By KATIE HOPSICKER
BETHLEHEM — “Summer jobs aren’t what they used to be,” stated Drew Desilver in an article from the Pew Research Center.
The article explained its findings that fewer teenagers are engaging in work during their school breaks: “But even though there are more working-age teens today than in 2000, 16.7 million vs. 15.9 million, far fewer of them are in the labor force: 5.6 million as of last month, down from 8.1 million in May 2000.”
Desilver writes that while fewer teens are working low-skill, entry-level jobs, many have picked up unpaid internships, summer school, community service and opportunities abroad instead.
Is the same true for the Capital District?
Tracy Farrell, a business teacher and certified work experience coordinator at Bethlehem Central School District, believes that teens need “to have different experiences… a lot of what you gain in a job or internship, you can’t learn in a classroom.”
At BCHS, Farrell helps teens find internships, and they are able to get real world experience while gaining school credit. Farrell described it as a “wonderful network opportunity,” as her students have paired with businesses such as the Chamber of Commerce, insurance companies, banks, the Audubon Society, government offices and more.
“Internships can help develop transferable skills,” stated Farrell, adding that these skills are beneficial to students when applying to colleges and future jobs. When asked whether teens are under a certain pressure to be employed, she said “I don’t think teens understand the importance… pressure is important and something that’s necessary.”
Upcoming Tufts University junior and Delmar native Connor Doyle agrees that there is pressure on teens: “There is extraordinary pressure, at least at my university, for college sophomores [and] juniors to obtain internships for the subsequent summer. Applying for next summer’s internship is a top priority for me.”
Doyle, a Bethlehem High School graduate, has previously worked summer jobs as a lifeguard and swim coach. This summer, he has been living and working in Dubai as an intern for Endeavor at their United Arab Emirates office.
Doyle is one of many examples of students going abroad for summer study or work. With his major being international relations, he reasoned, “I chose to pursue a job outside the United States because I am interested in the Middle East and North Africa region.” He also explained that he would “have more exposure to Arabic,” and “gain a unique perspective living and working abroad.”
While not all students choose to venture out of the states, many still choose to work at home.
Recent Bethlehem graduate Grace Hanifin is saving money and preparing for college while working at Perfect Blend Cafe and Twisted Vine in Delmar. She believes that jobs are necessary and have given her great skills.
“A lot of kids in this town don’t have jobs and they just use their parents’ money to coast through the summer… but on the other hand you do have a lot of kids that are working,” said Hanifin. “I have two jobs; I know a lot of other people that have one job or multiple and I think that’s very valuable when you go to college because you learn that responsibility.”
Hanifin also explained the multitude of skills and valuable lessons she has learned working: responsibility, time management, communication and being a role model were only a few of the skills Hanifin has developed.
Many teens are often worried about their summer employment due to the pressure of college applications. However, Siena College junior and admissions worker Emily Crandall advises “It’s important to get involved. Find something that you like, or something that ties into your major…”
She added, “[Colleges] value whatever you’re involved in. The number one thing is definitely involvement; they want to see a well-rounded student.” Crandall continued, “It doesn’t matter if it’s an internship versus a job like working in an ice cream shop, as long as they see that you’re working.”
Whether you are interning abroad, taking classes, working at home, or saving for college, there is no doubt that summer jobs will always be an important part of school breaks for teens.