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Working Hard? Or, Hardly Working?

Dawn Zinkewich

Took dead alewives off a beach. Packed crackers in a factory. Cut threads off of fluffy toilet seats in a factory. Made thousands of bows, earrings and bead necklaces to help support the family. Sorted shell casings at a bullet factory. Bussed tables. Waitressed. Cleaned up {insert waste of choice} for a veterinarian. Washed pots, pans and dishes at a restaurant. De-thorned roses at a flower shop. Sandwich artist. McDonald's.

And, yes, those are some of the character-building opportunities had by Prosek's best and brightest when they were young. We call them "dirty jobs." It's been our experience that employees who've had a "dirty" or "grubby" job when they were young are usually hard-working, roll-up-their-sleeves, results-oriented achievers when they're old(er).

A recent piece on by Melanie Howard entitled "Every Teenager Should Be Required to Work a Grubby Job" casts a spotlight on the new generation and part-time work experience. In the piece, it states that between 1990 and 2012, the percentage of high schoolers with a part-time job dropped from 32% to 16%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

There are lots of reasons for this decline—the economy or parents "wanting more for their kids"but the fact is that teens are foregoing those part-time dirty jobs in favor of more prestigious experiences. Howard mentions elite sports camps, international study abroad and internships as examples.

Regardless of socioeconomic status, teens today should understand the value in working a non-glamorous part-time jobit's all about hard-work, responsibility and learning humilityto become a well-rounded adult. Sure, studying abroad will give you the opportunity to see the world, but a dirty job will give you the opportunity to really see the world. What was your dirty job? End of Story

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