When I saw the local Shop Rite's ad highlighting their employees who had just graduated from high school, I was delighted.
Many were going on to "higher" education, but all deserved congratulations for studying and working. I remember years ago going to McDonald University outside Chicago where McDonald's trains their managers.
Many of the employees who were training others to be managers actually began their careers as part-time student employees.
They learned to get to work on time, budget their money and their time, and be nice to customers.
Now they were at the top management levels. I am sure Shop Rite employees learn similar skills.
Most people who teach or counsel adolescents believe that if high schools students can work during the summer or the school year, they benefit greatly.
There is something about getting a paycheck, putting some away, and having spending money that strengthens a young person's sense of accomplishment. Work also prepares them to be responsible for their own finances, in college or the workplace.
Although summer jobs may not be as easy to find as before, they are out there for those who persist.
One venue for young people is through the Greenwich High School's Student Employment Service, www.ghs-ses.org. This service posts an amazing array of jobs, in marketing, typing, assisting artists, landscaping, teaching computer skills, baby sitting, and many, many more
Some students worked for us during the summer (after our own children grew up).
One young man helped us repair a little dam, shoveling mud as easily as feathers. He played football at the high school so this got him in shape for the season.
A couple of other boys picked those infernal weeds. The students can be hired on a part-time, weekly, or full-time basis.
We encouraged our children to work.
Back then, delivering the Greenwich Time was a sought-after first job.
The hardest part of that job was collecting money for the paper (and hoping for a tip). No one was ever home, and some customers wanted free papers. So the young carriers learned how important it was to pay bills on time.
Their other jobs were with construction companies, Parks and Recreation, landscaping. One son spent his summer sitting in the booth at Grass Island back when passes were required. A very boring job, but he managed to read many good books.
When our oldest son, a new driver who had just turned 16, skidded into a stone wall on a snowy day (he was not hurt), we told him that he had to pay for the damage.
So he went to work after school and on weekends as a bus boy in a local restaurant. The day he earned enough money to pay for the repair, he quit and said he never wanted to work in a restaurant again.
However, he loved the waitresses and learned how hard people in restaurants have to work.
The irony of that story is that now he is head of a large restaurant chain.
Another son loaned our car to his high school friend when they were on a trip. He was in an accident, no injuries, so we said the same thing to him, "You have to pay for the repairs." He also went to work and eventually repaid us for the damage.
This past week I read an article about the triathlon in Greenwich and one of the participants, who now lives in another part of the country, said that his happiest memories of Greenwich was when he worked at Threads and Treads during high school. What a great memory to have.
I recently complimented a young man working in a local chain store and asked him how he liked working there, he responded, "I like it but I'd rather own the place."
So whether the first job is at McDonald's or a retail store (like my first job in high school), pulling weeds, or baby sitting, go for it, and who knows -- some day you may manage or own the place.
Ann Caron is an author of books on adolescence and a parent-educator. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.