When I was kid, there were a few options that were popular for summer employment. I could either get a paper route or corral carts at the local grocery store. Since I had more time than money, I ended up pursuing both of these options.
Currently, a much smaller number of households receive home delivery. And, more and more people are getting their groceries delivered to their homes. In addition, the retail apocalypse is very real with a large number of stores closing each year. So, retail options for kids are limited.
However, there is one area that is continuing to create new opportunities - technology. While we often think about jobs in technology as only being available professionally, with just a bit of entrepreneurial hustle; there are likely more opportunities than one might imagine.
Let’s face it, there are many small businesses that are trying to figure out how to interact and engage with their customers online. While, there are some businesses that are excelling at this because they are more online focused; many others could use some help.
21st century kids have more time. This time is being spent engaging and interacting with their friends online. By shifting your focus, one can start to utilize this knowledge to develop useful skills that can be improved and refined over time.
We often hear about the ambitious kid who started a lawn mowing service at 12 and ultimately hire all her friends to mow the lawns in the neighborhood. I believe there is a similar opportunity to provide technology services to small businesses.
Businesses of all sizes need to tell their story. The traditional ways of learning about new businesses are changing rapidly. Advertising dollars are being shifted to new platforms which is creating tons of pressure on traditional distribution channels. Because of this shift, businesses are looking for those who can intelligently tell their story.
Since the internet has helped democratize access to information, 21st century kids can use online resources to learn about the art & science of blogging. However, blogging is not simply limited to storytelling.
Instead, there is also an element of getting the story in front of the right people to build an audience. To do this, aspiring bloggers would be wise to learn more about search engine optimization (SEO), Google Analytics and content marketing.
Given the large need, there are many services, like Medium, that are available that will enable 21st century kids to begin blogging without needing the technical skills to build a website for their client.
Social media manager
Everyone is spending more and more time online. One of the most popular things for people to do online is engage on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, there is such a great opportunity for businesses to better connect with their customers.
Unfortunately, being successful at social media requires time. To build community, you have to be present, engage and not just constantly offer your goods and services. That one way, anti-social strategy won’t gain you any followers and will probably turn prospective customers off quickly.
21st century kids are learning these platforms as consumers. So, if they are able to translate the content that works for them personally into the professional realm, they might find that many businesses would jump at the chance to work with them.
The key sensitivity will be understanding the concept of digital permanence. Many businesses will be hesitant or reluctant to work with a young person because they are concerned that their communication won’t be professional or engaging.
In addition, they will be worried about a young person’s personal stream potentially impacting their business. As an aspiring social media manager, it is up to you to not only communicate the positives about how you will engage with their customers on social media but also alleviate their concerns.
Digital Photographer & Videographer
A picture is worth a 1,000 words. Currently, one could argue that the right picture or the right video is worth 1,000 views. New media platforms prioritize great pictures and videos because their customers prefer them.
In a world where everyone is starved for time, it can be really difficult to even read through 140 characters on Twitter. But, a compelling YouTube video, Instagram picture or Tik-Tok micro video can be consumed and engaged with quickly.
However, once again the small business owner bumps into an issue. How does he/she create great photos and videos? They could hire a professional which can cost a significant amount of money. Or, they could consider a 21st century kid who probably already has a great camera and a lot of extra time to practice capturing the right shots and scenes.
Simply having a camera is not enough. To really tell the story of the business, you must spend time with the owner and customers to see get a sense of why they buy. From there, you can storyboard a scene and then inexpensively capture the shots or the footage to tell the story.
With the raw footage, it then becomes important to make things look good. From editing to adding effects, this is where you can really differentiate yourself. A business owner isn’t going to have a ton of time to take pictures or edit videos. So, if you can demonstrate your ability to tell a story, you will likely earn yourself an opportunity.
While there aren’t currently many formal avenues for 21st century kids to leverage their digital native knowledge, I believe that with a bit of entrepreneurial hustle they can engage with prospective clients to offer a service that many are desperately in need of.
Given that they have an abundance of time, especially during the summer season, it might make sense to get from behind the screen and meet local business owners who are in your city.
By doing some research on their digital footprint (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), you can show that you understand that their are some gaps in what they are currently doing. At this point, is where you offer to improve the current issues while making some money and gaining experience in the process.
The key thing to remember is that getting your first client is going to be difficult. However, if you work to exceed her expectations, she will reward your with referrals to work with other clients. And, if you work to iterate and improve your skills, you can continue to do much of this work during the school year.
Here’s to a great summer of learning!