Having a job teaches lessons that can’t be learned in a classroom

September 20, 2018 — by Sandhya Sundaram

How jobs affect students at SHS

Early this summer, I was at a gathering with my parents’ friends when I was asked about my plans for the summer. They probably expected to hear about a summer program at Stanford or an internship at Google, and their smiles turned into disappointment as I told them about my job as a boat attendant at Vasona Lake.

Although lower-wage jobs such as renting out boats, preparing drinks at Starbucks or making bagels at Noah’s Bagels may not be academically stimulating, maintaining a part-time job teaches students important life lessons regarding hard work, money management and personal interactions.

My job helped me understand the value of money. Although my time lifting heavy boats out to the lake and docking pedal boats in the sun was only in four-hour shifts, and not nearly as exhausting as other outdoor jobs, I learned that to make the amount of money that my parents would casually hand me to go to a movie and dinner, I would need to work for four hours. Many adults undergo physical labor in the sun for over 40 hours a week to support their families, and I gained an appreciation for their hard work.

Working a lower-wage job ($13 per hour) also taught me how to manage my own money. When I realized how many endless hours I had worked to earn the money I was spending, I was more hesitant to splurge and stuck to saving instead.

I also experienced working with different types of people, ranging from coworkers to managers to customers. When young children attending boating camp made rude remarks like, “I could get you fired if you’re not nice to me,” I learned to keep calm and be patient. When adults chose to ignore my advice of stepping into the boat quickly and ended up falling into the goose poop infested water, I learned to hold my laughter while helping them out.

Even though a summer college program or internship may be more academic and specific to college, it can be extremely expensive to participate, ranging from $6,000 to $11,000 or more for 4-6 week programs according to Forbes. Furthermore, many college admissions counselors and experts say college summer programs do not increase a student’s chance of getting into a prestigious college.

People who look down on students for working a minimum-wage job should reconsider their benefits. More than any summer program, a job teaches values of independence, responsibility, communication and money management — skills that can be applied in students’ lives beyond school. And having a job was also a great getaway from summer SAT prep and stress. Students should apply for jobs since they can make money and be more independent.

Even though academic enrichment programs might provide an engaging and fun learning experience, learning how to work at a job matters far beyond the classroom.

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