Four reasons to force your kids to work this summer

Today, more teenagers are employed than they have been in over a decade. From May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment rates for 16 to 19 year olds are among the lowest in 68 years. This is good news for anyone envisioning the next generation of leaders – and for our economy.

Many self-made professionals attribute their long-term success, in part, to “starting at the bottom” with a low-paying job. Having learned, first-hand, the respectability and value found in every type and level of work, they attribute their acquired leadership characteristics and appreciation of individual contributions to an organization to their journey – from broom closet to suite c .

Affluent parents may not be as likely to recommend or suggest summer work for their children. It may be because they have worked hard to give their children a life different from their own, or because they want their children focus more on their schoolwork. Or maybe they focus more on competitive sports with off-season training, clinics, and travel teams. Whatever the reason, it’s important to be careful not to raise adults who have been harbored in ignorance – highly educated, but ill-equipped to hold a job, support themselves, and communicate with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. , ethnic and socio-economic.

The dividends of time management and courage are almost obvious when learning to juggle the demands of work and school. We place great importance on getting a higher education, and rightly so. Yet the experiences found in summer jobs are great teachers and leadership labs — without the four-year commitment. Here are four reasons why “rental education” should be a must for your kids this summer.

1. Summer Jobs: Creating Empathetic Leaders

Far too often, the people who empty the trash cans, mow the lawns, clean the toilets and do the dishes are invisible to the entire organization. Yet it is the team members who facilitate organizational effectiveness, large and small, and deserve to be seen and appreciated for their contributions. Despite the plethora of entry-level positions available in today’s hot job market, many teenagers are not interested – or refuse – to work at minimum wage. Empathetic leaders, however, recognize and understand the importance of every member of an organization.

Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of TIAA, a Fortune 100 company, often speaks about the importance of connecting with employees at all levels of an organization, exemplified in a story she shared with New York Times in 2019. After being named CEO of Chase Auto Finance at JP Morgan, she made a point of meeting with mailroom workers where she publicly explained their critical role in the organization.

2. Summer jobs: give lessons on how to see and talk with everyone

In the increasingly divided world we live in, knowing how to work with people from different backgrounds and lived experiences is invaluable. The young umpire, paid $25 to call a Little League game for 10-year-olds, is potentially getting a masterclass in diplomacy, de-escalation strategies and conflict resolution. Taking a verbal beating from an adult coach over something so unimportant will create a future manager or CEO who understands the value of respect and prioritizes what really matters within an organization.

3. Summer jobs: give context to real-world issues

Leadership qualities are not best acquired through reading or lectures, but through practical experiences. Rudimentary and experiential knowledge and awareness of a subject ground ideas based on reality versus theory. The day-to-day interaction of an entry-level role serves as the cornerstone of the confidence teens so desperately need to be comfortable functioning in the workforce. The time away from their digital world and social media gives them a sense of independence and accomplishment – ​​while strengthening their savings accounts.

In the longer term, the teenager who packs groceries or fills orders online has a broader understanding of a multi-step, consumer-driven process. This insight can inspire and influence future product design, workplace culture, various sourcing initiatives, and supply chain management.

At 14, CEO of Slack Stewart Butterfield summer job at the concession of a small cinema. “People were queuing outside waiting for the previous show to end, and once inside we had crushes on rushing customers. The inefficiency was too much for me to take. I started going out with a tray and a napkin, French style, to take people’s orders ahead of time. Happier customers, less rushed for us and, as a bonus, I even earned a few small tips.

4. Summer jobs: providing missed growth opportunities during the pandemic

The coronavirus has been hard on children in so many ways – especially teenagers. For the past two years, teenagers have been isolated at home and not doing what they need to do to become independent. The pandemic has thwarted the most important parts of adolescent development. Part of what helps young people grow is being exposed to a wide range of experiences.

Following pandemic-induced shutdowns, closures and online schooling, teens are eager to return to the normality of summer employment. Many business owners recovering from COVID are rediscovering the potential of hiring young people like older workers are slow to return customer service jobs. There is endless earning (and experience) potential for teens in the retail, hospitality, restaurant and tourism industries.

Whether it’s responding to a difficult boss or dealing with difficult customers, these early work experiences help teens learn new skills – and self-confidence. Employment allows young people to evolve different parts of themselves that are not tested at home, in school or in sports. They will rise to the challenge, and it is these challenges that allow teenagers to grow: make them work for it.

About Donnie R. Losey

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