The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that the unemployment rate for teens this summer is expected to be 26.4 percent–the highest number since they began tracking in 1948. Double that number and you begin to come close to the unemployment rate for black and Hispanic teens. Summer jobs that many of us were accustomed to growing up are virtually non-existent. Research shows a direct correlation to criminal activity and lack of meaningful work experience among teens.
What’s the solution?
We could demand that the federal government allocate more dollars for summer employment programs and make sure that the state spends the money wisely. This political option should be pursued. As a business coach and someone who built a multi-million dollar company in my 20s, I suggest that all of us can also pursue a practical approach as well. Instead of helping a teen find a job, how about helping them to create one?
Here’s what you can do to help a teen or young person start their own business this summer.
1) Listen for their Passion. Teens have their own unique voice, dress and style. I know that you despise the tongue-ring, tattoo and sagging pants. A constant attempt to correct their behavior prevents you from listening to their dreams, desires and goals. Despite any outward appearance of apathy, all teens have something that inspires them. There is an activity that they will cause them to jump out of bed at 6:00am. Listen carefully and you can uncover it.
2) Connect Passion to Project. Find a two-month project. You can keep your teens interest by showing how they can achieve tangible results in a specific period of time. It’s not always about the money. Not everyone is motivated by money. Maybe there is a service project that a young person could take the lead-on. Cleaning-up a park, preparing food for the homeless and reading to children are examples of projects that can occupy a teen and look good on their college application.
3) Bring their Friends. Peer pressure is the most powerful force on the planet. If you really want to keep a teen involved then make sure to invite their friends. They know which friends will take this business or service opportunity seriously. Any disagreements that arise serve as opportunities to improve their conflict resolution skills. The team approach will also help them to recognize and appreciate each others gifts and talents. That “shy” kid who they avoid may have the graphic design skills they need to start a clothing line.
4) Recruit a Mentor. Now that you have a team and idea in place, you can significantly increase their odds for success by asking a business person or executive to serve as a summer mentor. It’s best if the individual had some experience in the industry that your teens plan to pursue. You could contact Score, chambers of commerce, local retailers or Rotary clubs to find a mentor.