Well-off kids who don’t have to work or take care of a sibling during the summer can embark on elaborate journeys to find or foster their passion. They can volunteer for an HIV program in Africa, study health care in the Caribbean or immerse themselves in Mandarin in China. They can code at camp, hone up on Graph Theory and Combinatorics at Harvard or do an internship at the Stanford Medical School (beware: last year 1,300 kids applied for 70 spots.)
Or, they could get a job.
Not an internship at their uncle’s architecture firm, or a glorified filing job at their neighbor’s investment bank: jobs like scooping ice cream or flipping burgers, where no kid is too special, they actually earn money, and they get to see life through a radically different lens.
“The lessons are huge,” said Richard Weissbourd, a lecturer and researcher at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. “You see how hard people work, how rude and unthinking people can be to them.”
“It’s a real lesson in how to treat people,” he added.
Weissbourd, who wrote a report on how to change the college-admissions process to stem the insanity it breeds, said that many parents think that high-profile internships broaden horizons. Not so: “For many well-off kids, we are narrowing their options,” he countered. “Those are the only jobs that are elevated as having meaning.”
Will it help or hurt with colleges?
Starting in high school, many parents wonder how to structure their kids’ summers. The iterations are endless: academic enrichment or sports? Music or animation? Hip hop or gaming? Should parents let kids free-range it, and take a break from their amped up school-year schedules? Or should they hone up on biochemistry while prepping for the SAT and practicing the oboe?
And beneath all of that: What do colleges value?
“Colleges will forever find holding a job more attractive, and far sexier than going to Costa Rica to build houses and surf in the afternoons,” said Susan Warner, an independent college counselor in New York City.
Irena Smith, a former Stanford admissions officer who now runs a private college-consulting practice in Palo Alto, recalled a student whose stand-out essay was about her summers working in fast-food. “Given the population of students I see, she probably shone like a diamond in the applicant pool at Harvard,” she told the Atlantic.
The student was accepted at many Ivy League schools—not because of the job, but because of the way she viewed the world and captured it in her writing. But the job helped her develop the perspective. “Kids think summers are part of the community service Olympics, that it’s about finding a high-profile, impressive activity,” said Weissbourd. “That’s not what colleges care about.”
Colleges want kids who know who they are and what they want. Jobs can help with that.
Michele Borba, author of Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About Me Worldargues that empathy builds resilience, but that empathy is a verb, not a worksheet: we have to work for it. She interviewed 500 kids for her book to ask them what helped them most in becoming more empathetic—the majority reported it was exposure to different views.
“We are more likely to empathize with those in our own social hub,” Borba said. More privileged kids live in more privileged hubs; the more exposure they get to differences, the better. “Exposure helps them see that others have the same feelings or likes or needs,” she said.
Kids with jobs have benefits for parents too. Teens often hate parents’ rules. But good luck to them if they try to challenge, or defy a boss managing a large staff of people living on the minimum wage.
“Any way you turn it, holding a job is one of the most important things an adolescent can do,” Warner said. They have to get up in the morning, manage their time and money, pay taxes, and be responsible to a schedule that neither kid nor parent designed.
Another perk: they have to put away their phones.
For all its merits. admissions officials are not seeing a surge in real-world summer job experience. Bruce Poch, the former dean of admissions at Pomona College told me here that his colleagues in the admissions office used to joke:
“…that they were witnessing the ‘complete disappearance of summer jobs,’ especially among upper-income applicants who opted for “decorative” internships at places like investment banks, where they could work with friends of their parents.”
Instead of helping kids tailor the most impressive-sounding summer, maybe we should help them with a character-building one.
“A service job is an opportunity for well-off kids to have exposure to something they won’t at any other time in their life,” said Harvard’s Weissbourd.
And you don’t have to pay for it.
Part-time Jobs For Students: A Good Idea Essay
1302 Words6 Pages
Part-time Jobs for Students: A Good Idea
I, being employed with a part-time job, truly do believe that there is no wrong in having a part-time job while being a student. I honestly think that it is an awesome, great idea for students to have part-time jobs before they graduate from high school -- if they have the time and resources to do so. Students who are responsible, or learn responsibility, have nothing to loose but all to gain by having a job. There are a few key points that prove students having part-time jobs is an awesome concept which I am going to point out. A student that can maintain a part-time job gain excellent first-hand experience that cannot be gained from the classroom. Today, if you are looking in the help…show more content…
A student with a part-time job will learn not only great work ethic, but also how to balance the demanding workloads between school and work. This is great for when students go on to become involved in other activities because they will know time management and how to balance their energy between activities. Time management is a skill that is extremely important to students and people in today?s world because everything is so fast, and compressed; there is a lot to do in a typical day of a student! Employed students must learn how to work while still making time for their studies and other things. They will also have to learn confidence in telling the boss when they absolutely can not work because schoolwork must come first. For example, I used to work about 40 hours a week at Tim Horton?s while I was attending Northern full time as a student. Between all this, I was training for boxing, running x-country, maintaining a social life and such but I kept my schoolwork the first priority with my job running in a close second. It was hard to get on track of balancing everything while working eight(plus) hour day shifts but I was able to manage it, and find use for every moment I had awake. I learned a lot from that time in my life and now every day I get I seem to plan out and make sure I have the proper time for everything. Students learning how to balance their workload will benefit a lot