WHEN I WAS a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get a summer job. Just the thought of it would give me goose bumps. Why? I could earn my own money and buy the car I desperately wanted: a two-tone 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air with a big steering wheel that looked like it belonged on a bus.
My dream was to gain some independence and drive myself wherever I needed to go. After working a number of summer jobs, I bought the car at the beginning of my senior year in high school.
You want to know something about that new used car? At the time, it was the best car I’d ever been in. The reason: I bought it with my own money. I was so proud of myself. It was my first big purchase and I didn’t have any buyer’s remorse.
Later in life, I realized the most important thing about my summer jobs wasn’t the money or the stuff I was able to buy. Instead, it was what I learned about life and how it prepared me for fulltime work.
During those summer jobs, I met people from all walks of life. Some were kind and helpful, others not so much. It was a small glimpse into what working life was going to be like as an adult—something that can’t be taught in high school or college.
Today, it isn’t as easy for teenagers to get a summer job. But if they’re fortunate enough to land one, there are six key benefits:
Dennis Friedman retired from Boeing Satellite Systems after a 30-year career in manufacturing. Born in Ohio, Dennis is a California transplant with a bachelor’s degree in history and an MBA. A self-described “humble investor,” he likes reading historical novels and about personal finance. His previous articles include Naming Names, Blame Game and Not as Advertised. Follow Dennis on Twitter @DMFrie.
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