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Youthentity column: Summer opportunities still exist for high school students

Kirsten McDaniel
For Youthentity

For many teenagers, summers are typically filled with full- and part-time jobs, such as lifeguarding at the local pool, manning ticket sales at the movie theater, and serving at restaurants. This summer will be different, as many industries plan to operate with a slimmed-down staff and, as a result, are unable to offer the same opportunities for high school students.

While jobs for young people may be scarce this summer, opportunities for career development and personal growth still exist — particularly in the self-employment sector.

A few ideas for teenagers looking for ways to make a little extra cash this summer:

• Babysitting and/or general errand-runner. Mature, dependable caretakers are always in demand with harried parents. With many summer camps and other activities on hold, childcare and errand-running are valued services.

• Tutoring. Is your student great at math, playing an instrument, writing or other academic skill? Put their talents to work by teaching peers and younger students who may need a leg up on certain subjects.

• Lawn maintenance. With the up-front investment in a lawn mower and marketing lawn care services to your neighborhood and beyond, landscaping and maintenance services have the potential to keep ambitious students busy.

• Grocery shopping and order pickup. Due to COVID-19, grocery shopping and other retail needs can be an obstacle for susceptible populations.

• Crafts. Does your student have an affinity for at-home craft-making? Hone that skill this summer while learning the ins-and-outs of entrepreneurship and e-commerce by encouraging them to sell and market their crafts on a site such as Etsy.

• Pet-walking and watching. Summer means weekends away — and pets aren’t always invited. Responsible young people can depend on word-of-mouth references to keep them busy in the pet-sitting and exercising department.

• Social media management. Small businesses often don’t have the funds for a full-time social media content specialist. If your student has an affinity for writing and content, this is a skill that can continue into the school year while teaching them to be their own boss.

• Videos and other content creation for small local businesses. Teenagers seem to have an almost inherent knowledge of Tik-Tok and YouTube, two channels increasingly valuable for small businesses.

Summer can also be a time to explore advanced educational opportunities. A number of Ivy League Schools offer tuition-free, self-paced online classes — a terrific option for students who could benefit from exposure to the college experience, or for anyone who aspires to pursue post-collegiate education. Browse and sign up for free online courses from Harvard, Princeton, and other Ivy League schools via ClassCentral.com — classes are reviewed and rated, and can be searched by category (Business, Humanities, Engineering, etc.).

Summer break is also a good time to take stock of what your teenager wants to accomplish next year and set actionable goals. Is your student college-bound? Colorado Mountain College classes (many offered online) are a great option for getting a sense of college-level coursework. Does your student have an interest in trades such as electrical work or carpentry? Begin to outline what that looks like in terms of available trade schools, apprenticeship programs and other career exposure programs (including Youthentity’s Career Academy) — it is truly never too early to plan for the future.

While this summer’s opportunities may be lacking in the standard jobs most often experienced during the high school years, with a little hustle and determination students can make strides toward building lifetime skills, exploring interests and strengths, and creating their own successes.

Kirsten McDaniel is Executive Director for Youthentity. More information at youthentity.org.


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