Boston Herald

For teens, regular summer jobs may beat side gigs

- By Nerdwallet

Teens looking for summer work may think “side hustles” and social media are the only ways to make money.

“What we hear from a lot of young people is that they’d rather try to start a business than have traditiona­l jobs,” says Ed Grocholski, chief marketing officer of Junior Achievemen­t USA, an organizati­on that helps young people prepare for career success.

It’s easy to see why teens are excited. Social media influencer­s appear to be cashing in on their images and hobbies, and side hustle culture makes it look more feasible than ever to market and sell a product or service.

But what teens might not realize is that early entreprene­urial endeavors usually take time to take off. Put another way, they don’t provide steady pay.

But traditiona­l jobs do, and for teenagers looking to eventually be their own boss online or off, such inperson work can lay beneficial groundwork.

Here are some options for working-age teens and what lessons they could learn on the job.

Restaurant­s remain a quintessen­tial employer of students on break.

“We have more than 1.9 million teens on payrolls in restaurant­s,” says Michelle Korsmo, president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Associatio­n.

It’s an excellent training ground for young people, she says. From food safety and customer service to problem-solving and time management, employees who want to be challenged will be.

Korsmo says opportunit­y or need can arise quickly. That could mean moving from host to server or chef to fill an opening, or volunteeri­ng to pick up trash in the parking lot when nobody else will.

“Say ‘yes,’ have a great attitude, be willing to learn,” she says. “It doesn’t take very long before you gain in responsibi­lities and in ability to make more money.”

While a side hustle can be a solitary experience, businesses that hire teens — like the local pool, car wash or grocery store — bring people together.

Dan Horan manages a Wegmans grocery store in Pittsford, New York. He says the young people who come to work for him get a sense for the scale of the operation.

“It takes 650 people to put this place together every single day,” he says. “There’s a lot of teamwork involved in what we do.”

Horan describes the store’s staff as a support system of workers depending on one another and feeling comfortabl­e to raise their hand for help.

“We’re here for what people have going on inside and outside of work,” he says. “It’s a safe place to go.”

Young workers will find communicat­ion in the workplace is an essential and organic experience.

The in-person interactio­n is more important since the pandemic, Grocholski says. “Being around people, being in a team environmen­t builds an entire skill set that frankly is kind of by the wayside, and is really critical for young people to achieve their potential.”

Aagna Patel, a former Junior Achievemen­t member and now a college student in Texas, went to work as an accounting intern at a manufactur­ing firm in Houston the summer after her senior year of high school. She saw it as an opportunit­y to learn from the life experience of her teammates.

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