given the conditions that define adolescence and adulthood in today's society?
To understand the role of work in the lives of adolescents requires answers to questions about the nature of the work that youngsters perform; the characteristics and conditions of the settings in which they labor; the amount of time they devote to their jobs; and the ways in which experiences at work complement or compete with the other demands of the adolescent years (Finch et al., 1997).
Special features of working in adolescence need to be taken into account in considering its consequences for development during this phase of life. In comparison with work by adults, work by young people tends to be more discretionary (i.e., not financially essential), part-time rather than full-time, and unstable, as youngsters move in and out of the labor force in response to changes in the needs of employers, labor market conditions, and shifting circumstances in other arenas of their lives. The number of hours spent working and the scheduling of those hours are apt to change frequently. High school students are more available for employment during the summer (Manning, 1990) and vacation periods than during the regular school year and more during the weekends than weekdays. Nevertheless, about 80 percent of all students work for pay during the school year at some time during their high school years.
In addition to these temporal dimensions of work, particular attributes of work experience may assume special importance for youth. Such attributes include, for example, the extent to which employment enables adolescents to apply what they learn in school or presents them with other learning opportunities; the ways in which their earnings are used; the degree of stressfulness of the work; and the quality of the young people's relationships with their supervisors or other adults in the workplace. Today, the types of jobs that most adolescents in the United States hold are disconnected from what is taught in school, do not systematically teach the job skills necessary for advancement, and provide little meaningful interaction with adult supervisors (Greenberger and Steinberg, 1986).
Relatively little systematic research has addressed the quality of young people's jobs. Through the high school years, adolescents move from informal work, such as babysitting, yard work, and shov-