The well-paying summer jobs that in previous years seemed like a birthright have grown scarce, and pre-professional internships are disappearing as companies cut back across the board. Recession-strapped parents don’t always have the means or will to bankroll starter apartments or art tours of Tuscany.Um ... Has no one thought about volunteering? Instead of getting bored trying to pass the time with Scrabble and DVDs, you could help where it's needed (and for many nonprofits, it's needed now more than ever), plus give yourself something to put on your resume that's going to look a hell of a lot better than empty space.
So many college students and recent graduates are heading to where they least expected: back home, and facing an unfamiliar prospect: downtime, maybe too much of it. To a high-achieving generation whose schedules were once crammed with extracurricular activities meant to propel them into college, it feels like an empty summer — eerie, and a bit scary.
... Across the country, there are countless tales like that of Morgan Henderson, a student at the University of San Francisco, who, along with friends, planned a big road trip to Las Vegas this summer. With so few of the friends finding jobs, they downgraded plans to a road trip to Reno, then to no road trip at all. They’re spending time watching DVDs at one another’s houses.
Or Kathryn Estrada, a high school senior in Hialeah, Fla., who has no summer job after Circuit City, which employed her during the school year, went out of business. She is finding that even this early in the summer, attempts to while away the hours playing Scrabble and Cranium have grown stale. “We all just wish school would start so we would have something to do,” she said.
I have to thank my mom here, who would never have let me sit around like this. Before my sister and I were old enough to have paying jobs, my mom required us to spend our summers volunteering -- and we did. I volunteered at the local library (where I enjoyed overhearing a parent tell her toddler son that he wasn't allowed to read Curious George books because he was a bad influence, something that amuses me to this day), at a vet clinic (where I discovered I was wrong about wanting to be a vet), and as a candy striper at a hospital (where I discovered I hated candy striping). I thought she was totally tyrannical and ridiculous to require this, especially since all my friends were spending their summers at the pool. But I have a work ethic now, something I definitely was not born with, plus I've continued to volunteer on-and-off ever since, and her being a hard-ass on this issue probably had something to do with that. If nothing else, it gave me a head start on understanding how the work world functioned, something most of my friends didn't get until a lot later.
(That said, for the record, I'm a big fan of lounging about unproductively when/if life allows you to, but (a) the people in this article are complaining about boredom, and (b) since they're facing a highly competitive job market, it wouldn't be a bad idea to do what they can to make themselves stronger candidates.)