When I was in high school, everybody had a summer job, and we would meet to go to a movie in the evening or the beach on our day off. However, finding a job these days is hard for teenagers. The labor market hasn't fully recovered, so many of the traditional teen jobs are being filled by adults. Now that summer is here, I don't want my kids hanging around the house texting, tweeting, and eating everything in the pantry because they're bored. What else can they do?
1. Volunteer. There is a need in almost every community for volunteers, and I want my kids to give back in some way. Most teens have to log community service hours for various clubs and graduation requirements, and summer is a perfect opportunity to get hours in. Plus, volunteering looks great when applying to colleges or on scholarship applications. Food banks, churches, nursing homes and hospitals are good places to look for volunteer work. DoSomething.org is a cool resource that helps teens find opportunities to "make the world suck less". Yep, that's their motto!
2. Stay (or get) fit. Many kids are involved in year round sports, but if your teen is "off" for the summer, encourage them to start a training group with some of their friends. They could set a general goal, or work towards something more specific, like a charity run. Textplus.com has a list of the six best fitness apps for teens, including Fooducate, which offers suggestions for making healthier food choices. Maybe this will discourage the "bag of chips a day" goal my son seems to have set for himself.
3. Keep learning. Just because it's summer doesn't mean their brain has to turn to mush in front of the Xbox. Maybe your teen could start a journal....or a blog! If your kids want to get a leg up on classes for next year (calculus, anyone?), the Khan Academy is a great resource. Salman Kahn is an amazing young man who has created over 4800 free video lessons on a wide range of academic subjects. Or create a family book club, and choose something everyone can enjoy reading and discussing.
4. Become an entrepreneur. The job market may be slim for teens, but with some effort they can create a job of their own. Kids can talk to neighbors about mowing their lawn, walking their dog, or keeping an eye on their house when they're on vacation. This is a great opportunity for teens to work on marketing themselves, another valuable skill when filling out college and scholarship applications. Plus, they might earn some gas money! Entrepreneur.com has other unique teen business ideas.
5. Find someone to job shadow. This will probably be an unpaid position, but shadowing a professional is a great way to learn about a specific career. My younger son will be "shadowing" one day a week at a local veterinarian clinic this summer. The recently graduated doctor is excited to teach him about the business, and it will be a valuable opportunity for T to see if this is what he really wants to do.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what they do, as long as they get off the couch and stop driving me crazy!