Choosing whether or not to work while in high school is a big decision! On the one hand, you want to earn some extra spending cash and learn good money management habits, but on the other hand, you feel like having a job could distract you from getting good grades or spending time with friends.
Depending on what you have going on in your life, you may feel like your schedule is already close to overflowing or that you need to get a job regardless of how busy you are to help out with family bills.
Let’s discuss determining if a high school job is a good option for you!
Are High School Jobs Worth It?
I had multiple jobs in high school (retail, fast food, babysitting, and landscaping). I even started my own business at 15 that provided jobs to teen mothers while enabling them to provide for their families while still attending high school. To me, it was absolutely worth the long hours because it allowed me the opportunity to put food on the table and pay the household bills for my siblings and me.
The jobs that I worked before starting my first business gave me the skills that I needed to manage time and money on my own, work hard, run a register, interact with customers, be a good steward of resources, and love people in the way they needed at the time. I learned how to be responsible and what it felt like to be treated with respect by adults that I respected.
I learned to be independent and manage my time wisely because I had a lot to squeeze into a day. I kept my grades up, played sports, and had a social life because I learned how to set priorities and delegate tasks I knew I couldn’t tackle myself. I learned to manage money, shop sales, and budget my money, so bills got paid on time.
Because of my teenage experiences in the workplace, I now own 3 thriving businesses and have earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. I develop marketing strategies daily and produce content for companies that educate on personal finance.
These are skills that I picked up as a teenager while working in a real estate investment business, answering phones in exchange for their mentorship as I started my first business on the weekend.
I learned about determination and hard work ethic during those years, and I learned how to treat people well regardless of whether or not I got a sale from them because building relationships is worth so much more than the money.
Pros of Having a Job in High School
Having a job in high school has many benefits, but it’s not for everyone. You’ve heard my story, but you deserve the chance to make your own decisions so let’s talk about the pros and cons of having a high school job.
- Money Management. Having your own money to manage on your own teaches so many valuable lessons and establishes a work ethic or desire to work more hours for a bigger paycheck. You learn the relationship between how many hours you have to work to make a purchase which helps you prioritize your spending based on your values. Banking, taxes, and budgeting will play a huge part in your adult life, so getting an early start will give you a leg up.
- Learning How Much Things Actually Cost. It’s fun to spend your money, and you start to realize how much things cost, like gas, food, clothing, and entertainment.
- Life Skills. Working a job teaches responsibility, integrity, confidence, teamwork, and effective communication, which will help you throughout your life.
- Career Skills. Not only will you learn valuable life skills, but you will also learn how to write a resume, fill out applications, interview for jobs, and negotiate salary or benefits. Then you have an opportunity to gain work experience and customer service skills.
- Time Management. Learning to prioritize your time and determine what you want to spend your time on and what you don’t is a valuable experience that will serve you well as you mature. It can be messy initially and maybe even frustrating, but it’s worth learning.
- Networking and Social Skills. Working in customer service will allow you to meet all kinds of people from different backgrounds, which will improve your listening skills, ability to hold conversations, take direction or orders, interact with adults that you are unfamiliar with, and learn what makes people tick. Learning to network will expose you to different careers and values, which can build friendships you can leverage later in your career.
- Self-Esteem and Confidence. In your job, you will learn repeatable processes and become an expert in them. As new employees are hired, your supervisor may rely on you to train them in these processes, which will build your self-esteem and confidence.
- Less Risky Behavior Due to Boredom. The opportunity to go from school to work leaves less time for boredom and deters risky behavior. You have the chance to meet friends at work that share similar values and life goals as you.
- Trying Out Different Jobs to See What You Enjoy. No one wants to work their entire adult life in a job they hate just to pay the bills and provide for a family. Getting a job as a teen in an area that interests you will allow you a chance to try out different vocations and build experience that will build your resume.
Cons of Having a Job in High School
- Impacts on Social Life. Teens are social creatures by nature, and jobs can impact the amount of time you have to spend with friends or on school activities like sports or clubs. One way to combat this is to find a job with flexible scheduling and understands that teens have many demands on their time.
- Learning to Juggle Responsibilities. When you get a job, you are adding another serious responsibility to your plate, so you must adjust to juggling school, work, activities, family, friends, and everything else you have going on. This will improve your time management skills, and you will learn to ask others for help accomplishing what you need to get done but may not have time to do.
- Losing Interest In Unpaid Activities. Earning money can become addicting if you let it, and you can soon start picking up as many shifts as possible rather than focusing on your school work or social life. You’re only young once and have plenty of time to earn money.
- Loss of Sleep. Most teen jobs offer hours on nights or weekends, so you may need to make an extra effort to ensure you are getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night to keep yourself healthy.
- Increased Stress. Most teen jobs are customer-facing positions, and sometimes customers may become challenging to handle, or you may face a fast-paced work environment that is hard to adjust to. Be sure to focus on your mental health and find healthy ways of coping with stress like physical exercise or meditation.
- End of Childhood and Start of Adult Responsibilities. For many adults, the first job in high school is the start of their working career and your teenage years are a complicated time in life where you are no longer a child but aren’t quite an adult yet. This period of time is where you can close one chapter and start a new one. You may be ready for this opportunity or you may not be. That choice is yours.
How to Decide if Having a High School Job is Right for You
You can start by having a conversation with your parents to ask their advice if getting a high school job is the right choice for you. Ask them if they can help you commute between home, school, and work or hold you accountable for other life responsibilities like schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Allow them to help you learn how to manage your money and time.
Remember that you can get a part-time job to try out for yourself and experiment with various job opportunities if the first is not a good fit for you, your schedule, or your skills. Moving around to different jobs is not a bad idea as a teen because it helps you learn different skills and find areas that you enjoy working in.
If you struggle in the work environment and don’t feel like working is a good fit for you right now, have a conversation with your parents about stepping away from work and focusing on school or activities. But, you may flourish in your work environment and surprise yourself with how well you adjust to the new level of responsibility and jangle in your pocket from your paychecks.