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Teens and Summer: What Are Your Plans This Summer?

It is hard to believe but another summer is upon us! It’s not only the weather that changes with this season, but routines and expectations too. I think everyone, parents and teens, gets a bit anxious about how to fill the potentially empty days of summer. So I am wondering, what are your thoughts and plans this summer? Do you think it’s a time for rest and relaxation or do you think kids should be getting a job or volunteering? Should teen summers be a time to spend with family? What are you doing this summer, and what are most of your friends doing?

When I was a teenager I worked each summer, and I think that’s the way it should be.
I don’t want to sound like the “old” person who walked both ways to school, uphill, in the snow. I just think teen summers are better with work. Working gave me a sense of responsibility. It taught me to show up on time (even when I wanted to sleep later). It also taught me how to deal with a boss who I thought was mean, unreasonable or simply stupid – because that’s what you have to do in life. Maybe most importantly it taught me the joy (and value) of having my own money, which I could spend however I wanted.

I know the job market is tough. It’s much harder to find a summer job as a teenager these days. It’s more fun to travel on a charitable mission or participate in an exciting internship (which may be funded significantly by the parents). I understand that getting in to college or getting a real job needs something on a resume which stands out. But I think the long term value of a “boring” summer job has become under-rated.

This summer I plan on splitting my time between working in Columbus and working in Cleveland.

As far as what kids should do over the summer, I feel like it is up to them. I have worked every summer since my junior year of high school. But that was because I wanted money to spend on trips to the Cedar Point Amusement Park and other fun places. I feel like kids are expected to have fun during the summer, and if they do decide to do something responsible too, they need to not overburden themselves. Summer is about letting all the stress go.

Recently due to the pressure to build a strong resume, I have been spending my summers working and doing several internships at a time and the result is a stressful summer, just as stressful as the school year. When it comes to internships, one at some point is great, maybe even a couple. However, one every summer is not necessary. Take a break because having fun is part of being young too, and you will have years to work as some suit’s coffee retriever but never enough time to go to the beach.

In my opinion, summer is a time for kids to just chill. No tests to worry about, no projects to work on over the weekend, no grades to freak out over. Summer is the greatest time of the year because there are no worries. Everyone loves the weekend right? Well summer is nothing more than a kid’s two and a half month weekend.

Even my summers, which are packed full with all kinds of lacrosse tournaments and football practices, are the best part of every year. If teenagers want to work to earn a little extra cash, then that is up to them. Kids should make their summer what they want it to be, not what parents think it should be. Kids have adults telling them what to do for 7 hours a day, 9 months out of the year. Just give us a month or two to do what we enjoy.

I believe that having a job is a good way to earn experience points. By the end of my senior year, I was anxious to become more disciplined and get used to working long hours. There is something to be gained from having that kind of responsibility (like the joys of hard-earned spending money), but in the end I feel like I would be just as ready to go into a job the year after or even later. In my experience, the need to work comes with maturing. A kid’s eventually going to work, whether they’re pushed into having a job earlier or not. If I had to name a starting point, definitely by the time they’re a college student.

And once college starts, there are many interesting internship possibilities. I would get long lists of opportunities from my school every month and they required no financial support from the parents. Whether it’s a paid internship or not, having something to do for the summer is important and feels good.

This summer I’m doing corporate design, animation, and video work. And I might be going to San Francisco for an animation residency in August!

I’m going to school out of the country, so I won’t be traveling much this summer. I was considering a job as a nanny out of state, but because this is my last summer at home before such a big move, I thought it would be better to stay in Cleveland. Besides maybe weekend trips with friends, I’ll be home working. This is my first summer since I started high school where I don’t have any set plans. For the past three summers, I’ve been a camp counselor at my school. Last summer, I added a summer internship at a hospital and a workout plan to earn gym credit. This summer, I’m planning on waitressing and babysitting as much as I can to make money to take to college.

In a way, it’s nice to have so few concrete plans. I spent all of high school worrying about college and wanting to make sure I did everything that was expected to get into a selective school: I volunteered, I interned, I went on way too many college visits. While these experiences were definitely worthwhile, I’m looking forward to a summer without any expectations.

My friends are traveling and working. I anticipate we’ll all be spending a lot of time together before we all part ways. Some play sports, so they have summer practices or jobs as coaches for younger kids. Since we’ll all be graduating seniors, we’ll have a ton of graduation parties to go to together.

Even though no explicit plans are in place, I expect that I’ll be spending a lot of time with my family. I’m the oldest child, and I know my parents are really dreading when I leave for school in September. Because my mom is a teacher, she’s home during the summer, which is nice. My brother and sister are younger than me, too, so hopefully I’ll be able to spend some time with them before I move away.

Mindy Gallagher is the Social Media Manager for Your Teen Magazine. She is the assistant coach for the girls’ lacrosse team for Solon High School in Ohio.

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