According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trend of working a job during high school is on the decline. About a third of U.S. teens do so, but that number is expected to drop to about one quarter by 2024, in part as a result of increasingly rigorous high school course work and shorter seasonal breaks as a growing number of high school students attend summer school.
Even so, there are a number of benefits of working while in high school. Getting a job can help you:
- Develop a strong work ethic.
- Learn the value of money and how to budget.
- Gain new skills (both hard and soft).
- Acquire references and build an impressive college application.
Answer these three questions to see if job-searching is in your best interest:
- Can I keep my grades up and still have time to work? As a high school student, academic success is your No. 1 job. You don’t have to have straight A’s to benefit from working, but you do need to be mastering your coursework and developing a plan as to how you will manage your time so that your grades don’t suffer. Keeping a detailed diary for a week can help you see how much time you are spending on schoolwork versus social or extracurricular activities and help you determine how many hours are available for work and if job seeking is worth your while.
- What new skills will I gain on the job I’m considering? On-the-job training can include technical skills, such as how to use certain equipment or software, as well as soft skills, such as communication, collaboration and leadership. If you already have some idea about what career you’re interested in, consider how a job in that arena would benefit you. For example, if you think you may want to be a veterinarian, a job as a kennel assistant would give you a peek at what that career entails.
- What logistical hurdles do I need to clear to get a job? Depending on which state you live in and your age, you may need to apply for a work permit. Other considerations include whether you have reliable transportation and whether you have any health-related or physical barriers that could limit your job prospects. For example, some jobs require you to be able to lift a certain amount of weight.
Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s also a good idea to discuss the pros and cons of a part-time job with a trusted adult. Talking to your parents or school counselor can help you weigh your options and see if you can strike the delicate balance between working and academics.
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