The obvious struggle in being a working teen is that most likely, you’re working a minimum wage job or not much more, that for the most part, is not intellectually enriching or very entertaining. So perhaps we may take pity on those who choose to subject themselves to this kind of an “extracurricular” activity – because who wants to sit inside for five hours after school at an indoor pool and lifeguard, wait tables on a Friday night, or take orders at a Deli for eight hours on a Saturday?
People who need money, that’s who.
Not to imply that teens who choose to work through school come from families that can’t support themselves, moreso that these teens may better understand the fact that while their families may not be poor, they, themselves, as individuals, are poor – myself included. So there is the obvious benefit of earning money to put towards whatever you please – your college fund, a future car, or even something you want to be able to treat yourself or your friends to – but a greater benefit in the hands-on learning experience you get from working a low-wage job. With most of these jobs come the expectation of being able to provide customer service with little training and under-developed communication skills (aka, many teens’ absurd inability to make a professional phone call). This type of learning on the job may be the most valuable to one’s future jobs and career goals – because nobody will put you in your place or educate you in customer service like that lady who walks in and thinks she deserves to be carried around on a golden throne.
All low-paid employees have deal with it: the customer that thinks they own the place. While this is probably the most frustrating and draining situation to deal with, aside from possibly a medical emergency, it builds the most character in determined young workers. I’ve watched teens grow from their first to most recent time when being chewed out by unhappy, crazy customers, and let me tell you, the result is impressively useful. Being able to handle angry authoritative figures in a calm, collected, and seemingly happy manner will only work to your advantage in the future and make your life easier.
The moral of the story is this: If you’re young and you have the time, get a job! Not just as a camp counselor for your school – for an outside company that has an agenda of its own to work that is foreign to you – because your experience will greatly benefit you in the long run. And to whatever working teens be out there, we salute you and your ability to work long hours after school, endure doing something you probably don’t enjoy for long periods of time, and handle crazy customers. You will be able to ultimately reap the benefits of working a minimum wage job in the future.