Non Traditional Summer Jobs For Teens Are Of Value

by Dr. Karen Ruskin on May 25, 2015

Brenda, Winget, RuskinDr. Karen Ruskin, known as “the voice of reason”, and Larry Winget, a self proclaimed “irrational speaker” debated on FOX News Channel’s ‘Your World With Neil Cavuto’, again… This time, the topic: Non Traditional Vs Traditional Summer jobs for teens. Brenda Buttner was in the chair for Neil. The question posed: is a non traditional summer job for teens of value? Dr. Ruskin says; yes. What does Larry say?

Larry does not address the question as an option and rather his focused point during our interview was that teens need to work, asserting that teens do not want to work. In my humble opinion, although it is true that some teens are not stepping up to the plate, it is certainly not a statement of fact for all teens. If I look through my professional lens in terms of what I am seeing in my work as a Psychotherapist and Family Therapist, many of the teens I work with have valuable non traditional work lined up for the summer. The adults I work with share with me what their teens have set up for the summer and I am hearing of a wide variety of non traditional as well as traditional jobs. In addition, if I look through my personal lens in terms of what I am seeing around me as a parent myself, as I see what my own child is up to and his friends, what my nieces are up to, and my friends’ teens have lined up for the summer; I see before my eyes many teens with summer work lined up, and it is fabulous non traditional jobs indeed, of value.

Dr. Karen Ruskin VS. Larry Winget

Unfortunately, Larry’s main point throughout the debate was to blast teens with his usual slant of negativism when talking about people. “People are idiots and I can prove it” and “Shut up stop whining and get a life” are two of his books, yes, those are the actual titles. The books are pointed out to display that this article I have written that you are reading, is not intended nor inferred to make a negative commentary on Larry, with all sincerity, that is not how I operate. Rather, the books are mentioned to display that they are symbolic for and consistent with his philosophy, of which he demonstrated during this interview being addressed in this article. In contrast, my philosophy through the lens of my experience as a Psychotherapist in my work with couples, families, and individuals, children and adults – holds by contrast the belief in people’s abilities, the belief that people have at their base and core; intelligence. Since 1993 I have been counseling, and time and time again I meet hard working, positive thinking people, including teens.

Larry’s stance is that “people are idiots” and “stop whining” – this mentality showed during this debate where he spent a portion of the debate whining (ironic) that I spoke over him instead of bringing points for the listener to chew on to the table (lol, it is a debate after all and that happens in a debate sometimes, for not everyone can simply shut up and listen to his speech when it is what I believe to be an inaccurate assertion). I understand where his whining is coming from, it stems from the fact that he had no other material. Oh well. I found it disappointing to hear his rant about how horrible teens and parents are (even though I know that indeed is his philosophy, or perhaps his personal/professional non traditional branding- ironic again). Although that may be the case for some, there are so many teens and parents who do not fit his profile brand. I would think some teens and parents who work hard would find his assertions either offensive or humorous, but untrue for them for he does not speak for all humans, and yet communicates that he does in his assertion that “people are idiots”.

FOX News: Your World With Neil Cavuto With Dr. Karen Ruskin

In this article below you will find the talking points I asserted while on ‘Your World With Neil Cavuto’. In addition, you shall find below further details to provide the reader with the opportunity to learn more about my belief that non traditional jobs are indeed of value. I provide this article knowing that there are some people who find this topic of interest and truly wish to learn more. Thus, I hope you find this write-up of value.

There Is Value In A Non Traditional Job – Should Teens Work Over The Summer?

There’s value in a traditional job, just as there’s value in not having a traditional job. To suggest there’s no value in a non traditional job in comparison to a traditional job is ignorant actually. To suggest a cookie cutter approach to all teens in their summer work choices and thus that only a traditional job is of value for teens over the summer is at the least; ignorant, and thus lacking in knowledge, awareness and understanding. And at the worst; denying the truth and thus the facts as they are. I asserted this point while on air.

