Chick-fil-A VP: Summer jobs and the incredible lifelong lessons they offer young people

As summer approaches, parents of many high school and college students are urging their children to find jobs during their time off – much to the chagrin of some students. While a job may last just for a summer or during after-school hours, it can have a long-term positive impact on a young person.

One of my sons had a challenging first year of college. He struggled to find his place and his focus. Trying to think of ways to help him gain motivation, I remembered that I knew someone when I was in college who had similar challenges who found a job roofing for the summer. One summer on hot roofs nailing in shingles and he was ready to buckle down and get serious about college the next semester.

After searching for a job that would teach our son the same hard work and responsibility, he got a job cleaning pools for the summer. Our son rose before dawn and worked until dark six days a week through a hot Georgia summer.

Yes, our son learned the skills of properly maintaining a pool, but he learned so much more. Part-time and summer jobs may not teach skills for long-term career choices. However, there is a very good possibility that the life skills learned will benefit the student for a lifetime.

Summer and part-time jobs are not just a rite of passage. They are the earliest steps into a lifetime of self-sufficiency and career fulfillment.

Here’s what summer and after-school jobs teach students:

·         Responsibility. Learning to show up on time – ready to work, in proper uniform and working all the hours in the shift – is one of the most vital skills learned on the job. If the job involves providing a service for customers, the experience is multiplied as the young worker strives to meet the expectations of the boss and the people being served.

·         Accountability. Learning how to respond and meet the expectations of a boss is very different than any other relationship. Setting goals and meeting deadlines is crucial to future success.

·         Money management. Young people often lack the resources to learn financial literacy and how to manage money. A job is an excellent way to earn money and learn how to budget it to meet expenses.

·         Confidence. When a young person learns a skill and is paid for it, increased self-confidence is often the result. To create value and feel valued is important in preparing for a lifetime in the workforce. Early success sets the student up for confidence in new and changing situations as experience is gained.

Ultimately, our son used his experience at a summer job cleaning pools to develop more responsibility in his character and strengthen his relationship-building skills with customers, co-workers and his boss. These were vital lessons that helped him in the classroom and all the steps along the way to his career.

In addition, the hard work encouraged him to be more serious about his studies, recognizing that the achievement of future dreams was dependent on his focus and discipline in the classroom.

Summer and part-time jobs are not just a rite of passage. They are the earliest steps into a lifetime of self-sufficiency and career fulfillment.

Dee Ann Turner is Vice President, Enterprise Social Responsibility, for Chick-fil-A, Inc. She is the bestselling author of It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture, now available in Spanish: El gusto es mio: El impacto del talento extraordinario y una cultura cautivante