Summer jobs are more than a backdrop for 1980’s teen romcoms—they are an adolescent right of passage. For some kids, these starter gigs are their first real bite of independence. For others, it’s a chance to hone a skill that could later become a career. And for all kids, it’s a chance to make a little—or sometimes a lot—of extra pocket money.
With COVID-19 still raining all over our summer, the regular go-to locations for teen jobs are unfortunately some of the last places you can go to—or some of the last places you might want to go. Public pools, restaurants, summer camps and other businesses are either shut down or operationally limited enough to make them much less of an employment option for young adults right now.
However, if your teenager is still hoping to earn some money this summer and you (or they) are feeling hesitant about facing the public, here are some other ideas for you.
This is the kind of camping I can personally get behind: No heat, no bugs and zero knowledge of fire-building required. The Neuron Garage, based in Austin, Texas, is in need of virtual camp instructors—an impactful role that helps kids gain hands-on experience with engineering projects by building with recyclable materials.
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If you have a passion for working with kids, a fun loving spirit, and reliable wifi access, this might be the gig for you. And for teenagers and young adults who are looking for jobs that go past the summer, the Neuron Garage says it intends to continue camp throughout the school year as a supplemental activity for students.
In New York City, officials have taken their annual in-person Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and remixed it for our virtual world. The SYEP Summer Bridge is an opportunity to gain hands-on professional experience, as well as fine-tune your job-readiness skill set. In addition to the wealth of knowledge, selected applicants will also receive a stipend of $700 or $1,000, depending on their age.
Although this program is specific to New York City residents, similar opportunities are becoming available in other states, like Connecticut, as part of initiatives of city and state government. Take a look for roles like this via your state’s website or the website for your mayor’s office. The SYEP Summer Bridge, specifically, will accept applications starting July 9.
In Philadelphia, tech education not-for-profit Coded by: Kids has teamed up with the city-led initiative WorkReady to offer kids the opportunity to learn to code and get paid while doing it. Kids who get the gig will not only bank a pretty amazing skill, but will also earn $595 for their time and effort.
Presently, the program is at capacity, but interested applicants are encouraged to register to be notified when additional opportunities become available.
The Baby-sitters Club was onto something; for kids who are looking to make their own schedule and test-drive being the boss, this is a great opportunity to harness that entrepreneurial spirit. A lot of their neighbors may be overwhelmed with kids and jobs—or life in general—and don’t have time for the day-to-day chores. Try offering up your dog-walking services, your car-washing or lawn-mowing skills, pencil in some time to handle the grocery pick-up, or offer to run out the kids’ energy in the backyard a few times a week.
You can also take your skills or passions online. Is art or photography your thing? Can you make a chic virus-blocking face mask? Try setting up an Etsy store featuring your original designs or your best work and promote your shop with family, friends and on social media.
While this work might not pay the big bucks, you will walk away with a feeling of fulfillment, and maybe some extra karma points. If you can’t find the right virtual summer employment, consider donating your time to a virtual volunteer project or in support of social justice. There are lots of great national and local causes out there that could use your time and energy right now.
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