With the economy still down, summer jobs for teens are even harder to come by. According to CNN Money, teen employment was down 40 percent last June.
As we get closer to the end of the school year, many teens are considering volunteering as an alternative to jobs.
According to the United States Department of Labor, the number of volunteers has decreased 2.4 percent over the last four years, and many organizations still need volunteers for the summer.
For other articles about finding summer jobs, see Summer jobs for teens: Difficult but maybe not impossible from the TC Daily Planet and
Teen job market worst on record from ThreeSixty
“I like the way I feel when I am helping out people that are going through hard times,” said Woodbury High School junior Lexie Gutzmann.
Gutzmann volunteers at “Project Home,” a program run through her church that helps to feed and provide a home for the homeless. She and her sister help with food and play with kids.
Math and Science Academy sophomore Nicola Mehta also volunteered with kids. She was a side walker at a therapeutic horse ranch for kids with disabilities.
“I got to work with kids and horses at the same time,” said Mehta. “And it gets to be on a college transcript.”
With many teens not able to make money for college, adding to college applications has become another priority.
Kris Roach, director of admissions and financial aid at the University of St. Thomas, said applicants who’ve volunteered show they are well-rounded people.
“We believe developing the whole person is critical and that means admitting students who are well rounded adds a great deal to our community and ultimately adds to the student’s success in this environment and in life,” Roach said in an email.
But teens who volunteer find it has other benefits too.
“Yeah, it is nice if [colleges] look at [volunteer work] because it may look good,” said North St. Paul High School sophomore Kayla Pilarski, who helps coach a youth hockey team. “But I just do it because I like helping people.”
Volunteer work can be personally enriching. With opportunities in different and unfamiliar areas, new – and sometimes hard – experiences are inevitable for volunteers.
While working at the therapeutic ranch, Mehta and her co-workers helped a girl with a brain tumor. When she didn’t return, they weren’t sure what happened to her. “It’s the not knowing [that’s hard],” Mehta said.
However, volunteer work can be fun. Opportunities are so varied that volunteers can choose something that interests them and that they will enjoy.
“I love hockey and helping people out, especially helping kids,” said Pilarski. “And I have such a great time with the people I coach with.”