The summer presents great opportunities to earn extra cash, so Grow asked successful entrepreneurs what they remembered about their own summer jobs, and what they learned from those early gigs about money.
While “Shark Tank” investor and entrepreneur Daymond John was getting a steady paycheck working at a summer camp, for example, he realized he could augment his earnings by playing pool—and winning—on the side. Blogger and philanthropist Heather Spohr, meanwhile, spent one formative summer working several gigs at once: She got paid to babysit, tutor, and umpire girls softball.
“I quickly learned that the harder I worked, the more money I would make,” Spohr says. “I was only 15, but I knew that having my own money would allow me to make no-strings-attached decisions about purchases.”
Here’s what four entrepreneurs say they learned about money from their summer jobs.
“So what did I learn from my first summer job? Number one, I learned the value of doing something you love,” John tells Grow. “I was taking care of special needs kids at a camp [in] upstate New York, and I really loved what I was doing and I was getting paid.”
The camp was located in the middle of the woods, so John didn’t have a way to spend his biweekly paycheck. Instead, he says, “I reinvested in myself. I learned how to play pool really, really well, and I hustled all the other counselors, and I came back home with four times the amount of money that I made that summer.”
Serhant used to work for his father for a dollar an hour over the summer. He recalls, "My dad paid me a nickel a stick [for] picking up sticks in the front yard. It was the worst. I just remember you count those nickels until you hit that one dollar because you didn't want to carry around nickels."
Later, Serhant put in 10-hour days as a contract laborer and got $8 an hour at demolition sites and for doing labor-intensive yard work. "My dad just really wanted my brothers and I to learn the value of a dollar, and the value of using your hands when you work," he says.
As a high school junior, Serhant realized that, to get a good job after graduation, he had to get good grades. "Or," he adds, "if you can't, you become a real estate broker so that you can sell other people really nice houses so that you don't need to go pick up sticks."
"I loved watching my bank account grow. It became an obsession to save," says Fertitta. So he worked two summer jobs at once: swim instructor and front desk clerk.
"The thrill wasn't spending. The thrill was saving," he says.
Spohr's first summer job was actually a series of jobs: She babysat, tutored, and umpired girls' softball. "That first summer working taught me that you get out of a job what you put into it," she tells Grow.
Spohr saved thousands of dollars by the time she entered college, which allowed her to buy new clothes, books, and an occasional drink or two on the weekends.
"I was also a lot more thoughtful about my spending because it was money I'd worked hard for. To this day, I still save and budget like I did when I was 15 years old!"
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