The Summer Job

The following blog is a cross-post from the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP) and appeared in the August, 2016 issue of “Workforce Buzz”. The blog is written by Colin Williams, an NYATEP Summer Intern.

Each summer NYATEP hires at least one “summer youth” intern, this year we have brought back Colin Williams who recently graduated from Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, and is headed to college this fall in Rhode Island. We think a critical aspect of summer youth work is having our interns contribute directly to the work products of the office, therefore we asked Colin to compose two articles for upcoming issues of the Workforce Buzz, that reflect his unique opinion and point of view as a young adult. Below is his first article on what a summer job is like for a youth.

At the ripe age of seventeen all you really need is a car and a full tank of gas. For teenagers, these two individual images represent a freedom that has been limited since the time of birth. The exciting feeling of being able to go wherever you want to go is now in your grasps and the ability to do whatever you want to do (for the most part) can be achieved. Unfortunately, these symbols of teenage liberation cannot be produced without the presence of green slips of paper that fit perfectly into a traditional wallet. Enter: The Summer Job.

Summer work has always been considered one of the largest elephants in the room around the dinner table during the months of April and May. We know we have to tackle the daunting tasks of filling out applications and creating resumes. In my opinion, at the core of what makes it daunting is not in the actual application; instead the fear of rejection. Generally, as Millennials were raised in a society where everyone receives a trophy, the concept of losing is foreign to us. Now when there is an opportunity where we might lose (i.e. not get the job), we become scared, and without the right support it might just mean we do nothing at all, paralyzed.

Once we move past the stage of fear we enter the stage of waiting. This means that all of our applications are in and we are waiting for the call or email back. The sad truth of this matter is that often these calls never come. The even more depressing truth is that down the road, these calls will come even less. Pressures like the minimum wage, automation, and older people taking part-time work in retirement or just to make ends meet, mean looking for work in the summer is a lot different than when our parents had to do it. Congratulations, you got the job. What’s next? Well, for starters you will be getting up early in the morning and getting home late at night. After all, you want to make money, right? Wrong. Your paycheck will not be as large as you thought it would be after taxes are taken out. That’s alright; you will have a chance to meet new people including that very loud woman who is yelling at you for not bagging her groceries fast enough. Sometimes summer jobs are not always what we expect. In fact, summer jobs tend to be less about the money and more about the learning experience. You will learn dependability. You will learn that not everything is handed to you on a silver platter. Most importantly, you will learn basic people skills. All of these learned forms of human capital will outweigh the short term physical capital in the long run.

After all was said and done, you finally bought that car and filled it up with unleaded juice. You can do anything now. You have confidence because you conquered your fear, you are happy because you beat out all of those other applicants, and you are smarter now that you learned a few life lessons. The only question now is, where should you go?

Check out some related resources from NCWD/Youth that can help youth make a successful transition to summer employment!

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