The calendar has turned to mid-May. Winter is a distant memory, and those with events to plan (and that’s most people in business) are already writing e-mails about dates in September, October, or (gulp) beyond.
But first, there’s summer, which is just about here. And when we say ‘summer,’ we’re not referring to the season that starts officially on June 21. The time for summer jobs is already upon us.
Indeed, area college students have taken their last exams, and most have packed up and headed home — wherever that is. Meanwhile, high-school seniors will collect diplomas in a few weeks, and the underclassmen will wrap things up soon after.
In other words, it’s time for area employers large and small to start thinking about the summer and how to create some opportunities for area young people through gainful employment.
We’ve written about this topic often, because it’s an important one. Summer jobs, while sometimes a strain on the budget for a small business, can, and very often do, bring benefits for the employee, the employer, and the region as a whole.
Let’s start with the employee. A job obviously puts needed money in the pocket (and, hopefully, the bank account) of a young person — whether he or she is a high-school junior or a college sophomore — but it does so much more.
It introduces that person to the world of work, if this is their first real job, or it provides them with a new and different experience, if it’s their second, third, or fourth. With each new experience comes opportunities to not only earn money, but develop skills and learn about people and how to work with them.
This is true whether someone is working on the floor for a local manufacturer, on a ride or game at Six Flags, at one of the myriad local restaurants, or at one of the thousands of other small businesses across all sectors of the economy.
As for those employers, by bringing some people on for the summer, they are introducing their company to individuals who just might be lead contributors for years, if not decades, to come.
It happens. In fact, most businesses in this region can tell the story of someone who came on as summer help and was still with that company 20, 30, or even 40 years later.
As for the region, it benefits from summer jobs in a number of ways as well. For starters, when young people have summer jobs, that means they’re not looking for something else to do, which is generally a good thing.
As noted earlier, jobs usually promote responsibility, help develop people skills, introduce and/or reinforce the benefits of teamwork, and so much more. In short, these are learning opportunities as much as they are earning opportunities.
At the same time, summer jobs and internships (almost all of which are now paid positions and therefore jobs) may also introduce some area college students — as well as people from this area going to colleges well outside it — to possible career opportunities within the 413 area code.
Matters are improving somewhat when it comes to the so-called ‘brain drain,’ but still, many young people believe they must look beyond this region to find what they might be looking for. A summer job with the right employer might just alter that mindset.
As we said at the top, summer jobs can be a burden for companies watching the bottom line — and everyone is these days. But for those who have the wherewithal or can somehow find it, these jobs can be game changers in many ways.