Learning through doing and modeling. So many of us already see and incorporate the advantages of this form of learning into our homeschooling. And apprenticeships and internships can take this to the next level for our older kids. Have you considered incorporating this into your fall schedule? Now is a great time to explore options for fall!
You should start by examining what your teen is passionate about. Are they in love with animals, motorcycles, or starting a business? Or do they already show a yearning to become a vet or a photographer? Now is the perfect time for them to get hands-on experience in their areas of interest. For example, perhaps they don’t totally understand what it means to be a vet, to see injured and sick animals every day. Perhaps the experience will deepen their passion and motivation to help, but what if it isn’t what they expected or thought it would be? Maybe they would prefer another animal-loving profession or another path entirely. Exploring what it really means to be in a particular job before spending years in school can be a real time, money, and stress saver! Encourage your kids to try multiple types of internships. This time in their lives is for exploring all of their passions!
I know of one young adult who chose a multiple internship track instead of graduate school. Instead of committing to a pricey program, he chose to get 12 one-month internships in his field of interest. Over the course of this year, he worked with the top people in various companies as his version of an MBA. On top of that, he ran a Kickstarter to cover the expenses. The experience and connections he collected throughout that year are amazing. I tell you this because the opportunities are out there and you and your kid can create a program that fits their needs and desires.
If your child is considering starting their own business, which is a possibility we should be giving all of our children, an internship is actually the BEST way to learn how to build and run a business of their own. I firmly believe that in our current economy and social situation, giving our children knowledge on how to create income without a j.o.b. is super important, even if their chosen careen path is leading towards working for someone else. That being said, I have heard it stated multiple times that if your teen wants to study entrepreneurship, the industry is moving so quickly that the college textbooks are out of date before they even go to print. The skills of this industry, though, are readily available online and through mentorship. An internship could be just the right first step.
Homeschooling makes this type of opportunity so easy. One of the greatest advantages homeschooling families have is our flexible schedule! Our kids can be available when most other high school and college students are in class, which allows for many more options and serves as a serious bonus when discussing this with potential mentors. Be sure to mention this in any interviews or discussions.
So how can you get started looking for an internship?
There’s always the internet, of course, but the best opportunities usually come through people you know and who already know your kids. Let’s use the vet example again. One of my daughter’s friends at 13 was able to volunteer to help a local vet for several hours a week. At first she just swept, ran little errands, and watched. But over the next several years, her responsibilities broadened and included creating her own pet sitting business on the side. By 16, she was running the front desk as a hired employee as well as being a valued volunteer at a local animal rescue shelter. By the time she was applying to one of those highly coveted veterinary programs, she had many years of practical experience and excellent references.
Starting to do something she loved for a couple hours a week at age 13 made a huge impact on her education. The people in their local clinic knew her passion for animals. She offered her help, just a little at first. Because they knew her and her helpfulness, the progression into a regular job was quite easy. So ask yourself: who knows your kids and their passions? Where could they start for an hour here and there helping out? This is a lesson in being proactive as well. Homeschoolers tend to be self-starters anyway. Ask yourself how this might transfer into a volunteer situation.
For older, working-age kids, it’s all about networking. Start asking around, both you and your kids, to see if they could shadow someone in a position your child would one day like to have. Don’t underestimate the educational opportunities of being a go-for and coffee-getter. These are great opportunities for your kids to be able to watch and see how things really work. Often they are able to ask questions and are in the right place at the right time to learn top-level ideas and methods. If the person is a good job match for an internship, they will jump at the opportunity to mentor someone. If they say no, it likely wouldn't be a good match anyway. Keep asking around. As a quick reminder, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, is an excellent read for guiding your teens into a career path.
Now is the perfect time to start the conversation with your teen and with your friends about potential opportunities this fall! So let’s get moving…it’s time to start networking!