3 Vital Skills You Picked Up From Your Teenage Summer Jobs

3 Vital Skills You Picked Up From Your Teenage Summer Jobs

July 13, 2015
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We all remember our teenage summer jobs with great nostalgia or severe regret.

Whether you were developing your burger flipping technique at McDonald’s, perfecting the Dairy Queen ice cream cone curl, or mowing lawns with the greatest level of precision, you can thank your summer jobs for allowing to get to this very point in your career. Your summertime gigs gave you vital work experience necessary to open up future employment opportunities.

Sure, you probably don’t include skills on your resume like “proficient in breaking up fights at summer camp” or “excellent t-shirt folding technique”, but these jobs taught you a lot more than you are giving them credit for.

Here are some summer hustle skills you acquired while on the job as a teenager.

1. Working as part of a team

Working at your summer gig was probably the first place you got a real taste for what it was like to work as part of a team. Sure, you may have played sports or been in band, but a work team brings its own dynamics to the table. Money is at stake, so everyone has a lot more skin in the game. If you had beef, you had to squash it fast, and I’m not talking about those burger patties. Whether you were serving customers at a restaurant or landscaping rich people’s yards, your team members depended on you, and you on them, to do your job and do it well.

The ability to work part of a team is so vital in every workplace that we don’t even put this skill on our resumes anymore. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts is so true when it comes to a work team.

2. Leadership

Some of us are born leaders. We were called “bossy” as children, but we knew how to move a group of people to do what we wanted or needed done. For the rest of us, this is a learned trait, and something you may not realize you picked up at your summer job. If you were a camp councilor, you probably got a crash course in how to rally the troops (children), and realized it was like herding cats. Or maybe you had to oversee a group of fellow student house painters, ensuring safe ladder-usage and that no one got high off of paint fumes (is that still a thing?)

Effective leadership is a highly valuable skill. There are so many leaders out there that shouldn’t be in leadership positions. When you are called to lead at work, whether formally or informally, channel your inner teenager.

3. Problem-Solving

What job is without problems? Surely not your summer job. Maybe you put pickles on that burger when the customer specifically asked you not to (and they are freaking out), or the kids you’re babysitting are engaged in the most epic fight of their little lives. You learned first and foremost, when a problem arises, stay calm. You can’t think clearly through sheer and utter panic. Then you diffused the situation, by apologizing to the irate customer and promising to get a fresh pickle-free burger right away. Or separating the tyrannical tots and airing their grievances.

Unless you are dealing with human lives (which most of us in the corporate world, are not), the problems you face day-to-day are not life or death. So you can still apply what you learned as a teenager – stay calm, fix the problem.

Summer hustles were so much more than just some cash to fund your fun during the rest of the year. They provided you with a foundation of valuable skills that you can carry with you through the rest of your career.

What skills can you thank your summer job for that I didn’t mention? Would love to hear your war stories of summertime past.

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