The job market is increasingly going remote, and it’s not just adults who are benefiting from a virtual workspace. Many teens are also foregoing in-person positions and are instead pursuing job opportunities where they can earn from the comfort of their own homes. With gas prices going up and infectious diseases swirling all around, who can blame them?
“Teenage workers have an opportunity ahead of them this summer,” says AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist for recruitment company Indeed. “The labor market right now is very tight and that is an advantage for teenage workers.” Even better, Konkel reports that the company has noted substantial wage gains, “particularly in the last few months.”
Teens who’d rather avoid mowing lawns or slinging burgers have plenty of virtual options for summer employment, instead. You just have to know where to look. Here are some great ideas.
1. Land a Virtual Internship
It’s never too early to get a “real” gig on your resume. Internships are a time-honored way to make inroads into a particular industry, or simply learn more about it. Konkel reports that Indeed has seen a significant uptick in remote internship postings in recent months. In fact, in March 2022, 8.7 percent of internship postings offered a remote work option. “This is substantially up from pre-pandemic,” she says. By comparison, only 0.9 percent of internships had remote benefits in March 2019, she notes.
Some of the top sectors for remote internships include software development, administrative work, sales and design. However, Konkel calls out marketing as the leader in remote internship positions, a benefit for any young person’s resume because it translates to so many industries. “Pretty much every business out there does marketing,” she says, adding that marketing is “a valuable skill set to have and understand.” Some internships are unpaid, or only offer a stipend, but it’s not a total loss because of the resume value they bring.
To find an online internship (or any other remote job) on Indeed, type in “remote” in the box marked “where” on Indeed’s homepage. You can fill in the “what” box on the same page with keywords for the positions you’re looking for (like “marketing”) or just put “online internships” or even leave the box blank to see every job on offer.
2. Become an Esports Commentator
The esports industry is doing gangbuster business, and the market is expected to grow another 21.3 percent by 2027. During the pandemic, Ryan Krichbaum was just 17 years old when he decided to go for a stretch goal and applied to be an esports commentator. Now 20, he has a whole roster of clients, like Team Liquid, PlayVS, EsportsU and more that put on tournaments like Pound, Glitch and Low Tide City.
As a “color commentator” for these tournaments, he provides analysis and play-by-play commentary. He does a lot of research on the front end and uses skills honed through years’ worth of debate club and speech classes to provide excellent commentary.
“When quarantine first started, I was kind of bored, so I started watching tournament broadcasts on TV and the internet,” he recalls. He quickly realized that he knew as much or more than the commentators about these games, so he started applying online for opportunities. “My name got out there more and more and I started getting higher-paying, better work, and it kept progressing from there.”
Now age 20, the University of Alabama, Huntsville, student is getting his degree in computer engineering, while also continuing as an esports commentator. Although he has done in-person events since the pandemic started to wane, he often works remotely with a camera and microphone, and much prefers it. “It’s definitely a lot easier when I do it remotely. I don’t have to worry about the crowd behind me being a distraction.”
And the pay? “I definitely make a lot more than somebody working at Chick-Fil-A so that’s pretty nice.” Plus, “I can work whenever I really want to,” he says. “Just depends on the opportunities I choose to take.”
To get started in the field, Krichbaum advises to simply hit the internet. Look for a tournament that’s local and small and trying to broadcast, then apply to be a commentator. If all goes well, you can “use that to build a resume and reel to present to larger gigs,” he says.
3. Sign Up with Some Survey Apps
Now, here’s something even younger teens (13+) can do. There are a handful of credible survey apps where users can earn anything from gift cards to PayPal cash for their time. Swagbucks is one of those that pays teens for “doing everyday activities, from sharing video content, to answering trivia and questionnaires, to discovering new mobile games and apps,” says Andrew Robinson with Prodege, the parent company of Swagbucks.com.
The company also does daily live trivia giveaways, as well as daily goals and team challenges to help motivate users. It can also be done around a person’s schedule. “Swagbucks should be something members can enjoy and earn with, while catching up on Netflix or hanging out in a waiting room,” Robinson explains.
Although Prodege has paid out more than $2 billion in rewards, Robinson is quick to manage expectations. “This is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme or any kind of employment replacement tool,” he says. “Rather, Swagbucks is a way to supplement other earning streams with rewarding moments and a little something extra.” One blogger estimated you could make $10-$20 in gift cards in a half-hour but cautioned against spending too much time on the site simply to get points.
4. Do Tasks Via Fiverr
If you’re at least 13 and have a budding talent for an in-demand skill, Fiverr is a fantastic option to kick off a freelance career. Anyone under 18, however, must use Fiverr by way of a parent/guardian account, with their permission.
People can hire a Fiverr freelancer for just about anything. For example, Trisha Diamond, senior director of customer success for the company says that “gigs,” as they’re called on Fiverr, have limitless options. “Teens who are confident in their skills playing video games can coach others how to improve. If an honor roll English student has a strong grasp on grammar, they can freelance as a proofreader. If a teen is knowledgeable and creative when it comes to making Tik Tok videos, they can help businesses grow their social media following,” Diamond says.
Fiverr users put up their own gig descriptions, complete with pay rates, so they don’t have to worry about anyone lowballing them or trying to trade services. You can browse the site to get an idea of what others are charging before setting your own rates. Keep in mind that Fiverr will take a percentage of what you earn.
5. Sell Stuff
Whether you’re a one-of-a-kind artist with crafts to peddle, or simply have extra stuff lying around the house, consider becoming a sales agent. Post items online via Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay and other sites to make extra cash. Etsy is a great option for handmade pieces. Just be sure to follow all safety guidelines.
6. Tutor Online
Some kids just need a little extra help, and summer is the perfect time to catch them up. If you’re an ace at a particular subject, like math or language arts, put the word out in your community that you’re available for virtual tutoring via Facetime, Zoom or another platform. Older teens (typically 18+) can apply for sites like TutorMe or Varsity Tutors. For both services, the pay is around $16 per hour.
7. Become an Influencer
You don’t have to have the following of Charli d’Amelio or Kylie Jenner to make some money. If you’re passionate about say, cooking or makeup, you could eventually get paid for posts you put on Instagram, YouTube or Tik Tok. Even a “nano influencer” (someone with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers) can make money. Vox reported in 2018 that a nano influencer could make between $30,00 and $60,000 per year. However, it will take some work to get to the “influencer” stage, what with posting videos or images (often), tagging them correctly, analyzing your metrics and pitching brands you want to work with for “sponsored posts.” (YouTube influencers also make money from ads that run before or during their videos.)
To get started, figure out which social media platform you like best and spend some time looking at what the top influencers do there. Then determine what your content focus is going to be. There’s plenty of free advice on the internet on how to get started as an influencer.