'I thought my summer job was a punishment'


The long summer holidays. You've got weeks and weeks before school/college/university starts. So should you get a summer job to keep you busy?

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey reckons more teenagers should take on holiday jobs to gain "essential skills" and help prepare them for the workplace later in life.

Do you agree? Do summer jobs give you useful skills, or are they just a means to make some money?

Here's what some BBC News readers had to say about their experiences of summer jobs.

'I was spoilt and saw it as a punishment!'

Image source, Melissa Stringer
Image caption,
Melissa Stringer's parents insisted she got a job every summer - she resented them at first but is grateful now

My parents worked really, really hard to get where they are - as a result I had ballet classes and a pony and was thoroughly spoilt! Because I'd grown up with that, my parents wanted to slap me back to reality. They'd created a monster and then they had to try and discipline her.

So I had summer jobs since the age of 13 in waitressing, preparing food for a cafe, ironing, mucking out horses, and later, bar work. I had some really horrible jobs. At the time I didn't need the money, and thought it was a punishment. I resented it until I graduated from university, so it was a long period of resentment! But I respect my parents for sticking with it and making me do it.

When I went back to school after the summer I felt I'd grown in maturity and had a new appreciation for my teachers and lessons. I think this was invaluable training: dealing with difficult customers, learning to work in a team, grafting hard - all excellent training for my first jobs in the City, and now, I'm running a start-up. I'd absolutely recommend others to have a summer job, regardless of their financial situation.

Melissa Stringer, 31, fintech expert, from Scarborough, now living in London

Image source, Ben Wharton
Image caption,
Ben Wharton says he learnt valuable lessons doing his holiday job that he carries with him today

From my early teenage years, my parents encouraged me to learn the value of earning my own money and encouraged me to get a summer job. I spent numerous summers on this one farm working, from picking fruit/vegetables to operating machinery. It made my summers more fun and more prosperous. It instilled in me from an early age that if you work hard you will reap the rewards.

That first summer when I was working I bought my own phone for the first time. The value I had buying it for myself was astronomical. It also taught me the importance of punctuality. The farmer wanted milk at a particular time. My job at the moment is very heavy with deadlines and being punctual and delivering reports to clients. It made me realise there's so much more to a job than just going to work and getting paid at the end of it.

Ben Wharton, 24, hedge fund accountant, from Cork, now living in Sydney

Summer jobs in my experience never shaped my career or my aim but they did teach me more about the "working world". From my experience with friends of mine in high school, summer jobs were to get money to enjoy summer more - to go swimming, to theme parks, cinemas, paintballing etc.

Luke Osbaldeston, warehouse operator, Birmingham

Image source, Emily Carter-Weston
Image caption,
Emily Carter-Weston started work as a teenager, while her friends were on holiday or off travelling

I spent my summers from 16 to 22 working in various jobs. It hasn't influenced my career at all but my jobs in hospitality doing waitressing and then bar work are what really shaped me - building up a tolerance to challenging clients and people who aren't very nice!

I feel like I missed out on the summers enjoyed by most teenagers, but some of us aren't fortunate enough to spend months not working. I've not had any time off work since I was 16. I felt like I was watching people travelling on gap years. In my gap year I worked four jobs and did an extra course.

But having control of my finances from a young age has given me an advantage. I've been saving for my house deposit since I was 19 and am buying my first home next year.

Emily Carter-Weston, 23, works for a property website, Stourbridge

Image source, Thomas Castle
Image caption,
Thomas Castle's summer internship has taken him to Mumbai

I think it is very important to undertake summer jobs as not only are they valuable for learning important and varied skills but also can look great on a CV. I have always tried to undertake paid/unpaid internships mixed with local jobs such as bar work. This summer I'm currently undertaking a summer internship for a finance company based in Mumbai. This has been a real step outside of my comfort zone, but the relationships I've built and life lessons I've learnt have been invaluable.

Thomas Castle, 20, student from Reading, currently working as an intern in Mumbai

Image source, Liberty O'Hagan
Image caption,
It's not always that easy to get a summer job, says Liberty O'Hagan

I think summer jobs are a great way for all students to be proactive and motivated throughout the long summer breaks. But I think there needs to be much more acknowledgment that many employers see student summer jobs as a waste of their resources to train them up for them to then return to university. They feel you're only home for a short while so turn you away.

I've been lucky to be welcomed back to summer jobs in my home town of Worthing, but for other students who may be returning to a small town or village with little employment opportunities, it is difficult. There's an impression you can go home for the summer and find a job and it's not always that easy. On the flipside, I've been turned away from jobs in Bristol where I'm at uni, because they say, "Oh you have so much holiday time, you're gonna be away loads."

Liberty O'Hagan, 20, student from Worthing

Mostly you're just a mindless drone given tasks that in no way help your development, but in the end it's whatever funds the summer.

Jack Salmon, student who works part-time for a creative technology agency, Leicester

Image source, Solveiga Galatiltyte
Image caption,
Solveiga Galatiltyte's first summer job gave her a strong work ethic

My first summer job was as a cleaner when I was 16 - it taught me that I need to study and work hard. It also taught me not to be ashamed of working as a cleaner and to not judge people according to their job title. Second summer job was in sales/marketing (pop-up product promotions in shops) - I learned to be bubbly with strangers and to be confident in approaching people. It also taught me that managers tend to give conflicting directions!

Solveiga Galatiltyte, 28, data operator, Manchester

For most students at or wanting to go to university, summer jobs are almost a must - particularly if your parents aren't picking up the slack between the Maintenance Loan and the actual cost of living at university (basic food, housing and bills alone can be double the "baseline" maintenance offering - let alone the "social side" of university). I started work at 13, and worked full time 9-5 in the summer between Years 11 and 12 in order to save to buy a car and to put some money in the bank for uni.

I think that having experience on a CV will help someone get considered for a role - I've seen others with no work experience but excellent grades get turned down for some entry-level roles at 22. I learnt a lot in every job I have had: managing customer expectations, attention to detail, dedication amongst so many more key transferable skills that I don't think I could have learnt even half as well in a classroom.

Abbie Wiles, student from Peterborough