Published May 20th, 2015
Lynn's Top Five
By Lynn Ballou, CFP(r)
Lynn Ballou is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) professional and co-owner of Ballou Plum Wealth Advisors, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm in Lafayette. Lynn is also a Registered Principal and Branch Manager with LPL Financial (LPL). The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendation for any individual. Financial Planning offered through Ballou Plum Wealth Advisors, A Registered Investment Advisor and a separate entity. Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC.
I'm hearing from a lot of clients that their college-bound kids are having a very tough time this summer finding meaningful work to do, paid or not. This is so frustrating for parents in our community who have worked tirelessly to instill the value of money and time in their kids, and even more so for their children who want to be useful and accomplished citizens with enhanced future employment prospects. My thought is this: If nothing created by someone else is forthcoming, create your own internship! Here are some ideas that others have shared with me over the years, and hopefully will resonate with you, on how to go about this.
Foster a pet. If you have a love of animals, giving a pet a loving home for the summer could be a great experience. Often you'll be asked to bring your new buddy to various pet adoption venues, and help place them in a permanent loving home. You can also volunteer in pet shelters. Whether it's walking a dog or cleaning out kennels and cages, there's much work to be done. Your local veterinarian can help you with contact information for shelters, as can pet stores who often host adoption days.
Volunteer in assisted living facilities. Time can pass slowly for us when we live in even the best group assisted living situations, and having activities to do makes life much more fun. You and some friends who are talented in theatre arts, for example, could put together a "Revue." Call or visit the managers of these types of group homes and offer to put on a weekly show. Another idea: Volunteer to come read, sing, play music or create art. Whatever your talents are, they can be shared and enjoyed by many who are living in a group situation.
Help with literacy. Contact your local library to learn about how to help someone with English as their second language learn to read. Or volunteer in a community where English is not the primary language to help people navigate their lives in an English-speaking world. One of my client's children volunteered her time to assist a Spanish-speaking family friend go to doctor's visits and interpret instructions from the medical team to her when the woman's daughter was unable to go due to work conflicts.
Get involved in church or temple activities: Check with your local community churches and synagogues, even if you are not a member, and ask what charitable work they do and if you can lend a hand. It might be as simple as collecting canned goods in your neighborhood for their coordinated food bank initiative. Or it might involve helping out someone who is temporarily incapacitated by watering their plants, mowing their lawn, and maybe preparing a few simple meals.
Become a camp counselor. Some of these are paying jobs and some are not. And most are probably filled by now. But guess what? It's not unusual at every camp that some of the college kids who serve as camp counselors (and work in other camp functions such as cooks and office workers) bail out on their jobs at some time during the summer. It's not too late to call around to local summer camp programs and even some of the live-in camp programs in the mountains, for example, and offer to be an "alternate" if someone gets sick or leaves. You never know - you could be the perfect replacement and then next summer have priority as a first hire. This is great for someone outgoing with a flexible schedule.
These are just a few, very simple ideas. If you are a college student reading this, my advice is to narrow down your top three or four interests - hobbies and studies - and think about where you could add value in your community while focusing on these areas. And remember, by taking the initiative to offer your services to those in need, not only are these fantastic resume builders, but you may actually come across a field of interest or new hobby you never considered before! The experience of reaching out alone will help you as you navigate future job opportunities with your presentation skills and poise. Plus the contacts and friends you make can be invaluable to you for years to come. Wishing you much success!

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