Beyond Babysitting: Winter Break Jobs for Teens and College Students

Do you have a college student who will be home for an extended winter break this year?

Are your teenagers in need of spending money but don’t have time for a job during the school year? While seasonal retail jobs are often a great option, there are also a few ways for teens and young adults to hang out a shingle and earn extra cash over the winter break.

College students make great house and pet sitters. (Twenty20 @NataliaSolo)

How teens can earn money over winter break

IT Help

Whether your child is a computer wiz or just a wiz on her phone, there’s a good chance she knows more about technology than most adults over 50. Maybe your child can help people set up a new computer or install and troubleshoot software.

Perhaps she can set up a website or create and manage a blog. But it might surprise you how many people, particularly older people, would be willing to pay someone to do technology odd jobs such as these

  • Syncing all their devices or remotes 
  • Printing their photos 
  • Finding and using helpful apps
  • Using Zoom or FaceTime
  • Editing photos
  • Or simply learning new and help ways to make the most of their computer or phone

House and Pet Sitting

College students can make great house sitters. They are often responsible and reliable. And, let’s be honest, many would welcome a few days away from home during the long winter break. Just encourage your student to get all the necessary information by asking questions like these

  • Do your pets require any special care? 
  • Are any rooms or furniture that off limits to your pet?
  • Are there any household tasks I should accomplish while I’m here? 
  • What is your wifi password? 
  • Do you have a security system? 
  • Are there specific times during the day that I need to be sure I’m here? 
  • Do you have any scheduled services or repairs like lawn service or housekeeping while I’m here?
  • How can I reach you?

Seasonal Work

There are many stores and institutions who need more hands on deck over the winter break. This is temporary work that may dovetail perfectly with your teens’s school break. For instance UPS has thousands of jobs that they are filling for the holiday season including working in a warehouse, as a driver helper, or as someone who delivers packages in your own car. If your teen is interested, the first step is to fill out an application here to participate.

Household and Yard Help

Your child doesn’t have to be a natural born neat freak or even particularly tidy to be able to provide basic housekeeping and yard help. But even if he isn’t interested in traditional house cleaning, your teen or college student could make money doing seasonal tasks. 

  • Putting up and taking down Christmas decorations
  • Gift wrapping
  • Hanging Christmas lights outdoors
  • Polishing silver 
  • Raking leaves
  • Shoveling snow
  • Cleaning and organizing garages, sheds, or barns

Dog Socializing and Basic Training

Becoming a certified dog trainer can take up to a year and hours of coursework. But many amateur dog trainers are self-taught. It’s important for your child to be upfront about this with clients and let them know that she isn’t a certified trainer.

But dog obedience classes are expensive. Some families, particularly those who only want basic socialization and manners training, are willing to employ an ametuer trainer to save money–as long as they get results. If your child loves dogs and is willing to put in the time to read up on dog training or watch some informative videos, basic dog training might be a great way to earn extra money. 

Personal Shopping

Right now many people, particularly the elderly, are trying to limit their outings. For the teenager who likes to shop, providing shopping (and returning) services could be an excellent winter break job. Encourage your teen to market herself as more than a delivery person or an errand runner but as an amateur personal shopper–for anything from Christmas gifts to groceries.

Even with many stores offering pickup and delivery service, some people prefer someone who will contact them with questions about substitutions or even offer suggestions and gift ideas. 

Get the word out

No matter how great your teenagers’ ideas are or how marketable their skills, they still have to find customers. For that, they might need your help. Many parents aren’t comfortable with the idea of their teenager hanging up fliers or putting an ad on Craigslist. We want our kids to make money, but we also want them to be safe. With the right marketing, ideally they can earn enough money just working for friends and acquaintances. 

Social media is a great way to advertise, but if your kids don’t have Facebook–the preferred social media of the over 40 crowd–you might have to post their “ad’ for them and let friends and family know how they can reach your young entrepreneur. Or better yet, encourage your child to start their own social media presence for their business that you can share with your contacts.

And don’t forget about good old fashioned word of mouth. Ask your mom to tell her book club what your kid has to offer or your sister to tell her friends. And apps like NextDoor can be a great way to let neighbors know about your child’s business. Finally, once jobs start coming in, encourage your child to ask satisfied clients to spread the word and to recommend them.

With an extended winter break ahead, many teenagers and college students will have extra time on their hands. Fortunately, with a little ingenuity and hardwork (and maybe a little help from mom and dad), they can turn that extra time into extra cash. And that is a win for everyone! 

More Reading:

How Parents Can Prepare for the Longest College Winter Break EVER

About Laura Hanby Hudgens

Laura Hanby Hudgens is a part-time high school teacher and a freelance writer living with her husband and children in the Arkansas Ozarks. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Grown and Flown, and elsewhere. You can learn more about her at Charming Farming, where she occasionally blogs about faith, food, education, and family life.

Read more posts by Laura

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