Getting a summer job, even a McJob, can help a teenager's career prospects, a new University of British Columbia study has found.
"Parents may think that their kids could do better than a job at the local fast food joint. But our study shows even flipping burgers has value — particularly if it leads to part-time work later during school term," co-author of the study Marc-David L. Seidel said in a press release.
The study says teens who work part-time jobs progress to better-suited careers because early exposure to work helps them focus on their preferences, work on skills, acquire references and learn how to job hunt.
Working during the school year helped 15-year-olds learn to better manage their time. The study saw benefits for those who worked up to 33 hours a week during the school year, or 43 hours during the summer.
The study is based on data involving 246,661 Canadians who took part in Statistics Canada's Youth in Transition Survey. It looked at their work history over a 10-year period beginning when they were 15 and ending in 2009.
"Adolescent labour has been stigmatized as exploitative with many parents opting to put their kids in summer camp rather than summer jobs," Seidel said. "However, our research shows that working can offer educational and developmental opportunities that prepare adolescents for the real world."
The study appears in the journal Research in the Sociology of Work.