The other day The New York Times published an article on teens and the recession. The article focused on teen spending practices as a result of the downturn in the economy, how home finances are having an impact on teen spending, and how typical teen oriented stores are faring during the recession.
The article was an interesting look at teens and their spending practices, but it also got me thinking about how teens earn the money that they spend. That thinking led me to another New York Times article. This one is on teen entrepreneurs, those teens that decide the traditional teen employment – jobs at fast food restaurants, as camp counselors, and so on – isn’t for them. The article, published in June of this year, states that “Unemployment for 16- to 19-year-olds is at its highest rate since 1992.” Which means of course that those traditional teen jobs might not readily be available when teens go job-hunting.
It also means that the library can be the perfect place to help teen entrepreneurs gain the information and skills they need in order to setup a business. This can be accomplished through a web presence such as My Own Biz from the Brooklyn Public Library, or perhaps the library:
- Organizes a Skype conversation with a local entrepreneur who can answer teen questions about what it takes to start a business.
- Hosts a Skype call with a successful teen entrepreneur who can talk to his or her peers about the life of running one’s own business when a teenager.
- Publishes a series of guest blog posts, written by entrepreneurs young and old, and filled with information and tips on getting started and making a business work.
- Starts a teen entrepreneur wiki where teens add resources, ideas, and content they find and develop related to starting a business.
- Holds classes on topics that can help a teen get a business up and running. These of course could be classes on basic business fundamentals, or these could be on topics like setting up your business web site, graphic design for small businesses, and so on.
- Hires teens who want to go into business for themselves to lead workshops, create web sites, develop web-based applications, create a teen library brand, and so on.
There are a lot of ways, beyond handing a teenager a book, a magazine article, or a list of resources, that librarians can employ to help teens gain entrepreneurial skills. While it might be easy to provide teens with bibliography of resources for young entrepreneurs, that isn’t the best you can do. Entrepreneurial teens need the library’s help just as much as the adults who daily use the library’s job resources. You can support teens in their entrepreneurial efforts by recognizing they are a part of the community and providing them with more than printed materials to help them succeed in their efforts.