A major concern of many parents in the summertime is their children – how to get a job, avoid boredom or to stay out of trouble.
That was a concern of my mom when growing up in Palm Springs, which largely became a ghost town in the summer. She wanted me to be productive and didn’t want me loafing around the house. She insisted I get a job. If there were no jobs, I was encouraged to take summer classes. Most often, I got a job busing tables at exclusive restaurants, where I also enjoyed serving customers like J.C. Penney, Doris Day and Paul Harvey.
Later, as a college journalism student, one summer there were no jobs and my morale suffered. So I contacted some former high school teachers for advice. Some were teaching summer school classes, so they were accessible.
One of them asked about my career aspirations, and suggested I go to broadcasting school to get a first-class Federal Communications Commission license. At that time, it was great way for entry into radio (they’re no longer a non-engineer requirement for radio stations). I toured all the southern California broadcasting schools, and selected my best option.
During a six week course, I stayed at the legendary Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood (the school and hotel had an affordable deal for students) and got my license thanks to an electronic theory class at the nearby Don Martin School of Broadcasting. I was immediately in demand at radio stations in small to medium markets as I finished my undergraduate studies.
Candidly, my employment in college taught me as much as my academic studies. Plus, the work experience gave me an advantage over competitors later after I graduated.
But summer jobs in this day and age are hard for kids to find. They face high unemployment rates. Creativity is the ticket to success.
My sense is that it’s vital for a teen’s self esteem to get advice but conduct a job search without parental help. Long-term for your teen’s self confidence, I don’t advise parents to do the actual footwork.
Some ideas are obvious, but here are some reminders that worked for me, including:
- Suggest your teen check around to create a job. Canvass the neighborhood for odd jobs. Can lawns be mowed? Does an elderly neighbor need help?
- Suggest considering volunteer work. It will enhance your child’s self esteem, and will provide valuable experience.
- Teens can contact local businesses and nonprofits, and inquire about being an unpaid intern or volunteer. Whether it’s a nursery, TV station or homeless shelter, some lead to paying positions.
- Students can contact successful businesspeople in their majors asking for a meeting to get advice on their studies or career. (As a junior, a TV station executive invited me to the station that same day for a job interview.)
- Whenever possible, make the inquiry in person. Your child will stand out in the crowd.
- In the event an inquiry doesn’t lead to a job or internship, ask for two referrals. (“What are the names of two people, who might be able to use me?”)
You can’t solve the economy and there aren’t any easy solutions. But with a little creativity, your child can stay busy, earn some money, learn a work ethic and possibly lay the ground work for a career.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resources:
“Information’s pretty thin stuff unless mixed with experience.”
Columnist Terry Corbell is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services (many are available online). For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule Terry Corbell as a speaker, why don’t you contact him today?