In high school, students are expected to spend time on homework assignments, prepare for exams, participate in extracurricular activities, and help out with chores at home. While these responsibilities are important, teens can also develop job skills and work experience that will serve them for a lifetime.
Build Job Skills & Experience Through Volunteer Work
Volunteering is the perfect way to gain experience and develop the skills you will need in the work place when you are an adult. Volunteering is one of a kind work that you don’t need to be a certain age to do. Though some organizations will require that a parent or other adult accompany you – at least until they get to know you and your work ethic.
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My daughter started volunteering at our local art museum when she was just 13. The best part about it was that she was able to set her own schedule and work as many hours as she wished. In the summer months, she worked 1-2 days each week depending on whether there was a special event. During the school year, she pulled back to once a month.Volunteering is generally regarded with as much respect as paid work. Employers consider it to be as valuable job experience because they know that volunteers have a range of duties and are highly motivated. Often, volunteer positions can also evolve into paid positions.
College admissions officers are also impressed by teens who volunteer. Donating your time shows you are a dedicated and compassionate person – a characteristic that will set you apart from other applicants.
Volunteering will provide you so much more than a good mark on your application, however. You will also learn so much, including:
- You’ll meet people of diverse ages and backgrounds.
- You may encounter a variety of viewpoints and perspectives.
- You’ll observe how people deal with adversity and conflict.
- Your own skills and abilities will be tested in a real-world setting.
- You’ll gain new skills and experience.
- You’ll have a new activity to talk about when meeting friends.
Build Job Skills Through an Apprenticeship or Internship
Apprenticeships and internships are similar. An apprenticeship is a paid position that involves working closely with a supervisor or master craftsman, who trains you to learn a skill or trade. It is a formal method of training for a skilled occupation.
At the end of an apprenticeship, you will be awarded a certificate of Occupational Proficiency (recognized by the Secretary of Labor) which articulates that you have participated in the program and corresponding classroom training and have thereby acquired a particular set of skills. Apprenticeships are available in a variety of fields, including:
- blacksmithing and welding
- graphic design
- appliance repair
- furniture repair and restoration
An internship is a temporary agreement with a profession person, company, or organization. In exchange for your time and labor, you get actual on-the-job experience, plus the guidance of a supervisor who can serve as a mentor. You may work a few weeks or a few months – depending upon the agreement.
While most internships are unpaid, there are some that offer stipends or pay (minimum wage or a few hundred dollars per month). While an internship does not necessarily need to be in the field of work you desire but it is certainly a plus. Internships are often available through government agencies – check the websites of the Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife, Watershed Associations, etc.
Share Your Job Skills in a Résumé
When you are ready to seek out a position – whether it is an internship or paid employment, you will want a résumé. Your résumé should serve as an at-a-glance summary of what you’ve accomplished so far. This is your time to brag about yourself and all you have done!
Begin by making a list of the extracurricular activities, passion projects, and work experiences in which you have taken part. Write down all of your responsibilities for each major activity and the skills you have learned – whether you learned them from your parents, a mentor, or in the classroom.
Drafting a great résumé takes time. There are a multitude of templates available online. For youth, a single page résumé is sufficient as they don’t yet have the experience to warrant a second page. The key is to be concise and to use strong action words when describing the key contributions made. This video featuring Amanda Augustine is an excellent overview of how to put together a résumé that pops.
You may wish to consider Creating a Student Resume with Basic Invite, they also have a fabulous selection of stationery products and each template is fully customizable – both the text and the graphics.
For some teens, the traditional four-year high school curriculum is just what they need. Others would benefit more from nontraditional learning experiences—if they knew how to find them and what to do next. Regardless of what path you may consider, I highly suggest the book, The Teenager’s Guide to School Outside the Box.
This practical, inspiring book explores the world of alternative learning, giving teens the knowledge and tools they need to make good choices. It is about enhancing the education teens are already getting and making the most of their time in and out of school.