Maurice Brown has spent the summer doing something that’s increasingly unusual for American teenagers: going to work.
Brown, 17, works 25 hours a week as a fry cook at a McDonald’s down the street from where he lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts. While classmates were at the beach or the mall, Brown was learning life skills — how to behave in a professional workplace, how to multitask when the lunch rush started, how not to talk back when his managers criticized him. He said he hopes the experience will help him get a job after college. And though the pay was low, he was able to buy his own school clothes and save some money toward a car.
“I was tired of having to wait for my mom and ask her for things,” Brown said.
Research has shown that teenagers — and especially teenage boys — who work are more likely to graduate high school, more likely to go to college and less likely to get into trouble with the law. They also gain valuable work experience that can make it easier to get a job and get promoted more quickly in adulthood. But for a variety of reasons — fewer job opportunities, more emphasis on schooling, changing societal expectations — fewer young people are getting summer jobs.