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OWENS: Summer jobs promote good work ethic

What was your first summer job? Most people have a good story about their entryway into the workforce.

Mine was pretty typical. I worked at McDonalds, flipping burgers.

But, I also grew up in a time when summer jobs were more readily available. Today’s youth find it more difficult to find a part-time job, post-recession.

That’s why the City of Savannah programs like Summer 500 and the Pre-Apprentice Program are so beneficial.

The Summer 500 program aligns high school students with a structured, paid internship. These students are learning about a job that most often isn’t entry-level or part time. They’re also attending school once a week to work on soft skills needed to be a more effective worker, and therefore a more valuable worker.

The Pre-Apprentice Program is aimed more toward the at-risk youth. These kids are getting an opportunity that would may otherwise not be afforded to them.

Both programs are doing a lot for our youth, and it is due in large part to the employers who are welcoming the teens.

Many of those employers are from the tourism sector, and when I talk to them about their experience, they have found that hiring a part-time teens has both pros and cons.

Working with an inexperienced teen takes time and training. The investment you make in that temporary employee goes away after the teen is gone.

On the other hand, the teen brings a fresh perspective on the way things are done. These employers also realize that making a significant investment in our next generation helps all of us.

Turns out, from the teen’s perspective, that summer job has pros and cons as well.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development conducted the Youth Development Study over a period of more than 20 years to see the opportunity and costs of having a job when you were a kid.

Researchers asked, “Is working good for teenagers?” They discovered, yes and no.

Yes, working teens find it good to work because they learn responsibility, develop time management skills, overcome shyness working with adults and find financial freedom and better money management. Overall, teens feel more like an adult when they work.

And, no, some working teens focus too much on work and forego education and extracurricular activities. These kids are more likely to engage in risky behavior because they have more money to spend. They may also get stressed at work, and this can negatively affect their self-worth.

Ultimately, researchers determined that working when you’re a teen can be good, especially when the work is moderately intense and maintains a steady timeframe. It also has to be in balance with other parts of a teen’s life—time at school, at home, and at work.

In the end, for almost everyone, success is dependent on opportunity, the individual and their motivation.

We as parents can help our kids be motivated to work hard, make good choices, and have a good balance in life.

We, as a community, can continue to invest in our youth by offering jobs and training.

Success for our teens is a combination of hard work, intelligence and opportunity. These city community programs are giving the student an opportunity, and we hope that they’ll use their intelligence to work hard.

 

Michael Owens is president/CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council, the largest non-profit trade organization that supports and represents the tourism community. Contact Owens at michael@tourismleadershipcouncil.com or by calling 912-232-1223.

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