, it’s also the most opportune time for kids to work as lifeguards, city handymen, bartenders, and golf course refreshment cart drivers.

I worked as a lifeguard. It was a great, and often crazy, experience.

I worked as a lifeguard. It was a great, and often crazy, experience.

Below, find seven reasons why every kid should work a summer job.

Learn the value of a hard-earned dollar. I learned why my parents weren’t willing to give me globs of cash. Hint: It wasn’t because they didn’t want to. It’s because they worked hard each and every day, and wanted me to learn what it feels like to have to work for what you get. While I will always hope to win the lottery, I will never have any misconceptions about how hard most people work to make a decent living.

Balance social life and real life. Though we’re obsessed with TV characters that are prone to excess, balance is a good thing to have in real life. Working a job in the summer when the weather is absolutely perfect and you want to be somewhere else teaches you that you can’t always be in that perfect somewhere else. Sometimes you’ve got to earn it. Besides, working a crappy summer job makes your time with friends that much more valuable. And guess what? After college, that fun time with all your friends is fewer and further in between. Get used to it.

You need to learn how to network at a young age. That’s not to say that your fellow pool lifeguard will help you land your dream job at 16, but you never know will people will end up. Make sure to get phone numbers and email addresses.

Summer love. It’s a thing, people. Working a shitty summer job is a great way to bond with a love interest. You can talk about how crappy your pay is, how much your boss sucks, and lambast the way-too-old-to-be-working-at-a-beach dude that gets under your skin. A summer romance is also a great way to learn one of the toughest things in life, too. Sometimes, great things have to end. That includes love.

A little summer love in the film Adventureland.

A little summer love in the film Adventureland.

Dealing with assholes. I have worked a job where I took 70+ calls a day at an auto warranty financing company, as a lifeguard who dealt with dickhead parents, and as a city worker with grumpy old coworkers. Learning how to deal with assholes is valuable. You will have to do it the rest of your life. It’s good to learn that simple fact at a fairly early age. It’s important to learn how to keep your cool in professional situations. And don’t forget, you’re only ever a few hours away from beers on the beach with friends.

Perspective and respect. Let’s be honest, a crappy summer job will most likely not be something you want to do with the rest of your life. However, what may seem like a meaningless, fleeting gig to you might be someone’s livelihood. It’s important not to look down on someone for making a living. Remember, you’re only as good as you treat people. Respect people who get up and go to work everyday, even if you hate their job.

Some people make a living do this kind of thing. There's nothing wrong with it.

Some people make a living do this kind of thing. There’s nothing wrong with it.

Learn what you want to do. Sometimes, learning what you do not want to do is the best way to get you focused on what you want out of this short life. Once you experience what it’s like to work a 10-hour day at a shitty job, you’ll understand why some people risk it all to make careers out of their passions.

**

I’ve worked at summer jobs I’ve hated where I’ve met people I loved. I’ve fallen in love at a summer job. I fell out of love at a summer job. I learned how to work copy machines, conference lines, CPR, swimming, filling potholes, and so much more at summer jobs.

My summer jobs taught me humility, patience, and that what I really want to do is write for a living.

So print out your resume, put your sunblock on, and go pitch yourself and services to whoever is in charge of your local pool!

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