We all know summer is a time for sun, beaches, reading, as well as creating memorable moments with friends and family. But summer is also an important time for kids to try their hands at working in the real world, something that’s been proven to be beneficial beyond the extra money that flows in each week.
I write children’s books that introduce the world of entrepreneurship and business to kids. My book series “From an Idea to…” shares the stories of how LEGO, Nike, Disney and Google came to be and in my latest book, “IDEA MAKERS: 15 Fearless Female Entrepreneurs,” I explore the startup stories behind female-founded companies such as 23andMe, Carol’s Daughter, Blavity and many more. In most cases, these famous founders got their drive for success during the summertime!
For example, Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, ran her own makeshift babysitting club outside the Clearwater Beach Hotel in her hometown of Clearwater, Florida. For three years, Sara made good money watching guest’s kids on the beach while their parents relaxed, until the hotel’s manager eventually realized what she was doing and kicked her off the property for good.
Heidi Zak, the founder of Third Love, worked for a farmer each summer at Tom Tower’s Farm Market in upstate New York, where she learned skills like how to price products, how to greet customers and how to arrange different colored fruits and vegetables so no two colors were ever next to each other.
Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop, made and sold chocolate chip cookies at her family’s farm stand in the Hampton’s each summer, eventually earning enough money to put herself through college and buy her first car.
So, what’s right for your crew at home? Here are my personal favorite summer jobs for kids:
CADDYING: Most kids can start caddying at age 13. Caddying builds physical strength, communication skills, confidence, patience, and can lead to a great network, which is especially helpful later in life. As a golfer myself, I loved caddying in college. And while I was the only female caddy at the golf course back in the mid-1990s, I’m happy to report that more girls are finding caddying the perfect summer job (including my own daughter). Caddies can also earn scholarship money through organizations like the Evans Scholars Foundation. Other famous people who caddied as kids include President Bill Clinton, Carson Daly, Johnny Carson and billionaire Ray Dalio.
CAMP COUNSELOR: Camp counselors can range in responsibility and time commitment, but all counselors learn valuable lifelong skills such as resiliency, communication, problem solving, and leadership. Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner was a camp counselor and went on to turn the Walt Disney Company around from almost bankruptcy to a billion-dollar organization.
VOLUNTEERING: Maybe your child’s passion lies in helping others. Volunteering at a nonprofit builds important lifelong skills and will give your teenager a meaningful summer. Whether it’s helping at an animal shelter, garden, state park, hospital, food bank, or senior center, young volunteers learn new skills while also experiencing the ins and outs of the industry they are working in. Volunteering has also been proven to lower stress and improve mental health, something all teenagers can benefit from these days.
ENTREPERNEURSHIP: What better way for a child to jump into the world of entrepreneurship than by doing it themselves. Sure, lemonade stands are an easy one-hour journey into making a few bucks but how about starting a lawn-cutting business with weekly customers, invoices and advertising involved? Or for that teenager with a gift for jewelry-making, photography or drawing, try selling your creation at a local farmer’s market. Maybe your child takes a page from Sara Blakely’s book and starts a babysitting camp in the backyard or at a nearby park. The opportunities are endless and the benefits vast.
As your children tries their hand at different summer jobs, they will certainly have both good and bad days. Remember to give them independence as they hone their own skills, but also share stories from your own summer jobs – both the good and the bad. Knowing that mom or dad didn’t always have it pulled together as a kid and maybe even screwed up a few times, is often the most important thing a child can hear when getting through those first summer jobs.
Lowey Bundy Sichol is an award-winning children’s author with an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. www.LoweyBundySichol.com @LoweySichol