Summer jobs provide life skills

Now is the time. Find a summer job! Many students in Northern Virginia are lucky enough to consider many options for their summer breaks: vacation, charity, travel, work. There is true value in an honest summer job for everybody, though, even those who don’t need the money.

A summer job is an experience unlike charity work, or missionary travel. The feeling of earning a full paycheck is incomparable: “it [is] the emotion, never commented on by the poets, enjoyed by those who feel that, for once, they are earning their pay,” remarked Tom Wolfe in Bonfire of the Vanities. As unpleasant as the children one nannies for might be, or as sunburned as one gets from the lifeguard chair, there is no denying that it feels good to earn money.

And that money does not disappear. If you earned it, now you get to decide what to do with it. Do you buy a stock with it? Do you blow it on shoes? It’s your money! For many students who have never had their own bank account, the weekly paycheck becomes an exercise in self-reliance. The transition from teen to adult begins here, when one can write a check, or get a debit card, or buy penny stocks, without a parent’s oversight.

In the same vein, and in recognition of the recent April 15 tax deadline, an 18-year-old will benefit immensely from filing taxes for the first time while they still have a parent around to help. Taxes can be very difficult, and many summer jobs will not withhold income tax from a paycheck, making taxes a frustrating experience.

If taxes are not enough to excite you into finding summer employment, consider traveling. It is fully possible to work in another state. Get a job lifeguarding at your West-Coast cousin’s pool, or be a nanny in Manhattan. Summer jobs can be radically new experiences, and there is no reason for them to be boring. Finding a cool job with new people, or in a new place, can be like a vacation with pay. If you start looking now you could work at a ropes course and conquer your fear of heights, or lifeguard at a lake and spend your summer getting paid to tan on the beach. Do not let it be a boring summer!