In my opinion, not having a traditional job over the summer for teens is of GREAT value from my perspective as a Psychotherapist/Parenting Educator. From the words of an 18 year old who shared with me that not having a traditional job is of great value, who will be teaching inner city children science this summer (unpaid, a stipend to live), she stated to me: “a non traditional job gives you the same opportunities as a traditional summer job and more”.

Provided below are a few reasons why having a non traditional job holds value. And again, this is not to say that holding a traditional job is NOT valuable. Rather, my assertion and position is that both hold value. Today’s blog is simply to focus specifically on why holding a non traditional job is of value to further the conversation and my point during my debate that aired earlier this evening on 5/25/15.

Emotional Growth

Emotional growth – The emotional growth that occurs when not having a traditional job cannot be ignored. Whether paid or unpaid (e.g., summer educational and personal developmental programs, volunteering, summer camp-part play/part work depending on the teen’s age, meeting people unlike yourself for example when working with underprivileged youth, research position). The emotional growth that occurs just during the finding/interview process to discover a non traditional job must not go ignored. For example, a teen I know who reached out to the director of a program within a hospital stated her interest in a particular program they have, and asserted that she would like to volunteer over the summer. This ultimately resulted in her having the opportunity this summer to work on creating activities for an APP. As a teen to have an interest and then seek out where one’s interest can be utilized is very powerful emotionally contributing not only to one’s self worth, it contributes to one’s experience that one person alone can make a difference.

Leadership Qualities – Motivation, Passion, Risk Taker, Outside Of The Box Thinker, Vision

Leader -Internships is a fine example of a non traditional job which shows signs of leadership, when it is something you have searched for. Whether the teen receives payment or if it is unpaid, or not paid but receives a stipend to live – either way, the internship, is a great example of a non traditional summer job and thus outside of the box thinking. Outside of the box thinking, having motivation and passion for something, being a risk taker are key traits in a leader. These traits are often discovered about one’s self and recognized in non traditional experiences.

solo on cavutoTo have a self actualization experience that one has such a passion for something that they are willing to put themselves out there and take a risk, and not get paid anything if much, is an enriching experience of which many adults are lacking. Which is another reason why I am very excited about the opportunity to have spoken on FOX News Channel’s Your World With Neil Cavuto this evening. I find it of great value to touch the lives of the youth population to remind them not to allow the linear thinking of some adults to stop them from their outside of the box non traditional job thinking. What is another quality of a leader? Having a vision and acting on that vision. During my keynote speech for the American Association For Marriage And Family Therapy a few months ago, I gave a speech on leadership for the leadership symposium. It is traits such as having a vision and acting on that vision, taking a risk, not allowing the naysayers to stop you, outside of the box thinking, motivation, passion, not giving up – that are key traits of a leader.

What Really Is Work?

What is work? In a time where so many adults have been laid off from traditional jobs, sadly there were some that experienced a deer in headlights reaction. Simply; they froze. Many continued to look for traditional jobs for that is all they knew. These adults were thinking inside of the box. It is those adults who were extremely stressed, and as such ended up in my office receiving counseling. For their lack of employment was not only affecting their personal mental health and wellness and fear for how they were going to support themselves, it was affecting their marital relationship and parenting and fear of how they were going to provide for their family. A loss of a traditional job injured the inner spirit of many for their identity was wrapped up in their job. Behaviors such as; short temper, emotional eating, excessive drinking of alcohol… were just but a few negative behaviors of which resulted from feeling stuck and not in control of their life of those of whom were laid off from their traditional jobs. In contrast, adults who thought outside of the box, adults who considered non traditional job options were those of whom felt more in control of their life and their circumstances, thereby creating an option for themselves (e.g., creating their own business).

It is the big idea person that is often recognized in adulthood, that is created in youth. As a teen, being able to experience the belief in the possibility and attempt to seek out the “what if” in one’s years when creativity, dreams, passions, vision, and enthusiasm and belief still in the possibility of what if and what can be exists – being able to have that nurtured is a gift. So, I am here to say to parents; nurture your teen’s non traditional job interest simply by being supportive of it. Saying: “great idea”, is a basic and yet powerful way a parent can be supportive and nurture a teen’s vision of and choice to have a non traditional summer job. And, is a non traditional summer job a job? Is it work? Oh yes it is.

