Teens, Jobs and Elbow Grease

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Every teenager needs to earn and save money. A little ingenuity can go a long way.

So it’s time for your teen to get beyond the lemonade stand and get a real, paying job, right? With unemployment high, some real creativity needs to come into play here. Teens may be able to start their own businesses.

All it takes is thinking it through and the initiative to follow through. That’s the only difference between the teen who’s already teaching guitar lessons and the one who’s dreaming about it. Here are a few businesses that teens can start on their own – or with a friend – followed by tips for making it happen:

A cleaning service. Maybe your teen hates doing chores at home, but getting paid for doing them is completely different. He could offer complete housecleaning services, or specialize in one or more areas, such as attic/basement/garage clean-ups.

A yard maintenance service. There is always something that needs to be done in everyone’s neighborhood … mowing lawns and weed control in the spring and summer, raking leaves in the fall and shoveling snow in the winter.

A car-detailing business. Very few people have the time to really take care of their cars – your teen could offer a weekly or monthly service of washing, waxing, vacuuming, etc.

A music teacher. Lots of parents want a teenager to teach guitar or other instruments to their kids. This is easy to get started with fliers in mailboxes and a reference from your teen’s music teacher at school.

A pet sitting service. Typically more of a summer business when people tend to go on vacation, but your teen can offer a year-round business by offering pet walking, bathing, cleaning, etc.

A computer service. Is your teen a whiz with computers and the Web? Many adults are not, and he could make a solid
business helping people learn to use PCs and develop Web sites for their families.

A cooking service. Does your teen enjoy cooking or baking? If he can provide a service that offers well-cooked meals or home-baked goods, he could do quite well.

A painting service. With a little experience and a few friends, he could launch a painting business. People are always renovating. He could offer exterior paint jobs in the nicer months and interiors during the colder months.

An errand or delivery service. People need help with all sorts of errands. Your teen could offer grocery shopping services, package mailing, hardware store runs, etc.

A tutoring service. If your teen has talent with foreign language, math, science or other subjects, he could offer tutoring sessions to children, teens and adults in your neighborhood.

A freelancing service. If your teen is gifted in a certain field, such as writing, drawing or photography, consider him starting a freelance business for invitations, family portraits, etc.

5 Tips for Landing a Job

1. BE BRAVE
Even in this economy, there are employers looking for the affordable, enthusiastic, and energetic help that teenagers provide, but you have to go out and ask for it. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by news of the economy, and don’t be afraid to apply for jobs.

2. BE PREPARED
Bring a resume and a cover letter whenever you apply for a job. Teens are competing with adults for jobs now, and having a well-written resume is essential. It shows that you are serious about the position and that you are mature and responsible. Look online for samples of resume to get your teen started.

3. BE POLITE
When applying for a job, dress up, make eye contact, shake hands and avoid using slang. First impressions matter – they are your chance to prove yourself – so take advantage of the opportunity.

4. BE PERSISTENT
Persistence pays off. Send thank-you notes to interviewers. Follow-up with a phone call if you do not hear about the job after a week, and keep applying.

5. BE CREATIVE
Look for work in places other than the mall. The weak economy means that people are going to be looking to cut costs in areas such as lawn and child care. Get a few friends together and start a landscaping or a baby-sitting business.

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