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Summer is officially here. For college students, it started more than a month ago. And for high-school students, it began just a few days ago.

That means a lot of people are looking for work, and that’s good, because companies across every sector of the economy are looking for help. This juxtaposition of demand and supply is a positive thing because, as we’ve noted many times in the past, summer jobs — often the first jobs for a great many teenagers — are critically important for these individuals, the companies that hire them, and the region’s economy as a whole.

In short, these jobs help introduce people to the world of work, to companies in this area large and small, and, perhaps, to relationships that can last years, decades, or even a lifetime.

Which is why businesses should create such opportunities, if they can. And, in this time of workforce challenges, most of them can — and they are.

No matter where you end up in life — professionally, geographically, or otherwise — you remember your first job. And your second. And your third. But especially your first.

In this market, it might be working the counter at Friendly’s making Fribbles. Or bagging groceries at Big Y. Or working one of the carny games at Six Flags. Or working at one of the farms in Hadley, Hatfield, or East Longmeadow.

In each case, skills are learned, and work habits are developed. Young employees learn about the need to be on time, work beside others, and operate as part of a team. These employees learn not only from their supervisors, but from everyone around them.

The work may not always be fun and exhilarating, but it puts money in one’s pocket and helps keep him or her out of trouble.

As for college students looking to earn some money between semesters, summer jobs can and often do provide more than that. In many cases, jobs or internships can introduce them to careers and companies they can work for in the years to come.

Time and again, we’ve read and heard stories about young people who were undecided about what they wanted to do career-wise and were put on a path — or a different path than the one they were on — because of a summer job or internship at an accounting firm, marketing firm, or even a law firm.

These stories relate the importance of summer jobs — be they first jobs or someone’s fifth or sixth — to creating real opportunities, for both employees and employers.

Summer jobs have always been important, but in this climate, when businesses of all kinds and sizes are often desperate for help, and when many young people are trying to enter the workforce and perhaps start down the path to a career, they are more important than ever.