With an uncertain year stretching before them, some teenagers are trying to extend summer internships, or land new ones. Others are scrambling to secure temporary work—any work—in the midst of a worldwide recession and hoping the pandemic dies down enough for travel to be possible again before the next academic year rolls around.
Londoner Sachin Thuraisingham, 19, completed his A-Levels (the end of high school in the UK) last summer. The plan was to spend the first eight months of his gap year working to save money to fund four months of travel around South America. He wanted to see a part of the world he’d never been to and to put his Spanish study to good use. And then, hopefully, go on to study psychology at Oxford.
“I felt I wasn’t quite ready to go to university this year,” Thuraisingham told Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. “I wanted working experience.”
But the economic turmoil that came with COVID-19 has made that hard. A hoped-for stint at a local fishmonger’s—working the till and learning to “fillet and do fish stuff”—never materialized. He talked to a family looking for childcare, but they wanted someone more permanent.
He’s just started working at a local doctor’s office, doing administrative work. And preparing after hours for an upcoming Oxford entry exam.
“There’s not too much I can do. Mulling over it isn’t really going to help,” Thuraisingham said. “[I] just put my head down and hope for the best.”
Come January, he’s got a stint as a teaching assistant at a school lined up. And he’s hoping that by April or so, things will have improved enough for him to make it to South America after all.
Elsewhere, the pandemic has thrown up some innovative suggestions for how to match young people at loose ends with the needs of society.