No More Lazy Days of Summer: how to help your teen make the most of summer
Picture this: Your teen is sprawled out on the couch with a bag of Doritos in hand and the TV channel set to MTV. What's wrong with this picture? Do you envision yourself being frustrated by your teen's laziness all summer long? Relaxation after a stressful and frenzied school year is probably much needed; but, after a few days of rest, your teen should start thinking about taking advantage of his free time and expanding his horizons.Jobs are scarce these days, and many internship opportunities are filled in late winter. However, it's not too late for your teen to plan a constructive summer.
When teenagers use their free time to expand their knowledge base by volunteering, working or taking classes, college admissions officers and future employers take notice.
Carole Jabbawy, Ed.D., founder and director of Internship Connection in Newton, MA, says, "An internship or volunteer experience is the first step to building a resume. Teens gain career exposure which will be very helpful in sorting out a college major." Teens who plan to seek employment right after high school will also reap benefits from field experience including:
• Resume building
• Exploration of interests
• Making "connections" in a specific industry
• Setting oneself apart from the crowd
Last Minute Opportunities
Teens should seek assistance from their school's guidance office. Small businesses, hospitals, churches, and nursing homes are always looking for extra help and usually welcome teen applicants. For last minute opportunities, it's best to canvas your neighborhood and ask about positions in person.
"While June may be too late for some internships," says Jabbawy, "non-profits are still quite busy in June and July. Late spring is a busy time for fundraising events and extra hands are always welcome."
Finding a paying job for the summer at this late date might be difficult; however, motivated teens can still find openings. Full-time employees often have summer vacation plans, so part-time positions become available. "Business owners tell me that they don't have enough time in the day to keep up with social networking," Jabbawy explains. "They would love a teen to work on a project promoting their business through Facebook, blogging or Twitter."
Summer classes are great for teens who want to improve their academic resume. Jim Sirianni, Ph.D., assistant dean and director of Summer College at Stanford University, explains, "Very often universities will allow prospective students to enroll in summer courses right up until the first day of class. Students should check with multiple institutions in their area to see when summer classes begin, as some start weeks later than others. Large institutions tend to have a summer session office that oversees summer course offerings, while the registrar's office is a good starting point for inquiries at smaller colleges."
Many colleges offer competitive scholars programs, academic camps or traditional classes that high school students can take in the summer. It's imperative that students check to see if there is an age minimum, a required placement test, or specific high school documents to submit before applying.
Volunteers are rarely turned away especially in a down economy. Plus, teens can feel good about making a difference. Jabbawy agrees. "It's wonderfully satisfying to volunteer for an organization that you care about."
Teens should search for positions that will help guide them toward their long-term goals. For example, aspiring veterinarians should find a position at an animal shelter rather than a restaurant. Jabbawy advises, "An internship or volunteer experience begins the process of creating a professional network and can lead to a paid position in the future."
Encourage your teen to ask questions and learn as much as they can while volunteering. Be sure your teen understands that showing up on time and being dependable is important even though she is not getting paid. Places to look for volunteer opportunities:
• Hospitals and medical clinics
• Homeless shelters
• Animal shelters
• Youth centers/camps
It's never too late to start your own business! Possible entrepreneurial ventures include lawn mowing, house painting, caring for pets while people are on vacation, fixing neighbors' computers, or cooking for the elderly. Teens can distribute fliers around their neighborhoods to get the word out.
Still stumped for ideas? Try websites like www.dosomething.org and www.volunteermatch.org
Myrna Beth Haskell is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Rochester Area & Genesee Valley Parent Magazine who lives in Salt Point, NY. She is the mother of two teenagers and specializes in parenting issues and children's development
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