Question: What Should You Do Over The Summer?


With the calendar inching closer to August, which means back to school for many, it’s not too early to think about how your high school students should be spending their future summers.  You might want to file this one away for spring of next year. Based on this NY Times article, there are quite a few benefits to summer employment as a bank teller:

It’s a rare summer job that combines the acquisition of intensely practical knowledge and the opportunity to have conversations about important and personal topics with people two or three times your age.

Interesting to see this research buried in this article about what admissions directors at college look for when it comes to summer experiences:

Jill Tipograph, founder of Everything Summer, a consulting service for families trying to pick the right camp, grew curious about college admissions officers’ view of teenagers’ summer plans, so she and a colleague, Paul Kaser, conducted a straw poll last summer of the gatekeepers at top colleges.

While plenty of parents assume that foreign travel or community service will appeal to admissions officers, the respondents did not rank those activities highest on the list of pursuits that add the most value to applications. Among 14 choices, internships and independent research came out on top, but paid employment was right there in the third spot.

As someone whose summer job (as a golf caddy) had to cover school bills for the next year, I can vouch for the value of paid employment which goes beyond just paying the bills.  What did I learn?

  • Delayed gratification. Since I had to save about 95% of my summer income to cover school bills, I developed a habit of being a “non-shopper” which continues today.
  • Understanding what your customer needs.  Some golfers wanted to chat for the 4-5 hours we looped around the course while others preferred silence.  Some wanted advice on how their putts would roll, while others preferred you just carry their bag.  A good lesson in adapting your service to what the client wants.
  • How to talk business.  Since I was a a business major and many of the members were Wall Street financiers I enjoyed asking lots of questions to understand what they did for a living.