Summers are the ideal time for exploring a career. Even in a tight job market, teens can get their feet wet in the workplace. Encourage your child to be flexible, to think of a career in broad terms, and to accept non-paying jobs or internships for the experience they provide. In some cases, a summer job may also qualify your child for a scholarship.
"It's important for your child to work between the junior and senior years, especially," says Debbie Jones-Steele, a guidance counselor whose daughter will start college in the fall of '96. "My daughter volunteered on a Navajo reservation literacy project and based her application essays on her experience."
Summer jobs are a great way to get to know other adults and see what their careers involve, according to Louisa Sheldon, Educational Outreach Program Manager at the NOAH (New Opportunities in Animal Health) Center in Washington, D.C. She claims, "... no matter where you live, volunteer opportunities exist if you do a little digging. Hospitals, veterinary clinics, museums, labs -- you name it. All sorts of places need a pair of hands to help out."
Summer jobs can also steer students away from certain careers. As one student says, "I learned a lot about myself after a summer as a 'go-fer' (go for this, go for that) in a large downtown law firm. Even though my duties were pretty low-key -- copying documents, coordinating mailings, and delivering stuff -- I really soaked up the atmosphere and realized I wasn't cut out for that kind of life. Too much pressure and too many late hours!"