If you’re asking customers “debit or credit” and “booth or table” for the next few months, you probably have some questions for yourself, too, come payday: What should you do with the earnings from your summer job?
Gas money, college textbooks, family bills, side projects and mall temptations are just a few of the expenses that might be on your list. Here’s what three teenagers plan to do with their summer paychecks.
Miyako Handon, 18
The job: Handon has a full-time, paid internship at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. As a media specialist, he helps run one of the World Bank’s Twitter accounts and updates its website.
Handon spent years preparing for this prestigious internship. In high school, he jumped on gigs offered by local programs, including the Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute and Global Kids. He snagged an interview at the World Bank through the Urban Alliance, a program that helps youth find paid internships and other work opportunities.
“Give every experience your all,” Handon suggests to other young workers. “You have to be ready to learn, and you have to take every opportunity, because you’ll never know what you’ll get from it.”
The money: Handon invests about a third of his World Bank earnings in a year-old YouTube series he runs called Taco Talks TV. In it, Handon records video interviews with local musicians, artists and entrepreneurs. Some of his earnings recently went toward an $800 video camera.
Handon also pays his phone bill with his internship money. He spends the rest on fun stuff, including dinners, movies and clothes.
Margie Sosa, 19
The job: Between her freshman and sophomore years at the College of Wooster in Ohio, Sosa is working at a QuikTrip convenience store back home in Chamblee, Georgia. As a sales clerk, she helps customers, works the cash register and cleans. She makes $10 per hour.
Sosa also works as an outreach and program assistant intern at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in Atlanta. This position is unpaid, but upon completion, she’ll receive a $2,600 fellowship from Wooster.
Between QuikTrip and her internship, Sosa works around 40 to 45 hours per week.
The money: Sosa spends her earnings on college-related items, such as textbooks, as well as gas and food for the summer. That way, her parents can focus on paying off bills. “It gives my parents something less to worry about,” she says.
Bailey Steger, 17
The job: Steger works at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay, California. She’s a hostess and runner, meaning she helps waiters and waitresses take food from the kitchen to the diners. She works 12 to 14 hours per week and makes about $11 per hour, plus tips.
The money: When Steger first started working summer jobs, her earnings went toward volleyball camp and fun stuff — “$100 jeans my mom wouldn’t buy for me,” she says. Then her parents told her she’d be responsible for most of her college expenses, apart from tuition. Now she’s saving more. She keeps her base pay in a bank account “so the I’m not constantly looking at it,” she says. She spends the cash tips.
Steger offers advice for other teenagers who will begin working this summer. “Don’t be nervous,” she says. “Everyone has a first job.”