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8 Ways Out-of-Work Teens Can Have Productive Summers

Teen jobs are scarce, and if your kid is among the millions who won't be able to find work, there are still ways she can salvage her summer. Plus, she'll build skills that will put her at the top of next season's hiring list and give her a leg up on the college application process.

Kids willing to work without pay can still see big rewards, namely the development of important new skills. "Even something as simple as watching children at church or a day camp a few hours a week will make it easier to find paying work next year," says Marie Schwartz, president and founder of TeenLife Media, Cambridge, Massachusetts. "In an interview, she'll be able to say, 'Yes, I do have experience with kids.'" While working for free may not be what your teen had in mind, research shows that kids who volunteer have a higher sense of self-worth than those who don't and are more likely to say they'll finish college, boosting future earning power. Steer your teen toward causes she's already enthusiastic about—kids, animals, or the environment, for example. And have her check out, which offers small grants to fund great volunteer ideas applicants come up with on their own.