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Get a Job: Experts See Benefits in Service-Sector Summer Employment


NEW YORK - With the end of the school year right around the corner, students and parents are considering how they might spend the summer. And while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a decline in teen employment in the years since the Great Recession, experts say summer jobs should not be overlooked.

Broderick Johnson is co-senior advisor at the Path Forward Coalition, promoting the service sector as a viable source of employment. He said more colleges are considering summer employment when reviewing applications. "We don't necessarily always recognize the important benefits that came with getting that job," Johnson said. "There's many teenagers who join the workforce this summer - will do so in the service industry, for example - where they will start a record of work and earn the support of those who will recommend them for future career opportunities."

According to the National Retail Federation, there are 30 million combined restaurant and retail employees in the country, supporting one-in-four American jobs. A study by Stanford University found a correlation between students' summer employment and higher academic performance.

Robert Doar is the former commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration, and was responsible for then Mayor Michael Bloomberg's job initiative. He now serves as the Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and said service industry jobs in particular teach critical social skills. "Summer jobs provide an opportunity for young people to get certain practices and skills that allow them to be successful in their future - like dependability, showing up on time, being gracious, showing good manners, knowing how to treat a customer," Doar said. "And those things are all some of the most important things in making a person a good employee or a good worker in the future."

Johnson, who is also with My Brother's Keeper Task Force - created to address opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color - added that economically disadvantaged students often see benefits to summer employment beyond making money to cover expenses or pay for college.

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