A series of (what I thought were) unfortunate events led me to get a serious summer job my sophomore year of high school. I had worked summer camps and as needed jobs before, but this was much more serious. This was a show up six days a week job. That summer job quickly evolved into year-round employment that I've maintained for the past three years. Since starting this job, I have gained an abundance of friends, knowledge, and money. Today, I want to share with you some of the most beneficial lessons I've learned while working.
1. Time Management.
Most summer jobs make your schedule for you, so you are forced to become much more creative with the rest of your time. Summer is a time of distance and fun. You no longer see your friends at school every day, so you obviously want to schedule as much time together as possible. However, Mom and Dad also know you're home for the summer, so that handy to-do list is reborn. You quickly learn how to work, do your chores, and hang out with friends. This skill translates well over to school, extra-curricular activities, and homework. It's also a lesson you're bound to learn sooner or later, so why not just learn it now?
Respect your elders. The customer is always right. Work well with others. There are so many relationships in a job that would not succeed without the basic quality of being polite. Being rude to your bosses will quickly get you fired, but so will being rude to the public or the people you work with. My job has taught me how to put a smile on my face even when I felt like screaming instead.
3. Customer Service.
Most careers include a certain amount of customer service; pretty much no matter what you do, you're going to be working with the public in some way. Trust me, doing so has its ups and downs. Some days you may be incredibly frustrated with the dumb questions people come up with, but there are just as many sweet people you encounter. The good customers definitely make everything worth it in the long run, and they are the people you'll remember.
4. It never hurts to ask.
Most of the time, if you don't have the answer to something, someone around you does. Asking questions is a crucial part of team building, and we often find ourselves feeling too prideful to ask a question. Learning to ask questions not only keeps a business running and customers satisfied, but teaches a major lesson in humility. Always remember, it's better to be safe than sorry.
5. Thinking on your feet.
The manager isn't around, you're not authorized to give refunds, and a customer is complaining about undercooked meat. Without the ability to compromise and satisfy customers, the business could easily encounter major issues. From minor emergencies to major ones, working increases your ability to troubleshoot, deal with upset people, and solve issues; three skills which many people use in most areas of life.
6. Money management.
Balancing a register, completing purchase orders, and doing inventory are just some of the ways employees deal with money and numbers. You always think you'll never use what you learn in math class, but your summer job may just keep you wishing you had paid more attention in class. Not only will you be handling money at work, but you'll also be managing your own paychecks. You don't want to spend your entire check before the next one comes out, and you often need to put a certain amount into savings. Mom and Dad may be pushing you to be more independent now, so maybe you'll be responsible for your own gas and clothes. Trust me, that eighty dollar pair of shoes suddenly becomes a lot more expensive when you're paying for it.
There's not always someone standing over you telling you what to do in the real world. You're responsible for showing up to work on time and doing your tasks. You'll probably only be shown how to do your work responsibilities once, so make sure you keep track of them. Ask for help if you need it, and make sure you meet all deadlines. If you have an issue with your work schedule or a deadline, contact your superior asap. It's your responsibility to take off when you need it, and no one is going to beg you to come to work. You're getting your first taste of the adult world at your summer job, and everyone around you expects you to act like an adult.
You must always realize that your job will likely be giving you recommendations later. You don't want to have done a poor job and be afraid to list that workplace as a reference. Everything you do at work may have larger consequences than typically seen. A good job can lead to a raise, but a bad job will easily lead to being laid-off. Even if you think you're being forced to get a job, always try your best. Your boss's opinion of you might get you the connections you need later. So always show up to work with a smile and push forward. It's all really worth it, I promise.