TITLE: No Summer Job? Learn How to Program AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 23, 2017 2:04 PM DESC: ----- BODY: The article Why Aren't American Teenagers Working Anymore? comments on a general trend I have observed locally over the last few years: most high school students don't have summer jobs any more. At first, you might think that rising college tuition would provide an incentive to work, but the effect is almost the opposite:
"Teen earnings are low and pay little toward the costs of college," the BLS noted this year. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Elite private universities charge tuition of more than $50,000.
Even in-state tuition at a public universities has grown large enough to put it out of the reach of the typical summer jobs. Eventually, there is almost no point in working a low-paying job; you'll have to borrow significant amount anyway. These days, students have another alternative that might pay off better in the long run anyway. With a little gumption and free resources available on the web, many students can learn to program, build websites, and make mobile apps. Time spent not working a job but developing skills that are in high demand and which pay well might be time spent well. Even as a computer scientist, though, I'm traditional enough to be a little uneasy with this idea. Don't young people benefit from summer jobs in ways other than a paycheck? The authors of this article offer the conventional thinking:
A summer job can help teenagers grow up as it expands their experience beyond school and home. Working teens learn how to manage money, deal with bosses, and get along with co-workers of all ages.
You know what, though... A student working on an open-source project can learn also how to deal with people in positions of relative authority and learn how to get along with collaborators of all ages. They might even get to interact with people from other cultures and make a lasting contribution to something important. Maybe instead of worrying about teenagers getting summer jobs we should introduce them to programming and open-source software. -----