What Type Of Experiences Will Increase Our Earning Power, Success, Self Worth and Fulfillment?

Earning power, success, self worth and fulfillment are improved significantly by exploring through non traditional means. Why you ask? The answer is: when we control what is in our control we feel, well, more in control of our life. And the fact is, we cannot control what others say or do, only what we say or do. For the open mind, the creative brain becomes the achieved self, the outside of the box thinker, the big thinker, the professional risk taker in years to come.

“Me-Me” Self – Entitled Culture VS. Consider The Needs Of Others

Considering the needs of others – Is a great example of a non traditional job. We are living in such a “me me” climate/culture of self-entitlement where too many believe that it’s all about them and they get to have what they want when they want it. Sadly that leaves out the consideration of others feelings, and the needs of others, which not only hurts others, it also depletes the potential for self and who one can be and has the potential to be. It is imperative if we are to turn around this self absorbed self-entitled culture, that one positive step in the right direction is to view the teen who is considering the needs of another for a summer job – of value. Rather than looking at it as; not of value.

For an example, I know a teen whose mother was very concerned about how she was going to navigate getting all of her younger children to each of their perspective summer camp programs, and special educational needs appointments over the summer while she was at work. The oldest teen who now has a driver’s license volunteered, knowing that his father is going to be out of town for much of the summer. This young man will be transporting his younger siblings to their appointments, to their camp, and will be around to let in the helping agents into the house and be there while his younger autistic sibling receives the special educational programming that is set up for the summer. Is this a non traditional job? Sure it is. Is it of value? Sure it is.

Another example of a non traditional job is a teenager who decided that she wants to aide in care giving for her sick grandparent. Her grandfather is dying of cancer and although has hired aides in the home, she felt that for him to have a family member there for several hours throughout the day to talk with, play games with watch TV with, and read to would, as she said: “allow him to die with dignity”. Rather than putting him into hospice and not having family there during the day as readily as can be in the home, they have in home hospice along with her, the teenage granddaughter by his side. For both of her parents work traditional jobs that do not allow them the luxury of taking off as many hours and days as they would like.

Do these teens not exist? Oh yes they do! Are what each of these teens doing not “work” and not of value? What is defined as work? It is certainly work and it is certainly of value and will certainly affect them in the future in terms of the choices they make in terms of employment. For it is all of our experiences, especially the most meaningful ones that affect our adulthood decisions in ways in which one cannot predict now. Though what we certainly can predict is that when you see character like these teens are showing, it is a wonderful thing to see and you don’t have to be a Psychotherapist to know that those qualities are of value in the now and for years to come. These examples are not something to talk negatively about and suggest these teens don’t exist, that the only teens out there are those who are not interested in working. These teens are wonderful examples that I am proud to highlight.

Work – Life Balance And The Importance Of Play

Work- life balance/The power of play- The power of having fun/play is very important for teens. Heck, it is important for adults, and has been lost for far too many adults. Many teens all school year are balancing school work and extra curricular activities, and some have jobs in addition to their job of school. The thing often adults are missing these days is just enjoying and fun free play time. Life is so structured- for teens and adults. To allow teens the gift to have unstructured free play over the summer, will help them as adults in the long run to implement that in their own life. I am not suggesting to just party all summer, no, my suggestion is a work-life balance and play and having fun is a part of that. As I asserted while on air, studies have shown, surveys have reported when interviewing people toward the end of their life, their biggest regret is that they did not make more time to have fun spending time with their family. Therefore, I say, if we are supportive of our teens of today and in fact believe in the power of play and the importance of developing the life skill of balancing fun and work, then that is a life skill to have for, well, a lifetime. Unfortunately too many adults reach to alcohol or other legal or illegal substances as an escape from the day to day stress. In contrast, if as adults we take the time and make the time for healthy fun, manage our work-life effectively, we will be a mentally healthier society. So, starting that life lesson and developing that life skill that many teens instinctively have, and being supportive of that as adults is a wise thing to do, rather than discouraging it.

