Summer Jobs May Be Better For Teenagers Than Going To Camp
July 8, 2014

Summer Jobs May Be Better For Teenagers Than Going To Camp

Alan McStravick for - Your Universe online

Unsure of whether to ship junior off to one themed camp or another or put a job application in front of them?

New research out of the University of British Columbia (UBC) claims earning pay from a summer job will go a lot farther than any extra dribbling practice at the soccer camp or even from reaching level 130 of Halo 4 while on the living room sofa.

The UBC Sauder School of Business study claims teenagers working summer or even evening jobs during the school semester gain a competitive advantage over teenagers who do not work. The team attributes this advantage to being exposed earlier to the inner workings of the working world and understanding how to manage in it. The teenager who works is more likely to find better employment at a better pay rate as an adult.

“With summer in full swing and kids sitting on the couch, parents are wondering whether to push them to find a job,” says Sauder professor Marc-David L. Seidel, who co-authored the study. “Parents may think that their kids could do better than a job at the local fast food joint. But our study shows even flipping burgers has value – particularly if it leads to part-time work later during school term.”

Teenagers who opt for part-time jobs earlier are able to progress to better-suited careers. This, the team notes, is likely due to early work exposure that aids in helping them to hone their preferences. The teenagers are able to enhance their soft skills, acquire better references and learn how to job hunt more effectively. When they leave their schooling, they often have a much wider career network than their non-working peers.

Seidel noted this trend only improved the more hours a student worked, particularly during the school term. He believes this is because juggling work and school forces the teenager to become a better manager of their time. Embracing responsibility at age 15 ultimately leads to better career prospects later on. As the study noted, this benefit was present when the teenager worked as much as 33 hours per week during the school year and 43 hours during the summer.

The data for the study was derived from the Statistics Canada Youth in Transition Survey. In all, data from 246,661 15-year-old Canadian teenagers pertaining to their work history over a 10-year period were examined between the years of 1999, when the teenagers were 15, and ending in 2009, when the study cohort was then aged 25.

“Adolescent labor has been stigmatized as exploitative with many parents opting to put their kids in summer camp rather than summer jobs,” says Seidel. “However, our research shows that working can offer educational and developmental opportunities that prepare adolescents for the real world.”

The study, entitled Beneficial “Child Labor”: The impact of adolescent work on future professional outcomes, was published in the most recent edition of the journal Research in the Sociology of Work. Along with Seidel, the study was co-authored by Sauder PhD student Marjan Houshmand and Sauder Commerce Scholar Alum Dennis G. Ma.


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