8 Unique (and Fun) Summer Jobs for Teens

aaron_image1I was a fairly ambitious teenager. One summer, I wrote a couple nearby golf courses asking for a job. I told ’em that I’d work for free – all they had to do was give me free golf. Sound like a deal huh? I thought so. Fortunately enough, of those 2 letters I sent out, one called me up.

Aaron? This is John at Thrifty Golf Course. I got your letter and would like to meet with you in person. I think I got a job for you.”

I was elated. 

I met with John (not his real name) and we hit it off. He was the teaching pro at the course and he wanted an assistant. The assistant would set-up for his lessons each night and then track down the golf balls the students would send flying every which way. It would be a dangerous job, but somebody had to do it.

I was hired and – since the course didn’t give away free golf – was paid an hourly rate. However, many nights after work, the teaching pro and I would jump on the course and play a few. It was a great, unique summer job.

Today, teens are struggling a bit to find a job. CNNMoney reported that just 26% of 16-19 year-olds had a job in 2011 (down from 45% in 2000). While some may debate whether it is a good idea for a student to have a job when enrolled in school – most wouldn’t argue against a summertime gig.

Which got me to thinking about some unique and cool jobs teens could do today. With the job market being a little tougher, creativity will go a long ways.

unique summer jobs for teens

1. Craigslist Lister

I actually got this idea from my mom. She lives in a small town and there are a lot of older folks who still aren’t online OR aren’t very computer savvy. A kid could deliver some postcards around the neighbor – preferably targeting the older neighbors – and tout his/her service of listing items the person would like to get rid of in return for a cut of the profits. If word spread of your sales and superb service, this could be quite lucrative.

2. All-in-one TV Remote Programmer

Shark Tank’s, Mark Cuban came up with this on his blog, in a post entitled, “how to make money as a student“. He advises tech savvy teens (I suppose that goes without saying today) to become the go-to expert on popular brands of all-in-one remotes and then to offer their services to program peoples remotes. “No one wants to take the time to learn how to program the stupid remote,” Cuban writes. Produce some biz cards, bring them to your local electronics store and convince the manager to keep a stack there and whenever someone buys a remote, perhaps the cashier can put your card in their bag or let the customer know of your service. You could also provide a small cut of profits for their advertising for you.

3. Dog Walker/Sitter

This may be more appropriate for a larger city, but if you have a way with animals and love dogs, this could be a great gig for you. Advertise on Craigslist, at a nearby pet store and put your service on a card and post it on the bulletin board at church, the community center, library or the supermarket.

4. Golf Swing Videographer

Being a golfer, this is something that I wish I had thought to do when I was a teen. I actually haven’t seen this offered at any course. Most golfers I know love to rehearse their swings in front of a mirror, but, many have never seen it in video. Ask if you could set-up a table at a busy, local golf course (most larger 18-hole courses have a driving range) to film golfer’s swing. After they pay you – say $5 or so for 2/3 shots – ask for their name/email, load it up on YouTube later (setting it to private) and send them the link. You could also charge another $5-10 extra and show their swing next to a pro golfer if you have a video editing program (I recommend Coach’s Eye or Camtasia by TechSmith)

5. Redbox Errand Boy/Girl

I love Redbox. But, sometimes it’s a hassle when you need to return them after viewing the next day to avoid the extra charge. First-world problems, I know. But since most Redbox’s need to be returned by 9PM – a teen who had access to wheels could offer a service for returning these videos for people. I admit, getting the word out on your service might be tricky – but you could first try posting in Craigslist, near a Redbox location or distribute flyers/postcards. Maybe you could branch out into grocery/other errands too.

6. Smartphone/Tablet Tutor

With more and more of the elder generation getting tablets and smartphones, there is a need for patient people to teach these fine folks the ins/outs of using their devices. A teen could offer classes at a library, advertise on Craigslist and provide business cards to nearby electronics stores.

7. Transitional Home Cleaner

Lots of people are renting out homes because they were/are underwater on them so they don’t want to sell – but needed to move. There’s even a service that is booming here in the Twin Cities called Renters Warehouse that helps these homeowners manage their properties. When new renters leave and others come in, the house needs a good cleaning. I would imagine this would be a great job for a detail-orientated teen who enjoys cleaning. You could also find realtors looking to help homeowners stage and clean their properties for sale.

8. Buy and Resell from Craigslist

Recently I wrote about how you can be alerted to when free stuff is being given away by your neighbors. An enterprising teen could be alerted of these freebies and grab the good stuff and then resell it. Market economy at its finest!

I tried to keep these to more unique and interesting ways that teens could make money this summer (or really, any time for that matter!). Do you have any other ideas to share?

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  1. These are all great ideas Aaron! I think our six year old could do #6, as she knows how to use it better than we do. ;) Seriously though, if they’re entrepreneurial enough, I’d say find a need in your neighborhood – like the dog walking, yard work, watching after a house when people are on vacation and start offering that as a service.

  2. Allison says:

    I was unemployed for six months and did some of these jobs. I did eBay consignment and it was great because I learned to code HTML and I became a power seller on eBay. Now I get discount on shipping. It’s tricky getting they right type of people because often time what i found with “listers” craigslist or otherwise, it takes a long time to establish trust and a reputation/feedback is always at stake. I have had international dispute via eBay on small details. So beware that everything is disclosed and the transaction/arrangement is clearly thought through before listing for people.

    You don’t want to be in a dispute over one scuff on a shoe. Yes, I have done this and it lasted two weeks. In the end, eBay sided with me because the seller did not view all the pictures (I listed 12 pictures).

  3. Great ideas, Aaron!! We haven’t found our oldest a fun and unique summer job yet, but in the winter, she works with a company that provides reindeer sleigh rides and petting zoos, and she’s a “keeper of the reindeer”. She absolutely loves it!

  4. My son is 15, and is looking for a job this summer. It seems to me that a lot more places require you to be 16 to work these days…..he’s having a tough time finding a ‘traditional’ sort of parttime job. He may just have to get a bit more creative….

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