Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's off to work we go...

We've written before about the importance of building affinities and how this can help a student broaden his interests and strenghten his skills. Students and parents often look at hobbies, extracurricular school activities, and community service as ways to acomplish this. We'd like to suggest another.

Working at a part-time job can build skills and responsibility for many young people, from the academically gifted to those who struggle in school. Although the concept of apprenticeship as a path to an adult career is something we think of in historical terms (Ben Franklin as a printer's apprentice comes to mind), working in an area of interest can help a young person decide if a particular career is really the right path for him. Even more gritty jobs, from sweeping a stockroom to flipping burgers, can bring benefits. The reward of a paycheck, the need to cooperate with others, and the reality of following instructions from a supervisor, can all help build maturity and skills that will stay with a young person into adulthood.

We know that some students need to spend all their time and energy on mastering their school work. We know that jobs are hard to find in this difficult economy. But we want to suggest that for some young people the benefits of working go far beyond the economic. Decisions about what to spend, what to save, and how to open a bank account are important steps toward adulthood. The next time your teenager asks for more pocket money or the newest electronic device, you might want to consider offering to help him draft a resume instead.

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