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How Does COVID-19 Affect Summer Jobs for Teens?


Summer is almost here. It’s a time of longer days and warmer temperatures, and most teens look forward to a break from school – and more time to sleep in. But, as any parent knows, summers can be a precarious time for young adults. Too much unstructured time can lead to counterproductive habits, boredom, and frustration.

It’s always wise for parents to look for something to provide a little structure for those long, lazy days.

The summer job is a time-honored way to provide that structure, as well as a great way for adolescents to test their wings in the real world. In the right summer job, teens can earn extra money, learn new skills, and refine their interests. Working during the summer months can boost a teen’s confidence, and allow them to gain some work experience in a setting that’s not as high-stakes as it will be just a few years down the road, when they join the workforce as adults.

This year, however, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, you may find your planning for summer is up in the air. This article discusses the top summer jobs for teens, and examines how the landscape has changed with the issues we are facing in these unprecedented times.

Top Summer Jobs for Teens

Let’s start by looking at some classic seasonal jobs for teens, and assess how the COVID-19 outbreak affects them. Before we do, though, we need to reiterate that the health and safety of your teen is paramount. Do not allow your teen to work for a business that does not follow – to the letter – the CDC guidelines for the safe operation of that specific type of business. No exceptions.

Now, let’s look at these two jobs (we’re leaving out food service and retail out of an abundance of caution):

  • Camp Counselor. With camps closed in most states, this popular summer job may not be feasible this year.
  • Nannying/babysitting. This may also be a tough one to find this year.

If your teen likes the outdoors, is good with kids, and has experience as a counselor or nanny, look for roles where those skills can be transferred:

  • Some pools and beaches are open – and they will likely need lifeguards as the summer goes on
  • Golf caddy. Some golf courses in some areas are either already open or beginning to reopen with social distancing rules in place.
  • Sports instructor. Though most camps will not run this summer, your teen may be able to find work coaching or teaching sports like tennis or golf.

Of course, any role that puts your teen in contact with the public comes with new risks now, with some experts predicting a second wave of COVID-19 cases as the economy re-opens. We’ll reiterate that you and your teen should research the risks in your area and discuss them. Make sure that proper precautions are being taken in your teen’s workplace, and emphasize the importance of following them. If your teen has special health concerns, such as a compromised immune system or even seasonal allergies, you may elect to steer them toward a job that doesn’t require in-person contact with customers – or skip working altogether this summer.

Adapting to Change is a Valuable Life Skill

With all that in mind, encourage your teen to use their creativity and rethink their summer opportunities. For example, if your teen is good at social media, he or she might seek a role helping a local business build its brand online. Teens interested in marketing or graphic design can try something similar. And with movie theaters and local playhouses closed, theater kids may be frustrated at the lack of opportunities. Why not encourage them to research grants and competitions for short films?

New Ways of Looking at the Summer Job

Keep in mind that you and your teen are dealing with an unprecedented situation. COVID-19 is a global pandemic. That hasn’t happened in roughly a hundred years. It’s no wonder that things aren’t proceeding as normal.

When something this huge happens, it serves as a chance to reexamine priorities and cherish what’s really important in life. This is something you can talk over with your adolescent. Talk to them about what they’re going through. Listen without judgment, whether they’re feeling disappointed, anxious, stir-crazy, or scared. Take the pandemic as a starting point for a conversation about values, too. Maybe your teenager had hoped to put aside a certain amount of money this summer or spend time with certain friends. Perhaps volunteering or raising money to donate toward a cause can help them regain a sense of purpose.

Finally, remind your teen that you can still cherish the time you have together as a family. That’s what summer is all about, and it’s one aspect of your summer that doesn’t have to change because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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