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Susan’s 16-year old spends all his summer days in his room. Sprawled out on his bed, he has retreated to Heavy Metal Musicland and the wonders of telephone technology. Susan is determined to help him do something more constructive during his summer break. She wonders what she could find that he would consider. She thinks about volunteering opportunities and the local, minimum wage job market.

A volunteer job has the advantage of developing positive character and the disadvantage of no monetary compensation for the work done. However, this remains a great way to give back to the local community. The Red Cross has opportunities ranging from hospital Candy Stripers to camp counselors for mentally handicapped children. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters use volunteers to help serve and operate their organizations. Meals on Wheels is a popular program available in most communities. Sometimes local humane societies use volunteers to help with the daily, massive influx of stray animals. These ideas are excellent for teens who are too young to work or who enjoy giving their time to charitable causes.

These ideas are excellent for teens who are too young to work, or who enjoy giving their time to charitable causes. Teenagers who have their driver’s license may prefer a paying job, though. Some jobs may require a little experience while others do not. A little initiative and ingenuity may be all that is needed to secure a summer position.

Babysitting is a great opportunity, especially over the summer. Parents often struggle with expensive daycare options when school is not in session. Teenagers who babysit are a premium in most communities. A Red Cross card from a certified babysitting program gives the sitter the advantage of charging more than those untrained.

Safety is a concern in operating mowing equipment. Mature teens who have demonstrated responsibility with the family’s mower may develop a lawn care business. Mowing, edging, and raking are the usual services offered. Some teens may be able to do more like planting and pruning.

Retail jobs go very quickly, but some opening may exist during the summer. Check the malls for entry-level jobs (sometimes they will have a sign in the window). Movie theaters with children’s matinees during the afternoon may have summer openings. The best bet will probably be with fast food restaurants. It is not the most glamorous job, but the companies sometimes offer nice benefits. Opportunities for supervisory advancement at company expense are also a bonus. Because so many of the personnel at fast food restaurants are teenagers, they have flexible scheduling so teens can meet their other obligations.

Susan considers these options and presents them to her son. He is less than thrilled with most of the ideas, but he would like to earn some cash during the summer. Together Susan and her son discuss preferences. He has always liked cars, and he helps keep his mom’s car looking nice since she loans it to him. They decide that detailing cars would be a fun and interesting opportunity for the summer. Clients will drop their vehicles off at the house and return later. His mom will loan him some start-up money to buy cleaning and waxing materials. The optimism builds as Susan’s son considers the chance of buying his own car! She nods in half-hearted agreement, glad that he will be busy for a while before then.