Non-mall summer job ideas for teens

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Ah, SUMMER! That grand time in the middle of the year in which you can expect several things: hot temperatures, lots of pool parties, and a whole gaggle of teens who are out of school on summer break and looking for ways to make cash. For every kid that likes folding clothes at a local big box establishment, there’s another who really… doesn’t. If your offbeat teen is looking for a summer gig that he or she might actually like, here are a few suggestions:

Outdoors FUN!

  • It’s a stereotype, but lifeguarding at a local pool might be one of the most obvious jobs around for a Red Cross-certified teen. There are usually facilities that offer the training on days that are convenient for students — for example, our local university’s gym has lifeguard-training classes on Saturdays in March and April and during Spring Break. It’s a little expensive up-front (around $150), but it beats slinging burgers.
  • Camps are ALWAYS looking for counselors! Since there are so many different kinds of camps (band camp, art camp, space camp, nature camps, etc.), there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

Rockin’ the homestead

  • If your teen is a clean freak, he or she might want to consider trumpeting their house-cleaning skills on Craigslist. If allowing your underage kid to offer services online freaks you out, consider posting a flyer at local coffee shops and churches, or wherever you guys frequent.
  • Don’t forget the quintessential teen summer job: babysitting! While most teens aren’t old enough to list their services on websites like Care and Sittercity, you can combine your social networks and probably come up with a few people who might be looking for someone to watch a kiddo or two. Plus, nowadays this could easily be extended to house-, pet-, or even car-sitting. Similarly, a stint in dog-walking could be awesome.

For the artistically-inclined

  • Art lessons are huge across the ages — little kids, the elderly, and many people in between love expressing themselves. What better way to put those skills gleaned from a high school photography or painting class to good use than to teach others at an hourly rate?
  • If you have a budding English major (or just a voracious reader) on your hands, he or she might be interested in tutoring younger children in the rules of reading and writing. Libraries and community centers usually offer these kinds of lessons and groups, so they’d be good places to start looking.

If money isn’t the object

  • If your kid doesn’t actually need to make money but wants something to do, there are two huge possibilities: internships and volunteering. Both are pretty easy to find locally, but the internet has possibilities as well: has a list of guidelines for high school students, and VolunteerMatch and the HandsOn Network are good places to find volunteer opps in your neck of the woods.

I know there’s way more where this came from — what offbeat summer jobs did you guys have?

Comments on Non-mall summer job ideas for teens

  1. Being a competitive swimmer in high school, working at the local city pool was a given. But the thought of being responsible for the lives of other kids scared the crap out of me, no matter how much training was involved. Instead I worked teaching swimming lessons. I didn’t have to be a lifeguard to do that. My skin went through hell, but it was a ton of fun.

    I also worked a summer as a counselor at a Girl Scout camp. If the pay was better and if I could come home every night to my boys, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  2. I had ridiculously boring summer jobs at a grocery store, but my younger sister worked at a barn for three years in a row, working with horses! It was awesome, and she loved the challenge of it.

  3. I worked as a info guide for Parks Canada. It was great! I sat at a table in the parking lot, handed out brochures and told people about the trails, if there were any local warnings like bears etc. I had a radio on me at all times and the Rangers had regular stops so it was pretty safe!

  4. I worked as an usher for local community theatre productions. Though it didn’t actually pay, I got to see the shows for free. My friends and I loved it, and it fostered a lifelong love of performance arts.

  5. You don’t have to be 14 to start volunteering! My first summer job was when I was 11, signing people up for the summer reading program at my local library. It was a great way to learn about responsibility and professionalism, even at that young age!

    My favorite high school summer job was working at my youth symphony’s summer day camp. Even though when I tell people that now, the “band camp” jokes start flowing… (Doesn’t help that I played the flute!)

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