I recently had the pleasure of guest-hosting Bob Brinker's "Money Talk," and the subject of kids and summer jobs came up.
Having a summer job is a large part of your child's education. Unfortunately, with the unemployment and underemployment rate as high as it is, even if your kid is able and willing to work, there may not be a job available. Happily, there are other opportunities to ensure a worthwhile summer.
1. The Summer Entrepreneur
Your kids can start their own business. This can be a great learning experience and they can earn some real money.
The first step to help your children become entrepreneurs is to help them invent their business. Let them think about what they enjoy doing. Is it playing an instrument, playing a sport or even playing on the computer? They could turn their talents into cash.
After they've figured out what they would like to do, they need to evaluate whether other people need that talent. Do people need or want music lessons? Are there kids in the neighborhood who would like to learn to play soccer? Are there people who need help with their computers? Perhaps they could teach social media or create websites for people.
Even if your kids are not doing a job they love, they may be good at doing tasks which can be turned into cash. For example, they might mow lawns and weed, walk or clean up after dogs, or they may do light household chores for older neighbors -- changing light bulbs or getting groceries.
The next step is for your children to make a simple business plan. This helps them focus on what they are doing. Have them articulate their business idea -- what it is and what the business will do. They also have to think about who will be their customers. Then explore the big question of how your children plan to get those customers to use the new business.
Finally, they will have to look at the cost to start the business and keep it going. Some start-up costs, like the marketing expense of creating flyers, may be a one-time expense. However, there may also be ongoing expenses, like gas for the lawn mower and maybe even new blades.
Your children should consider testing out their new-found business before they (or you) invest too much money in it. For instance, before they invest in that expensive lawn mower, make sure they really know that they want to and will mow lawns and can build a business. Also, make sure your kids understand and take all safety precautions.
OK, they've decided on their business; now they are ready to get customers. A good way to do that is to "spread the word." They could make flyers or even spread by word-of-mouth. Numerous supermarkets, libraries, restaurants or beauty salons have areas where they can post jobs. In the flyer, your children should explain what the service is, how much they charge and how to get in touch with them. This is also a great time for them to practice their telephone skills by giving them a list of neighbors and friends for them to call. Write out a phone script and have them practice. Make sure they are polite, know what the business is and what the costs are. Help them develop a "close." For instance, "Is it convenient for me to start next week? What day works best for you?"
2. The Apprentice
Another option is an internship. This is an excellent way to learn about a job or business for possible future employment. The structure and responsibility is invaluable experience. Let your kid pick a job that that is of interest and they can ask if they could have an unpaid internship for a month with that company. Make sure that you "role play" the interview so they know how to present themselves and also work with them to create a simple resume.
When thinking about an internship, consider transportation -- how will your child get back and forth to the business location? Also, consider the proper attire. You may have to purchase appropriate clothing.
3. The Summer Volunteer
Giving one's time is always worthwhile. Your kids can volunteer to various charities and gain valuable experience while learning your family's values. If there is a soup kitchen in your city, they could serve meals. They could read to kids in a hospital, or visit a senior center where they could play games with the retirees. Animal shelters need volunteers to help feed and clean-up after the orphaned pets.
Even if you decide that summer really is just meant to be a time to relax and recharge for the upcoming school term, there are still lessons to be learned. If you are fortunate enough to be taking a family vacation, include your kids in on the planing and setting up the budget. Have them research facts about your destination -- climate, economic data, history. When you return home, they should write a report about the trip.
Just because school's out doesn't mean learning takes a holiday. Summer is the time for expanded freedom, casual attire and family vacation, but it is also the perfect time for real life lessons. Remember, the world around us is an excellent classroom.
Please share your summer job memories with us in the space provided.