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Summer jobs: Four tips for beating teen unemployment and boredom

Summer jobs can be hard for teens to find. Record high unemployment rates for teenagers means they should be creative in making their own jobs or volunteer opportunities by looking around the neighborhood. These four tips will give them a jump start.

By Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara GreenbergGuest bloggers / June 25, 2012

Summer jobs for teenagers are on the decline again this year. Teens will need to hit the neighborhood pavement to see what needs to be done. Creating their own job (like mowing lawns or babysitting) is one tip for beating the teen unemployment slump.

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Experts predict that the teen unemployment rate this summer will reach a record high for the third consecutive year. This situation can cause undue stress on teens and their families. Many teens rely on this source of summer income to cover both recreational costs throughout the year and to save for college.

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Talking Teenage

Jennifer Powell-Lunder (l.) and Barbara Greenberg (r.) are practicing psychologists specializing in adolescent issues. Both have been published widely and appear regularly in the print and broadcast media as teen experts. They blog together at Talking Teenage.

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Parents rely not only on the monetary gains for their teens, but also on the structure, predictability and stability a regular summer job ensures. Many teens find themselves loafing around the house with little to do except sleep, eat, play video games, or spend endless hours on social networking websites. The boredom can lead to strain between parents and teens. Parents want their kids to be productive; teens are frustrated with their lack of success in securing a job. Both parents and their teens can become annoyed and irritable with each other and the situation in general.

While the situation may seem dire, there are some strategies parents and teens can implement to stave off the boredom and create structure. While there is no guarantee that your teen will walk away with a job, isn’t it at least worth a try?

1. Call around to create a job. Your local neighborhood is the best place to conjure up employment. Teens should let friends and neighbors know they are available to do odd jobs. Parents can help to spread the word by talking to friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members.

2. Keen observation can lead to a job situation. A quick walk around the neighborhood could result in an employment opportunity for your teen. Does the neighbor’s lawn need mowing? Are the shrubs overgrown? Do the neighborhood kids seem bored? Do their parents seem overwhelmed?  Could an elderly neighbor use some help running errands? By offering to take over at the right price your teen can create a job where none previously existed.

3. Look into volunteer opportunities. Boredom can easily result in feeling depressed, anxious and isolated. Volunteer work result in feelings of pride and joy. Many organizations offer formal volunteer programs.

4. Create a volunteer position. Help your teen find a volunteer position by suggesting that he offer to work for free at an organization or business. If for example, she enjoys gardening, offering to help out at a local nursery will provide her with a great experience. Perhaps he wants to become a disc jockey or news reporter. Contacting local stations, including public access or local cable channels, may provide him with a priceless experience. Is she an aspiring designer? Does he want to be an architect? Your teen should identify and approach local firms and offer to work for free. If your teen loves animals, have him head to the local veterinary office, animal shelter or farm. They may just welcome a helping hand. It’s possible that their volunteer work may translate into a paid position. At minimum, the experience will offer structure and satisfaction in addition to experience they need for future jobs.

The current employment market certainly offers no easy answers but with a little ingenuity, your teen may just able to create a stable summer situation for him where none previously existed.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg blogs at Talking Teenage.

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