Pros and Cons of a Summer Job for Your Teenager

In 2014 the Bureau Labor Statistics found that 2.1 million people, ranging from the ages of 16 to 24, obtained summer employment. Popular summer jobs include retail, service, internships, nannying, entertainment industry jobs, and camp counselor.

Working during the summer introduces teens to the adult world. The hours can be long, and they may be forced to work with individuals they do not like. However, there are skills they can glean through summer employment. Parents must help teens choose between summer employment, summer school, and other pursuits available during the summer months. Before deciding whether your teen should find a summer job, consider the pros and cons of employment.

Pros of Summer Employment

Earn Money

The most obvious upside is the ability to earn and spend money as they choose. They will have more freedom to make financial decisions, deciding what to buy and how much to save. The income work provides typically is the biggest motivator for summer employment.

Learn Money Management Skills

With the help of parents, teenagers can learn the basics of establishing a budget and saving money for things they want. One way to increase their financial responsibility is to give them a small financial obligation to help them prioritize spending. Parents might have the child pay the insurance on their vehicle or take responsibility for their phone bill. Requiring them to save or donate a certain percentage of earnings will also help them develop money management skills. A job provides an excellent background to discuss and practice budgeting, saving, and other valuable financial habits needed in adulthood. The real world experience with money can be the most valuable lessons they learn.

The other side of money management is allowing them to experience the natural consequences of poor financial decisions. If they fail to pay the phone bill, they will not have a phone to use. If they do not pay the insurance, they cannot drive. If they spend their entire paycheck on a shopping spree, they will not have any funds until the next paycheck arrives.

Allowing children to fail financially in small matters can prevent bigger financial failures that will have a more lasting impact.

Independence and Responsibility

A job increases both their level of independence and responsibility, which can increase their confidence. They will learn to budget their time and to follow a schedule dictated by their employer. Successful employment requires following directions, solving problems, and accepting responsibility for mistakes.

Respect for Work

When a teen works for what they buy, there is a sense of ownership and accomplishment that creates a desire to do their best. Work is both difficult and rewarding. They may be on their feet all day, serving customers, while taking instruction from a boss. They will learn to show respect and how to receive praise. Employment also presents unpleasant experiences such as rude customers or disrespectful co-workers or bosses.

Learn the Job Application Process

The art of finding a job involves the application and interview process. Teenagers can learn how to prepare a resume and how to articulate their strengths and experience in a positive way. Learning these skills can help them present their best self when applying for higher paying jobs down the road.

Analyze Strengths and Weaknesses

Working with different jobs can increase self-awareness. Teenagers can learn what environments they thrive in and where they get bored quickly. Summer employment gives teens the opportunity to try out different types of work, which can narrow down their career choices by the time they reach college.

Employment Discounts

One of the perks of working are the discounts offered to employees. Working in a retail store can provide discounts on store purchases. Working for an entertainment company can provide free use of the establishment during non-working hours.

Increase Social Network

A work environment will expose teenagers to a different set of people. They might work with or serve people in different age groups, countries, and socioeconomic backgrounds, increasing their understanding of people with different perspectives. It is also possible to connect with mentors or others who can be influential in future job opportunities.

Cons of Summer Employment

Lack of Financial Discipline

Earning money does not automatically develop money management skills. Teens often spend money as fast as they earn it. Without guidance, they may not learn anything about how to budget, save or manage their money appropriately.

A Decline in Social Time

Teenagers are often busy beefing up their experiences for college applications, leaving them with little unstructured time. A job can cut further into their ability to be a child for a few more years. Working requires a time commitment that takes away from social activities and time with the family.

Natural Consequences of Actions

Parents often shield children from the consequences of their actions. Employment provides natural consequences to behavior. Teenagers who work hard and demonstrate responsible behavior could receive a raise or promotion. Those who call in sick, show up late, and do not complete tasks as instructed risk termination.

Unpleasant Job Options

Entry level positions are often unpleasant jobs others do not want. Work is not always fun, especially when you must complete tasks like scrubbing bathrooms, sweeping up garbage, or dealing with angry customers. Nearly every job includes assignments that create stress. Teenagers must learn to accept these unpleasant aspects of earning money.

A job may not allow them to sleep in late. A job might require a commute to work in heavy traffic or spending days working long hours on their feet. The reality of a job includes both the good and bad, preparing them for future employment.


Summer employment can prepare teenagers for the adult world. It allows them to gain money management skills and learn to deal with people. A summer job will also require sacrifices as they learn to balance their work schedule with other obligations.