Right about now, on the cusp of summer vacation, high school and college kids are looking for summer jobs and, perhaps, a touch of panic is setting in. The economy has improved but finding a job for just three months, without many skills or a degree, has always been challenging. Good luck to all of the job seekers.
While a good summer job can be a real learning and growing experience as well as a chance to make some money, there are some equally important things that students might want to do in those precious summer breaks before real life begins.
6 Ways Teens Can Make the Most of Summer Vacation
While this might seem obvious from the perspective of a parent, high school and college kids often try to burn the candle at both ends, particularly during the summer. Unlike the school year, where they have more flexibility with their time (e.g. the ability to grab a nap between classes or sleep in from time to time) during the summer, college students often attempt to work all day and carry on their social life at night.
At the end of the summer, instead of being recharged and ready to face the school year, they are in need of a vacation. College students need to make a deliberate effort to unwind, sleep well, eat healthy and exercise if they want to return to school in their best physical and mental shape.
2. Prepare for the Real Job Search
Summer internships are a great way to test the waters of real life. For a student who is unsure of where he wants to live after college or which industry she wants to work in, summer jobs provide an ideal testing ground. So rather than grab the first internship offered, it is worth thinking about what that experience will teach and how it will help in the more important full-time job search still looming.
An internship in another city (if there is inexpensive dorm housing) or a summer job in a field that might potentially be a career will be a learning experience for a lifetime. And if students cannot get an internship in their field of interest? Many adults are happy to have interested college students “shadow” them to learn what a career entails. This might mean bagging groceries or babysitting for some money and then, on some days off, following professionals whose careers might be of later interest.
3. Family Time
The school year seems to pull us all in a hundred different directions. College students may be away at school and high school students so caught up in activities that they never seem to be around. While it is nice if the family can reconvene over a summer vacation, family ties are not reinforced over a single week away.
Summer is a time for siblings to reconnect and for families to share more time together. But this does not happen on its own and only with a real effort to be together will families face the fall with their ties rejuvenated.
4. Close the Book and Learn Something
Summer is a chance to gain a skill that cannot be taught in the classroom. Book learning dominates the school year but summer is that time for students to study something that they won’t learn in college.
It is time to learn a new craft, how to fly an airplane or to cook more than Ramen noodles. It is a chance to learn to be a volunteer fireman or how to coach a sport. These final long school breaks are some of the last stretches of time to tackle a big, challenging project before a full-time job begins.
5. Get In Shape
Time to lose those college pounds or just take on the challenge of getting into the best shape of his or her life. There is no better time than summer to take on a fitness challenge. Whether it means running before work, finding a pickup soccer game at the end of the day, jumping into an outdoor pool or retreating to an air-conditioned gym, summer is a great time to set a high bar of athletic achievement and try to hurdle it. Everything science tells us about fitness affirms that this effort will pay off in better performance in the classroom.
Summer is a great time for study and travel abroad and there are few better ways to become global citizens than with passport in hand. Summer study programs are readily available including some that offer internships, providing a work experience along with a foreign setting. Further, immersion is the very best way to deepen a foreign language competency.
Consider programs that include classes that will satisfy a degree requirement which can give your student a leg up when she returns to campus in the fall. Financial aid is available with study abroad programs with enough lead time to meet deadlines.
Those long luxurious summers of student life all too quickly come to an end and young adults in full-time jobs miss them. Summer is an important time for high school and college students to earn some money but, with a little planning, it can be so much more.