Should You Get a Summer Job?

Yes! But this year, why not be your own boss? Creating a mini biz can be rewarding and fun.

School’s out, and it’s time to have fun! But between beach trips, movie nights, and concerts, the costs can add up. The obvious way to fund your warm-weather adventures is to get a job, but if you’re thinking easier said than done, you’re right. The number of teens who are employed during the summer has dwindled in the past 10 years.

One reason is that there just aren’t as many jobs available. The traditional retail positions that teens used to fill (like at the mall’s clothing stores) are vanishing as more and more people shop online.

The solution is to get creative. This summer, try turning what you’re already good at and passionate about into a moneymaking business.

Being your own boss comes with mega benefits, like the ability to work when you want to rather than when your manager tells you to. And because there’s no age requirement, even younger teens can give it a go. Let's get started!

If you can work a camera and edit Insta-worthy photos, then chances are someone you know would love to hire you to document an upcoming event or important life moment.

Keep your ears open! Once you hear about a potential job—a cousin’s bat mitzvah or a neighbor’s puppy adoption—approach the person and ask questions that show you’re interested (“What’s the puppy’s name? What’s his favorite toy?”). Then throw in your pitch: “I’m a photographer and have taken hundreds of photos of dogs. I’d love to arrange a shoot with yours!”

You know those small tasks that your mom and dad always complain about, such as mowing the backyard or dropping off packages at the post office? Offering to take them on—whether for your parents or other adults you know—is a fast, easy way to make a few bucks.

Write an email that includes your skills, such as dog-walking, car-washing, or organizing. Send it to your parents, piano teacher, and other trusted adults and ask them to help spread the word by forwarding the email to friends.

Whether you design T-shirts, illustrate birthday cards, or upcycle knickknacks into jewelry, you can capitalize on your craftiness by selling your creations in person or online.

One of the simplest ways is to open up a shop on Etsy.com. (You’ll need to be at least 13 years old and have a parent or guardian register with your account.) Use basic terms in your product description based on what people would plug into the search field. This will help ensure that visitors to the site find your work (for example, “Silver flower ring” instead of “Special Maui hibiscus ring”). Upload a great shot of your product, then sit back and wait for the sales to come in!

You already spend time scrolling through Instagram—why not make some money while you’re at it? Many small-business owners can’t (or simply don’t know how to) keep up with their company’s online presence. That’s where you and your social media savvy come in.

Approach a local business—whether it’s an ice cream shop or a pet store—and give them concrete examples of how you can improve their social media pages or craft creative posts. For example, you could point out that their Facebook feed hasn’t been updated in six months or show them a Boomerang you took of your ice cream sundae that already received 50+ likes on your personal account.

If you’re a gifted musician or athlete, you can earn cash by teaching your skills to younger kids.

Approach the child’s parent with an offer that they’ll have trouble turning down. Try: “I’m great at showing kids how to dribble a soccer ball. Would you be willing to pay me $10 to coach your son for an hour?” Hopefully, the family will like you so much that they’ll ask you to work more hours. But if not, you still made some spending money!

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