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Learning to Earn: Ideal Summer Jobs for Teens and the Lessons They Teach  Thumbnail

Learning to Earn: Ideal Summer Jobs for Teens and the Lessons They Teach

Learning to Earn: Ideal Summer Jobs for Teens and the Lessons They Teach 


Many financial education resources for teens emphasize the importance of saving, investing, and spending wisely, but they often overlook the crucial concept of how to earn. A summer job can be a rewarding way to learn how to earn and manage money. These early work experiences can help teenagers develop a strong work ethic and learn how to succeed in a professional environment. Moreover, a summer job can instill a sense of accomplishment as their efforts translate into traction toward financial goals such as saving for a car, investing to grow their net worth, or spending on hobbies and fun with friends. Many different types of jobs are available to teens, and each offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities to earn income, gain professional experience, and develop valuable transferable skills.

Learn How to Be a Responsible Employee

Most teens start their professional journey as entry-level employees of established businesses such as grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants, and recreation centers. Applying for these jobs familiarizes teens with typical job-seeking skills such as writing a concise and compelling résumé and cover letter, filling out job application forms online, and being interviewed on the phone and in person. Experience in a variety of entry-level jobs can also help teens identify what they like and do not like in a job, guiding their future job searches and career trajectories. Furthermore, working these summer jobs allows teens to gain experience in low-stakes roles while learning from more seasoned employees and managers. 

Summer jobs introduce teens to fundamental aspects of work and professionalism such as responsibility, dependability, collaboration, and work ethic. While on the job, teens will learn the importance of punctuality, efficiency, and attention to detail. They will also have numerous opportunities to practice and develop professional interpersonal skills such as effectively communicating with employers, coworkers, and customers or clients. 

Popular Entry-Level Jobs for Teens

  • Grocery bagger or cashier
  • Retail sales clerk
  • Golf caddy
  • Farmhand
  • Server
  • Barista
  • Fast food cashier

Learn How to Be a Strong Leader

Older teens with more work experience will benefit from a job where they can take on more responsibility and practice valuable leadership skills such as decision-making, conflict resolution, and delegation. Additionally, leadership roles foster confidence, quick and innovative thinking, and adaptability. Leadership experience is an attractive résumé builder that can open the door to career progress and opportunities for professional growth. 

One way for teens to gain leadership experience is seeking a promotion in a workplace where they have already demonstrated their reliability and skill, such as by transitioning from a retail cashier to a shift lead at the same store. However, teens can also practice leadership skills in entry-level roles that require them to act in a position of authority over children or their peers. This type of role is commonly found in academic and recreational positions such as tutoring or coaching. 

Professional Leadership Roles for Teens

  • Camp counselor
  • Sports coach or assistant coach
  • Lifeguard 
  • Tutor 
  • Fast food shift lead or manager
  • Retail shift lead or manager

Learn How to Start a Business

An entrepreneurial job can be a fantastic option for teens with a high level of creativity and initiative. Teens who have a unique idea for a product or service and are excited by the idea of being their own boss may be interested in starting their own business. Entrepreneurial jobs can also work well for teens struggling in a saturated job market; if it’s difficult for them to find a job opening that aligns with their skills, interests, and availability, they can make their own opportunities. 

With entrepreneurship, the only limits are your own skills and creativity. A teen who is passionate about the school yearbook or has a knack for snapping stellar pictures for social media may excel at photography and photo editing for weddings, birthdays, senior photos, and baby portraits. A teen who loves spending time outside may thrive when mowing lawns or walking dogs. These types of jobs all require teens to practice networking and marketing their skills because they need to find their own clients or customers. In addition to connecting with clients, they will need to set their own prices, keep track of their own schedules and deadlines, and solve problems independently. 

Business Ideas for Teens

  • Babysitting
  • Making and selling art on Etsy, at farmer’s markets, or in other marketplaces
  • Mowing lawns and providing other lawncare services
  • Walking dogs
  • Pet sitting or house sitting
  • Photographing and photo editing for special events 


Summer jobs are more than just a way for teens to earn a bit of money; they also offer opportunities to develop their professional skills and set themselves up for future career success. Summer jobs also give teens the opportunity to manage their own income and build good financial habits by practicing saving, spending, giving, and investing their own money early in life. 

If your teen has earned income they would like to invest, or if their business is booming and they need guidance on how to scale and sustain their success, consider reaching out to a financial advisor at Business & Financial Strategies (BFS). The financial advisors at BFS provide a holistic suite of financial services, encompassing financial planning for business owners, investment management, tax planning, insurance planning, and family wealth counseling. They have extensive experience helping individuals and families find success in all aspects of personal finance and can provide individualized guidance to help you make responsible financial decisions and achieve your short- and long-term goals. BFS has offices in the Iowa City–Coralville area, Kalona, and Fairfield, Iowa, and serves clients from all around the United States. To learn more, call 319-358-7700 or visit www.BFSFinancialPlanning.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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