Summer is the perfect time for students to save up for the next school year and get some practical experience to complement their studies. Some of the best summer jobs for students help to pad a resume while providing valuable work experience.
My daughter worked every summer during college, and it not only helped her out financially but it gave her experience and established connections she used to line up a job after graduation.
Opportunities for summer jobs abound if you know where and how to look.
What to Consider
When looking for a summer job, there are a few things to consider. Approaching the job hunt with a goal in mind will help your student focus their search:
Location: Will your student live at home this summer or stay at school? Do they want to work remotely or in person?
Area of interest: Is it important to work in an area related to a future career, or is the main goal simply to make money?
Hours: Will the job be full-time or part-time, day or evening hours?
Where to Look
Many businesses are short-staffed or need extra help during the busy summer months. They turn to college students to fill those positions. When your student is looking, they can tap into these resources:
Friends and Family
Ask around and see if anyone knows or works at a company that's hiring. Typical jobs for college students include office assistant, mail clerk, filing, and data entry. Factories may employ students to help with simple maintenance, delivery, or basic clean-up.
Local businesses typically hire during the summer, especially if their summer traffic increases. If your student likes working in retail, department stores, bookstores, and malls, hire students. Restaurants are always looking for waitstaff, kitchen help, and hosts/hostesses. Other local businesses may include city parks and recreation departments, plant nurseries, painting companies, warehouses, and factories.
Online Job Listings
Your student should utilize online job listings when searching for a summer job. Here are a few:
The following jobs are traditional go-tos for college students looking for summer work:
Waitstaff: Servers can earn significant tips if working for the right restaurant.
Busser: This might not be as appealing as waitstaff, but bussers share in the tips, too, and it's an entry-level position for someone without prior experience.
Host/Hostess: This job is less taxing than waiting tables or bussing but requires good personal presentation skills along with an ability to stay organized and on task.
Barista: These jobs are often filled by college students who enjoy coffee and customer service.
Food Delivery Driver: With so many people eating from home, restaurants are always looking for delivery drivers.
Bookstore Sales Associate: If your student loves reading or is studying literature or even library science, this could be the perfect summer job.
Receptionist: As a receptionist, your student might work at a hotel, spa, salon, gym, or another local business.
Product Merchandiser: Another name for someone who stocks shelves. Grocery stores, department stores, and big-box stores employ stockers to restock inventory at night.
Cashier: These jobs are plentiful and offer different shifts during the day or night. Any number of retail businesses hire cashiers, such as movie theaters, grocery stores, and department stores.
Retail Sales Associate: Clothing and beauty supply stores, bike shops and outdoor retailers, the local pet supply store...they all hire sales associates.
Housekeeper: Cleaning houses requires little more than the supplies and the ability to clean.
Nanny/Childcare: If your student loves children, they could spend the summer as a full-time nanny or an occasional babysitter.
Housesitter: During the summer, people travel and are often in need of someone to housesit while they are away.
Pet Sitter: Working people often need someone to walk their dog or care for pets during the day, overnight, or on weekends while they are traveling. You can sign up on an app called Rover to find clients.
Non-Medical Caregiver: Provide companionship and help with tasks for an elderly or disabled person.
For creative students, summer offers a chance to work on their craft while earning some cash. These creative jobs might interest your college student:
Photographer: Family photos, engagements, weddings and graduation events need photographers. If your student has equipment and expertise, they can earn money by providing this service.
Online Selling: Your student can sell art, clothing, craft projects, jewelry, and anything they make or purchase online using these selling platforms.
Teaching Music or Performing: If your student has musical talent, they can teach music lessons or get paid to perform at weddings, restaurants, or public venues.
Marketing/Communications: These online jobs might involve virtual meetings, email and newsletter distribution, content creation, and writing news releases — all of which can be done from the comfort of home.
Graphic Designer: If your student is artistically inclined, they could design logos and all types of print material.
Students with tech skills can find jobs on freelance job sites that cater to short-term or non-employee workers. UniversityHQ outlines these jobs in “The Gig Economy” and provides links and information for each job site.
Here’s a short list of jobs you might find in the IT realm:
Coding: Gamers, websites, small businesses, and bloggers all need coders and are willing to pay.
Tech Assistant: Be your own Geek Squad and provide assistance to technologically challenged grown-ups!
Web Designer: Small businesses on a budget are always looking for web designers who know how to set up a website, provide maintenance, and do coding.
Social Media: Students can work for companies who need someone to maintain their social media accounts and/or use their own accounts to make money as influencers.
The Great Outdoors
Summer weather means you can work outside, and there are plenty of jobs that pay:
Lawn/Garden/Nursery: Lawn mowing or working at a nursery or for a landscaper can provide a good summer income.
Lifeguard: Earn money while working on your tan if you know how to swim and are certified in CPR (additional training may be required).
Day Camp/Summer Camp Counselor: These are great jobs for those who love working with kids and being outdoors.
Golf Caddy: Caddies not only get good exercise, but it’s a great way to network and make connections, and tips are often generous.
Parking Valet: A little driving, a bit of exercise, and tips.
Unskilled Work on Construction: Assist builders with construction work and any other physical labor required.
Sports Referee: If you know a sport well, you can earn money refereeing summer league games and tournaments.
Your student doesn’t have to work for someone else over the summer! They can take the initiative and start their own business. Here are just a few suggestions to get them started:
App Driver: Companies like Uber, Door Dash, Postmates, and others allow students to provide transportation and deliver food and goods. Your student can set their own schedule and earning goals.
Odd Jobs: Students can offer help moving, cleaning a garage, doing small home repairs, washing cars, and other odd jobs. They can use apps to register for the services they want to provide, and then homeowners hire them on the app.
Cooking/Baking: If your student loves baking, they can sell their cookies, cakes, muffins, and even home-cooked meals either by word of mouth or by posting on social media.
Tutoring: College students can tutor younger students over the summer in person or online. Try the local high school or post an ad on social media.
When looking for a job this summer, your student might want to consider an internship. An internship requires some preparation and often is not paid, but it’s not uncommon to find one that pays. If your student does choose an internship, it’s important they pick one related to their future career goals.
When my daughter was in college, she majored in marketing and was able to find paid summer internships in marketing and advertising. She began searching in the spring of each year and was able to find the position before leaving school in May. If your student wants to find a paid internship for the summer, they should begin at the college career center and continue the search online at the job sites listed above under "Where to Look." Stringing together a series of micro-internships could also be a fun and profitable way to spend summer break.
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Suzanne Shaffer counsels students and families through her blog, Parenting for College. Her advice has been featured in print and online on Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, U.S. News College, TeenLife, Smart College Visit, Road2College and more.