Can you feel the heat? Spring Break is over, Summer is coming, and your teenager needs to make a plan about how to make the summer productive and avoid bum status. In lieu of summer studies, working, interning, or volunteering are great ways for your teen to mature and stay productive. Three primary benefits to working over the summer are:
- Making money
- Building a resume
- Serving others
Hopefully, your teen will find motivation from one or all of these benefits.
This is the green stuff your teenager always asks to borrow (or take, really) from you. Teens should try working a summer job so they can see how good it feels to earn their own dough and also learn about responsibility with money. They need to learn how to budget and save before they get to college, alone and free, and experience the infamous bank account overdraft.
Financial advisor Dave Ramsey shares some advice on how to teach your teenagers about budgeting. He says to work out a plan with your teens, not for them. Find out what they want to spend money on and for what they want to save up. Write it out with them, and guide them if they get off track with extreme spending in one area. According to Ramsey, if they set a savings goal, this teaches them vision, patience, and responsibility: vision for what is important enough to save up for, patience to save the money, and responsibility that will carry over into other aspects of their lives, such as school work or even driving. That would be a good thing.
It may seem a little soon for a teen to be building a work resume, but in light of college applications it is definitely beneficial. Colleges look beyond students’ grades at facets like extracurricular activities and summer jobs. CollegeBoard says, “It’s all about what you’ve gained, what you’ve learned, and how you communicate that.” Colleges want to know how students’ jobs and out of school experiences have affected them and what they have learned, and writing a resume is a way to express this information.
According to CollegeBoard, colleges are looking for traits like leadership, initiative, and a sense of social responsibility. All of these qualities are learned or strengthened by working a summer job.
For students planning to go to work right out of high school, building a resume is just as, if not more, important than it is for those planning to go to college. Having work experience is impressive, and knowing how to display it concisely on paper while highlighting one’s strengths is even more impactful.
A few important sections to include on a resume are: 1) name and contact info, 2) objective, 3) work/volunteer experience, 4) extracurricular activities, 5) education, and 6) skills. Highlight the most impressive accomplishments at the top (high GPA, unique skills). CollegeBoard writes more about how to create a resume here. Also, Monster.com explains how to create your very first resume with little job experience to speak of.
I speak from personal experience when I say teens are consumed with their own lives. My world opened up as I got older and started to notice and care about other people. Instead of focusing on what is happening in the mirror, on my phone, or in the two-foot-radius circle around myself, I can now zoom out and focus on serving. Life should not be about, “How is the world affecting me today?” I think we should focus on, “How am I affecting the world today?”
Just look at how popular the “selfie” is on social media. We need to teach our teens to look beyond self. We can beat them over the head with a lecture as much as we want, and we can even lead by example, but until they actually experience the reward of serving others, they will not quite get it. Sure, they may only be serving ice cream if that is their summer job, but ice cream makes a lot of people happy.
Whether they choose to work for money, intern, or volunteer over the summer, teenagers will still be doing work that extends beyond themselves, or in other words, serving. They will learn that there is a big world outside of their little one.
Taking an unpaid summer internship may be an option. Benefits to your teen include: applying school knowledge to real-world work, enhancing his resume and references, experiencing an industry to see if he enjoys that line of work, and networking and learning from more experienced employees. Colleges will be impressed, and so will future employers.
The ultimate way to serve over the summer is to volunteer. The reward does not come in the form of a check but in the gratitude of those being served. Your teenager may even discover a cause he is passionate about.
Ideas for your teenager’s summer
- Lawn care
- Babysitting and Petsitting
- Food services
- Web development
- Medicinal research
- Mom or Dad’s office
Check out this internship website for listings of summer internships near you in every field of interest.
- Summer camp or kids’ sports
- Animal shelter
- Hospital or nursing home
- Food bank
Check out this volunteer website to help your teen find a volunteer opportunity in your area that fits his interests.