The lazy days of summer are right around the corner, and for any of us who work with teens – or parent them – we know that their months off can be a great way to get in the experience, skills and development they need to mold their own futures and aspirations. Check out our list of things you can encourage teens to do while also enjoying time with friends and family.
1. Plan to take your teen on a college visit
Teens are much more likely to envision themselves on a campus and thereby set goals for themselves when they see what college is really like (versus what they hear from their peers and television). Coordinate with your teen to visit schools of interest. Most Admissions Departments are designed to give tours for students at any time. Sometimes all it takes for teens to obtain the motivation and inspiration to set academic and career goals is actually seeing what the end result might look like and picturing themselves in that arena.
2. Encourage your teen to spend their time doing something meaningful
Utilize sites like www.volunteennation.org or www.dosomething.org to encourage your teen to work on a project of their own interest. Whether it’s tending to a community garden or helping build houses through Habitat for Humanity, there are many things to do that can foster a greater sense of community, work skills and empathy for your teen. Try not to dictate the activity your teen will engage in but help facilitate the conversation of their interests and what they’d like to do. If you get their friends involved, even better! Teens do better with peers and doing something positive together can only be beneficial for their friendship. Also check out: www.idealist.org, www.volunteermatch.org.
3. Setup career-shadowing opportunities
A great way to help teens get a realistic sense of what it means to grow up and become a doctor, stylist, engineer, ice-cream taste tester, etc. is to have them live a week in the life of their career of choice. If your personal networks do not include any of the above careers, try calling a local professional association of whatever career path they are considering to get ideas.
4. Encourage teens to take a summer job
Earning one’s first paycheck is one of the most memorable and meaningful events for a young teen. The correlation between hard work and wages is one that can provide life lessons that go beyond high school. Encourage teens to take on summer work as a way to keep them engaged, responsible and honing their skills and resume. Not only does working build up their potential for future success, with the right support, it also allows them to learn responsibility with finances. Everyone starts somewhere. Some of our nation’s most accomplished individuals learned the basics of hard work while bagging groceries, selling clothing, flipping burgers or lifeguarding. Check out www.snagajob.com for resources specifically tailored to high school students.
5. Find opportunities to help them build their semi-resume
One of the biggest leaps that teens have to take from high school to college is gaining experience that is meaningful to their future aspirations. Though few expect teens to have a full-blown resume by the time they graduate, suggesting the documentation of pertinent activities takes them one step closer to their career goals. All of the activities mentioned above are legitimate experiences that colleges want to see. Compiling a preliminary resume is also a moment to look back and reflect on their work. You can utilize this process to help facilitate a discussion on whether or not they are heading in the trajectory they want to go and what support can help them get there. This is a great goal-setting process that sets the stage for a future career and lifetime of success.
Whatever you encourage your teen to do this summer; remember that your support and guidance is of the greatest importance. It’s not about WHAT they do, but how they go through the process. Being there for them will create lasting impressions beyond today and tomorrow. Have any others you’d like to add? Comment below!