Examples Of Non Traditional Jobs

Provided below are a few examples of what one may label “non traditional jobs” of teens that I know and am proud of. These are real life non traditional jobs, and these are just but a few, there are many more. For a non traditional job is of value and to say to the contrary is truly lacking in understanding and thereby ignorant.

Unpaid internship – One of the teenagers I spoke with is going to be teaching inner city youth; science. The process alone, to get this inner city teaching job vs the traditional work at a fast food restaurant (for example), is a powerful example of value in which cannot go ignored. She shared with me that she had to write three essays as well as provide her resume. Then, if they were interested in going the next phase of the interview process with her she needed to send a video of herself teaching something to her fellow classmates. Then, in phase three of this interview process if she passed the other two phases was to have a face to face job interview. This teen reported to me that just the interview process alone of that very experience is more valuable then anything one of her close friends experienced when she wanted to work a traditional fast food restaurant job. In addition, this teen shared with me that the opportunity she is going to have in working with people unlike herself and “trying to help kids less fortunate move forward, and making a difference in other people’s lives” is a very valuable experience. I asked her if she was getting paid for this non traditional job. She said she is not receiving a salary but she is receiving a stipend for living.

Research – Another teenager shared with me that she is going to be doing research over the summer at a hospital. I asked if this is the kind of job you get paid for. She explained that some of the older teens get paid and it is unpaid for some of the younger teens, and depending on the particular program is whether a teen of any age gets paid or not. For apparently there are various programs within some of the hospitals for teens to have a non traditional job experience doing research. Another teen I spoke with stated that he is going to be doing research at a college.

College study programs – Several colleges have college study programs. This is another example of a non traditional job.

Fundraising– A teen I know who is going to be taking her first year of college as an opportunity to instead go to another country to teach dance decided to take the summer to work a non traditional job in which she does not get paid for. And that is to fund-raise to help other teens who cannot afford to do the program she is doing, to be able to join the program she is doing the following summer, by receiving the money she raises. This is while she also is going to be helping run the family business. Great example yet again of a non traditional job. Is this of value? I say yes. What do you say?

Umpiring – Umpiring is another example of a non traditional job. Several teenage boys shared with me that they all took a several week course during the school year last year and then took an exam to receive an umpiring certificate. They explained to me that the first 10 games they umpired last Spring/Summer was unpaid. But now that they have experience, they receive payment per game, and they are now the educator of the kids who are doing it for the first time while out on the field. One of these boys while umpiring is also going to be working an additional non traditional job which is to be a counselor in training at a summer camp (CIT). Since he is 14 he is not old enough to be a full counselor yet. Which means that the first half of the day he is with a group of younger kids being a counselor (in training) with an older more experienced counselor, then the second half of the day he is playing sports and other activities with the other CIT’s. Next summer when he is a full counselor, then the entire day he is assigned a group of kids to care for. The non traditional job of umpiring as well as summer camps are great examples of a teen having to experience patience, working hard and progression, planning and thinking in terms of the future (i.e., the next summer).

Work For Free? Government Dependent?

If you noticed, I asked about whether these teens in non traditional summer jobs are getting paid or not. Why did I ask? The answer: we typically define “work” and “job” if it is something we get paid for. The thing is, sometimes we have to get paid less to someday get paid more. I believe there was a time in our culture where teens and adults understood that. I see before me there are some adults and teens of whom do not agree with this philosophy and ultimately end up remaining out of work for they would rather get paid what they feel they “deserve” then work somewhere that does not give them the salary they want. Thereby unfortunately leading some adults to decide to be reliant on the government to pay for them. I find this philosophy concerning and disturbing for that does not lead a person to feel self-empowered. From a mental health and wellness perspective, when one feels a lack of self worth and a loss of control in one’s life, and feels a sense of dependency, it is not uncommon to in turn experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, teens who work a non traditional job whether they are receiving payment, no payment and experience in and of itself, a stipend to live, a small fee… it is each and all of value. What is value? Is it not that you learn something? You have an experience that you carry with you? Whether a traditional or non traditional job- there is value. To infer, suggest, or state a non traditional job holds no value, to state that all teens don’t want to work – is simply ignorant or denying reality; one or the other.

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