Part-Time Work Versus Internships: Which One is Better for Your Teen?

Oct 23, 2017 2 min read

When we were young, our first jobs put gas in our cars and bought us movie tickets or milkshakes. But even if our work required filling ice cream cones or busing tables, we walked away with so much more than just a paycheck.

A recent study by The Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights the benefits of teen work, whether it’s a part-time job, an internship or a volunteer gig. Early work experience means a person is more likely to get work in the future. Plus, jobs build confidence, knowledge and skills — not just workplace skills but also life skills, like taking initiative, learning to work on a team and problem-solving.

Your teen might be ready for that first job or internship, but how do you know which one to choose? The answer depends on your kid’s goals, available time and circumstances.

Long-term Goals

Does your teen already have ideas about what to do for a living as an adult? That’s an important factor. Some kids might not have a clue or will change their minds frequently. That’s OK; they’re young! Others, however, might have a clear vision. If your teen knows or has a general idea, an internship in that field might be best.

Some opportunities offer a low wage or a stipend. See if the internship qualifies for school credit. Schools often have mentorship programs that pair students with entrepreneurs and experts in the community. Of course, your teen may even be able to find an entry-level job that will be a great résumé builder.

If your teen aims to learn a skilled trade, find out if his or her school partners with a community vocational or technical college that offers courses for credit. Getting started early will put your teen ahead of the game and offer valuable connections for job opportunities.

Other Commitments

Take the time available for work into consideration. If your teen has a rigorous sports practice schedule, works an extracurricular role (like school paper or yearbook staffer) or takes a heavy load of Advanced Placement classes, adding a big commitment like a part-time job might not be feasible. An internship that requires work just once a week will still provide experience. Your teen could also consider volunteering a few regular hours at a shelter, nonprofit organization or other community resource.


Each teen’s circumstances will be different. A part-time job helps cultivate a good work ethic, but it also brings in valuable income and gives kids some of their first lessons in money management. If these things are important to your family, make a part-time job a priority. The income can subsidize free-time activities, pay for a first car and insurance, or accumulate in savings for college or a first apartment. Earning cash for these goals can be a valuable, empowering experience that sets kids up for a lifetime of financial success.


With the right guidance, your teen will be on the way to finding a valuable and rewarding opportunity. Your agent is here to help you and your teen - contact your Farm Bureau agent to create and implement a plan for your family’s financial goals.

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