Should Your Teenager Have a High School Job?

How important is a high school job?

high school jobs

There has always been an ongoing debate on whether high school kids should be working. On one side, many parents think that children should focus on their studies in high school in order to excel. On the other hand, it can be debated that high school jobs teach children responsibility at a critical time in their development.

We all remember that local job that we had to make minimum wage and try to pay for an occasional new pair of jeans, tickets to a movie (no Netflix back then), or grabbing appetizers with friends. I believe that making money and learning how to be responsible with it is important for teenagers. Those first few steps in to the workforce lead to tools adults can use in the workforce for the rest of their lives. It will also enforce to me the importance of having my children learn the importance of the dollar or “bitcoin.”

For me it was lifeguarding at a pool—with the options of babysitting, working retail, and being a camp counselor, I thought being outside in the sun and swimming would be perfect for a summer job. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would also have to clean bathrooms, serve ice cream and teach 4 year olds how to swim (as a current mom of a 4 year old—it can be daunting!)

READ MORE: Work Life Balance as an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Part 1

First, it taught me to appreciate all walks of careers and roles that people play in their job. I cleaned sinks, combed sand in a volleyball court, emptied trash and saved children drowning in the pool—each task had its importance. I learned to treat everyone equally and respectfully then and do the same now.

Secondly, it taught me to be aware and ready to act calmly and expeditiously at a moment’s notice. I went from a pool lifeguard to an ocean lifeguard in Ocean City, MD (also known as S.R.T. or “Surf Rescue Technician”).   When you see that over-confident 8 year-old floating out in a riptide about to wave their hands—you know to jump quickly off your 6-foot stand and sprint then swim into the water. You cannot panic, but act on how you have been trained. The same goes for evaluating trauma patients coming into the Emergency Room and starting chest compressions or setting a broken bone.

Finally, I learned the importance of money management. Working hard to earn money to pay for dinner and concert tickets taught me the benefits of budgeting and the importance of saving.

So, maybe your high school job did not even close to resemble what you are doing now, but you learned responsibility, respect, accountability, and teamwork. Those are definitely important lessons, and it is never too early to start teaching them your children.

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