During this time of rising unemployment, it is becoming more difficult for teenagers to find summer jobs. In fact, the latest unemployment statistic for teenagers is a staggering 25.7%.
When our oldest was teenager, he did not work outside of our home. He had two part time summer jobs;
1) He was an administrative assistant for my real estate business. The admin job kept him in pocket money for pizza and movies
2) He searched and applied for strategic scholarships for college. Overall he applied for dozens of scholarships. Which meant fillling out lots of application forms and writing plenty essays. When the summer after his high school junior year was over, he had two scholarships. One that paid 50% of his tuition for the private university he now attends. He also was awarded a $3000 one time scholarship from a fortune 100 corporation.
I believe the main attributes that contributed to his success were:
1) Being organized: Knowing when the deadlines for each scholarship, understanding and collecting all materials needed for each scholarship in advance. For example, if the application required a letter of reference. Select a person to write the reference and request the letter weeks before you actually need to submit it. Use technology to your advantage: when writing essays, use a word processor and save them in a common folder. You will find that many of the applications require common information, if you conveniently store it electronically you can reuse info thru simple "cut and paste".
2) Use Resources Effectively: Scour websites like www.scholarships.com and www.fastweb.com for potential scholarships. If you do not have the highest SAT/ACT scores or the strongest GPA do not apply for the high dollar scholarships. The best and the brightest usually win the Microsoft and ATT scholarships. Try applying for the less competitive $500 to $5000 scholarships. If you win several smaller scholarships you could cover all or most of your expenses.
3) Be Positive and Persistent: Scholarship selection commitees receive hundreds/thousands of applications. You will receive many rejection letters, don't take it personally when you get knocked down. Brush yourself off and find more scholarships to apply for. Someone will eventually may say "YES"
When your teenager gets frustrated about not finding a summer job, tell them the story about our son. His summer efforts yielded more money than "flipping burgers" ever could have.