Life Skills Every Teen Should Learn this Summer

Andrew C. McMillan
Andrew C. McMillan
High school principal; Ed.D. in Educational Administration

Summer vacation. Two words that are individually epic and, when combined, create a phrase that serves as the motto for teenagers for two-plus months of freedom from school. Summer vacation is a break from the rigor and routine of academia, but it doesn’t have to be a break from learning crucial skills that are both valuable and relevant. This summer, take full advantage of the summer months, and learn, practice, and hone these life skills.

The Importance of Life Skills for Teens

Life skills learned during the summer can help promote independence for teens, prepare them for life after school, and also help with increasing social-emotional learning pathways. The skills and strategies discussed can bring a multitude of benefits to teenagers and have a positive effect on them and society as a whole.

Skills Teens Should Learn this Summer

Summer Employment

Traditionally, the summer rite of passage for teens has been working a part-time job. Recently, as the job market has shifted, many traditional summer employment jobs have either gone away or are now held by recent college graduates or young professionals. This means being hired for seasonal help has become increasingly difficult.

For this reason, understand several simple yet key points of emphasis in applying for jobs: First, dress your best. The expression “dress for the job you want, not the one you have” means regardless of the job you are applying for, dress as best as you can for your first impression. Second, inquire about various types of jobs and have different options. Depending on flexibility, many teens can work multiple jobs during the summer. Finally, be on time! Being early to an interview shows initiative and eagerness to work, while being late could show potential employers a sense of not being dependable.

Practice “Soft” Skills

Recently, many schools across the nation have a renewed focus on skills that every student can master. These real-life, relevant skills are designed to help young people in the workforce and can be used throughout day-to-day interactions. These skills include being able to collaborate with one another; understand problems and develop solutions; practice appropriate workplace mannerisms such as eye-contact and professional language; and demonstrate respect for other cultures, beliefs, and traditions. While working your summer job, practice these skills. Oftentimes, lessons learned during summer employment can carry over into adulthood, with best practices learned during the formative years having lifelong benefits.

Creating a Budget (and Managing It)

Once employed, summer jobs provide a number of benefits for teens. Obviously, the financial impact of having a job provides teens with the financial freedom to gain independence from others. To help make money earned during the summer last, create a budget. There are countless free tools that can help teens track spending, savings, etc. Many financial institutions provide free checking accounts to teens and/or college students, oftentimes with no balance restrictions or overdraft charges. Financial independence learned during these formative summer months can translate into sound money management practices as teens get older.

Be Practical

By nature, teens are resourceful. There is no better time to practice resourcefulness and try new things like the summer. Live in an urban setting with public transport? Get out and explore your communities and cities with public transportation. Familiarize yourself with maps and landmarks while discovering unknown places and history you may not have known existed.

Moreover, take time to learn skills that could prove beneficial down the road. Do you know how to change a flat tire? What to do first when a traffic accident or “fender-bender” occurs? What about phone communication skills? Although we are a society geared toward text messaging and emails, strong communication skills, both in-person and on the phone, are vital. During COVID-19, many job interviews, college admissions interviews, and other pertinent events are happening remotely. Remember to speak clearly, professionally, and with enthusiasm. Also, be yourself!

Time Management/Organization

Time management and organization are not words you often see associated with today’s youth. Unfortunately, all too many times teenagers are labeled as not possessing these two important qualities. All the practical skills and strategies mentioned are pointless without sound organization and time management. Want to build your budget? Organize your finances and understand due dates, pay schedules, etc. Want to work more? Practice effective time management!

Summer months are great for delving into these strategies, honing them, and fine-tuning them without the added pressure of school. Developing and harnessing sound time management and organizational beliefs will only benefit you in the long run.

Ultimately, the summer months are great times for teens and young people to step away and decompress from the academic environment they’ve lived in during the school year. However, the summer months present a myriad of opportunities for teenagers to develop valuable skills that will help them in their return to school, workforce, and in their general day-to-day routines. Make the most out of your summer. Enjoy!

graduate program favicon

Looking for a graduate program?