You're out of school for the summer, teen unemployment is almost 25 percent, and you still don't have a job.
This is a peculiarly American problem. In most of the rest of the world, summer vacations are shorter, leaving less time for work. In France, for instance, vacations are only six weeks, and teens try to stay with relatives outside the city.
In America, summer vacation lasts the better part of three months, and teens work -- either to earn spending money, contribute to college tuition payments, or simply because they think that they should have a job.
These days, summer jobs are less plentiful, due to the slow economy and a higher minimum wage. It's easier for a teenager to be employable at a wage of $5.15, the 2006 minimum, than to find someone to hire you at $7.25, the current minimum wage.
But just because no one has hired you doesn't mean you can't earn money. You can start your own business, give it a name and give yourself the title of president. If it grows, you can employ friends and siblings, and keep it going for the rest of the year.
Eva, for instance, who is thinking of spending the summer baby-sitting, could expand to plant watering and pet care, and picking up mail when people go on vacation. One possible name for her company: Leave It to Eva.
What about some other ideas?
Computers. Teens, you may not know it, but you have a comparative advantage in computers. You could help older people set up email or social networking accounts, figure out Twitter and iPods, build a website, organize digital photos on a computer, or construct spreadsheets for bills and expenses.
Tutoring. You may not get straight A's in school, but you probably know more about a subject than those two or three years younger than you. And some of their parents might want their children to get academic help over the summer.
Bicycle repair. People throw out perfectly good bicycles that, with a little cleaning, grease and tube repair, can be almost as good as new. Some people have old bikes in their basements that they would like collected, and some cities are even willing to have discarded bicycles removed from their dump. You could mend them and sell them on Craigslist.
Yard service and car maintenance. What people value most is their time. Some of them don't want to spend their time mowing their lawn, weeding or washing their cars. Or they go on vacation, and they want these jobs done while they are away. These opportunities can carry over into the school year with leaf clearing and snow shoveling.
Summer camp. One step up from baby-sitting is setting up informal weeklong summer camps for groups of neighborhood children. Themes could be sports, arts and crafts, reading and writing -- wherever your skills may lie. One teen I know is taking groups of younger children to a different museum every day.
The advantages of starting your own business are numerous. You work for yourself, not a boss. You set your own hours. You don't have to put up with cranky co-workers. If you're not interacting with your clients, you can dress as you choose: No one cares if you build a website in your pajamas.
On the other hand, entrepreneurship is unpredictable and has its ups and downs. It could take several tries to get clients. Income fluctuates, and you have to pound the pavement to get work.
In America, anyone can grow up to be president. With your own firm, you can be president before you grow up.