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Summer Jobs: More Than Money in Your Pocket

Scooping ice cream

School’s out and many high schoolers and college students are taking summer jobs. Seasonal work can provide extra spending money for many teens or much needed funds for school expenses. But summer jobs aren’t just about earning a paycheck and learning how to manage the money you’ve made. These jobs provide valuable work experience and help youth develop professional skills and discover their talents. It’s an opportunity to take responsibility, learn time management skills and figure out how to get along with co-workers. Summer jobs also provide future employment references, mentorship and can even help teens succeed in school, according to Stanford researcher Jacob Leos Urbel.

This summer my 13-year-old daughter has her first job as a camper in leadership training, which got me thinking back on my summer jobs. One of the most unique positions I held was at the House of Seven Gables in Salem, MA. I was hired as a tour guide at age 15 and underwent rigorous training before the tourist season began. There was a script to learn and facts to be memorized before I was trusted to lead a tour. Oh, and then there was the uniform. All tour guides were required to dress in custom-tailored period costumes.  I was provided with calico fabric for two dresses and issued a hoop skirt to be worn underneath. I would have fit right in on the set of a Jane Austen production. In fact, each tour was a performance of sorts. I loved opening the door to the secret staircase with a flourish.

The learning and development at the House of Seven Gables didn’t end with the historical facts or the skills needed to navigate tight spaces in a hoop skirt. This experience helped me hone my public speaking skills and taught me how to build rapport with people. I also learned the importance of being professional. You never knew who would be on your tour – those tourists might even end up having dinner with your parents.

I asked some of my learning and development colleagues to share memories of their summer jobs:

Melony Johnson—manager, development and engagement

A summer job that helped me to develop my professional skills was courtesy clerk at a neighborhood grocery store. I learned how to pursue opportunities for growth and know when to move on when my skills and talents are not being recognized. Ultimately, I learned:

  • How to really listen
  • The art of customer service
  • The importance of setting goals and putting in the effort to advance professionally


Michael Grant—director, learning design and development

After my freshman year of college, I took a job out of my “comfort zone”, and worked on the sales promotions team for ADT Security Systems. It was a commissioned-based job where our small team rode around the city in a company van offering special promotional incentives (free equipment) to secure new customers. This opportunity made me increase my self-confidence and also exposed me to the following:

  • Strategic marketing principles and creatively “pitching” to potential clients
  • Value proposition
  • Presentation and communication skills
  • Negotiation techniques
  • Networking and relationship building

Clar Rosso—vice president, member learning and competency

After my sophomore year of college, I was a summer intern for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their community services and special events department. In addition to learning that eating lunch in an empty baseball stadium is pretty incredible, I learned about the importance of:

  • Stakeholder communications
  • Giving back to your community
  • Supporting nonprofits
  • Managing messages with the media
  • Determining when to in-source and when to outsource key business functions

What skills did you develop in your summer job? We’d love to hear from you. Share your comments below.

Jennifer Gardner, Manager--Communications and Social Strategy, Member Learning & Competency, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Scooping ice cream courtesy of Getty Images.


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