Jobs give high schoolers valuable experience

Published 8:03 pm Saturday, June 30, 2018

With school out, summer is typically a time for relaxation, family vacations and sleeping in, but for many high school students the summer months mean it is time to get a job.

From cutting grass, babysitting and working as camp counselors to lifeguarding and more, high school students become a key part of the workforce during the summer.

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Phillip Doiron, the executive director of the YMCA, estimated they hire about 60 high school students during the summer between their three facilities.

“They are critical,” Doiron said. “We have to have high school kids to function during the summer. We have so many programs and activities going on that if we didn’t have those available the organization would suffer.”

One of those students is John William Madison who is in his second summer working as a lifeguard at the YMCA’s Wilkinson Ver Beck pool. A rising senior at Warren Central, Madison said the job has enabled him to gain valuable experience while also giving him more freedom from his parents.

“I don’t have to ask mom and dad for money all the time. It is better whenever you don’t need your parents for everything and being independent. I really do enjoy that,” he said. “You have to decide whether you want to make money and have money to do things or if you want to go hang out with your friends and not be able to do things without money. There are days when I have to skip things because I have to work, but there’s also days that I can say can I get the day off and they are fine with.”

Colby Smith, who will be a junior next school year, got an early start in the workforce and has been cutting lawns each summer since he was 7. With years of experience under his belt, he said he has learned to balance work and hanging out with his friends during the summer.

“I just like helping people out. I work from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. three days a week,” Smith said. “I have enough free time to do whatever I want. I put work first and whenever I get done I just make plans.”

Learning that balance and the responsibility that comes with having a job is just one of the valuable life lessons the students say they take away from the summer jobs. They also learn how to manage money and gain skills related to working with people and going through the hiring process.

“It allows me to help my dad pay my bills and save some money for college,” Alaina Warnock, who works as a lifeguard at City Pool, said. “It will help me be able to save for future things like a house one day and a new car. It teaches me life skills and money management.”

Doiron said as laws have changed they have had to adjust how many high school students they can hire and for what jobs, but that no matter what role they have, he sees that first work experience as invaluable for the teenagers.

“That first job teaches so much about responsibility,” he said. “They are accountable for themselves many of times for the first time in their life. They have to show up on time, they have to work with a supervisor, they have certain tasks they have to do and it is not answering to their parents, it is answering to another adult.”