Vicki at Make Smarter Decisions recently wrote about activities from her teenage years that benefited her later in life. This got me thinking about a summer job for my own children. Although I had teenagers in mind when I created this list, in fact, anyone with free time can start side businesses in these areas.
I recommend everyone start developing an entrepreneurial mindset early in life. And a summer job is a great way to do just that. Learning how to identify an opportunity, sell yourself, and run a business will benefit you in all aspects of your life. And even though you may (and probably will) work as an employee, you can still (and should) have a side business to diversify your income stream.
Some of the ideas below are more entrepreneurial than others. But the one common theme is that each summer job requires developing one or more entrepreneurial skills – sales, people management, training, leadership, organization, time management, and others.
Find a Summer Job to Make Money and Learn
Academic tutoring. If you are good in school, especially if you’re gifted in math, you might find success as an academic tutor. There are several areas where you can specialize – general skills, specific classes, or even test preparation. I have a friend you made a good tutoring income, preparing students to take the admissions test at private schools.
Camp counselor. Whether you choose an overnight camp or day camp, counselors work closely with children leading them and teaching them new skills. A camp counselor position is a great opportunity to develop leadership and people management skills. And since you’ll be overseeing children, you need to learn patience as well.
Lawn service. This is an old favorite summer job, but still relevant. You’ll be competing with larger commercial landscape maintenance companies, but can probably compete on price if you’re willing. Running a summer lawn business will help develop your selling and time management skills.
Lifeguard. This is a great option for current and former swim team members. To become a lifeguard will require training and certification, but it’s a unique way to combine your skills and interest with making money. At the same time, you’ll learn what it’s like to be responsible for other people.
Music lessons. Did you suffer through years and years of music lessons only to put down your instrument and never play again? If you can rekindle your past playing ability, maybe try your hand at teaching children to play. Most popular tends to be piano, violin, and guitar, but even if your expertise is in another area, don’t be afraid to put an ad on Craigslist and see the response. Do a little research to determine an appropriate rate, pricing your services on the lower end until you establish yourself.
Private sports lessons. It seems that everyone these days envisions their child becoming the next professional or Olympic athlete. At a minimum, they are expecting a college sports scholarship. Whether your sport is soccer, golf, tennis, or anything else, there’s a market of parents willing to pay good money to give their child any advantage they can find.
Summer drama production. This is a little more involved than just getting a summer job. But if you enjoy putting on a production, you might consider this. You can run short individual two-week sessions, or use the whole summer for a single production with each week dedicated to a different aspect of the show – set, music, choreography, etc.
Swim lessons. Nothing says summer more than swimming. If you’re a retired swim team veteran, you can try to go it alone, but you might be better off signing on with a local country club, health club, or public pool. After spending years swimming for hours and hours every day, put all that knowledge to good use. Plus it’s a great way to stay in shape.
Wait tables. I think everyone should spend a little time working as a waiter. Not only is it a great way to meet people and develop your social skills, it will also help you appreciate the challenges of working in the service industry. For the most part, waiters earn less than minimum wage before tips. They are dependent on their own ability to serve customers to generate tips. And often things are out of their control, but they pay the price in their tip. It’s a great introduction to the challenges of customer service.
Window washing. I’ve mentioned this business before, but window washing as a summer job is such a great niche, I’ll say it again. Start a window washing company. Nobody likes to wash their own windows. It’s dirty and time-consuming. If you’re willing to climb a ladder, this is a great way to make money over the summer. You’ll learn sales, organization, and if you hire a helper, you’ll learn to manage people.
The above list is just a small sampling of things you can do as a teenager to make money. No matter what money-making method you choose, in addition to the economic benefits, focus on developing entrepreneurial skills that you can carry with you in future endeavors.
Readers, do you have any other summer job ideas or creative ways for teenagers to make money and develop new skills?