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The 🦮 dog walkers, 🗞 paper kids and 👶 babysitters of old are certainly not dead but summer jobs have changed A LOT. If you are doing one of these jobs, chances are there’s an app involved somewhere in the middle and if you’re not, well, there’s a whole world of new opportunities out there. From getting an early start on what you think your career might be to forging a brand new career path all of your own, here are some cool jobs to get you through the long, hot summer.
If 💰 money isn’t your main motivator (lucky you) then volunteering can be an amazing opportunity. You can work in so many varied fields, from retail and hospitality right through to childcare and officework. Whoever you’re working for is likely to be pretty short staffed so you’ll probably do and learn a lot more than you expected. On top of all this, some studies have linked youth volunteering, so long as it’s truly voluntary and not forced, to improved psychological well being, staying in school longer and earning more. Then, of course, there’s the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from helping out. That can be at op shops like Lifeline or the Salvation Army, cleaning up the environment at Landcare or fighting the climate crisis with, plus so many other options.
If you already have a bit of an idea about what you’d like to do when you leave school, then why not get started early. A lot of businesses offer summer internships or work experience for senior high schoolers. You should also consider virtual work experience. It may sound a little different at first but most people find that because it’s tailor-made to high school students, they actually learn a lot more about the business and come away with a deeper understanding of how the industry works. Some of the feedback we’ve been getting on our Environmental Scientist program is incredible. “The reason I wanted to do work experience in environmental science is mainly because I’m really really passionate about the conservation and protection of the planet, especially with climate change being such a pressing issue,” Gabby told us.
This is a variation on the classic advice of handing out your resume to every small business in town. You can still do that, but think a bit broader. One of the biggest skills you probably have that business owners might not is social media and internet savvy. So don’t just apply for a retail role, think about how the local organic fruit shop or shoe repairer can up their Insta game, fill out their Google Maps profile or do with a website. Market stalls and other home-grown businesses are great opportunities for this too. It’s going to be a hard sell to begin with but if you offer some free work and do a great job, they might think about giving you some hours longer term. Plus, it’s a great way to learn about running a small business itself.
Ok, you’re definitely too young to have been around when that song came out but that’s not really the point. As hard as it is for old (editor’s note: hey, we’re not that old!) people like us to accept, Youtubers and Twitch streamers are legitimate professions now. Both jobs can be surprisingly gruelling and there’s no shortage of people struggling under the pressure and burning out, but they can also be rewarding, both emotionally and financially.
If you’re massively into gaming (or anything else people will pay to watch, really), you can start streaming on Twitch from as young as 13 but if you’re under 18 you’ll have to be supervised by a parent or legal guardian. The same goes for YouTube, where Google allows access from 13 but requires you to be linked to a parent’s AdSense account to monetise.
Guess what? You already have one of the world’s most employable skills. English is the global language of business and the official corporate language of international firms from Airbus and Daimler-Chrysler to Nokia and Samsung, all of which hail from non-English-speaking countries. Because it’s such an essential skill, the demand to learn is enormous. Most English as a Second Language programs require teachers to have a university degree but some, such as Cambly and Tutlo, only require a TESOL certificate, which you can get from about 15 or 16 years old, according to TESOL Australia.
There are a ton of small little jobs that companies or even freelancers want done quickly so they can focus on other things. Often that means basic graphic or web design, photo editing or even a few social media posts. So if there’s something you’re really passionate about, it’s worth taking a quick look at sites like Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer.com to see if people are on the hunt for what you do best.
Don’t be afraid to go super niche. Brock Stupka, an American 16-year-old told the New York Times he was earning between US$8 and US$15 per edit for an online photo editing service focusing on athletes. “They give us a picture of them playing a sport, and we crop out what they want, or add stuff,” Mr. Stupka said. If you’re going to go down this path, it’s best to use it as a learning opportunity too. Say you have 15 hours a week free to work: devote half your time to the jobs themselves and the other half to learning new skills in that field on YouTube or even a paid online course.
Being an influencer might seem like the dream job – get paid to post pictures on Instagram, make TikTok dance videos or Reels – but behind-the-scenes it takes a lot of work. First you have to build up an engaged audience of fans. Most people suggest about 10,000 followers is the lower end of what brands are looking for but don’t expect Kardashian money. Definitely make sure you have an open and honest chat with your parents to make sure you’re all comfortable about going down this route.
Apart from the ethical concerns of selling yourself as a “brand” there are also some real business skills involved, like negotiating with companies and knowing your value. With “jobs you need to do a lot of training,” an American 13-year-old told The Atlantic in 2018. “Then you have to, like, physically go out and do the job for hours a day. Doing this, you can make one simple post, which doesn’t take a while. That single post can earn you, like, $50.”
Summer jobs can be as much about the skills you learn as the actual job you do. Let’s be honest, you’re unlikely to have the same dreams for the future by the end of summer, let alone by the time you finish school. So pick a skill that you wish to work and use your time to skill up. Maybe you want to try public speaking more, or learn about what it means to be an entrepreneur (hint: more than just enthusiasm!) Taking courses and doing extra activities shows future employers that you’ve learned important soft skills, such as a growth mindset, creativity, focus mastery and innovation.
Between the pressures of high school, being a teenager and choosing a career you need to make time to look after your mental health.
Even if Australia’s borders stay shut you can plan an epic gap year in 2022 or 2023. Here’s some tips for how to make your year-long break one to remember.