May, June, July and August. These words are some of the most beautiful sounds to students of all ages. In the carefree days of adolescence, summer meant long bike rides, swimming and treks through the woods. Once college hit, thoughts of summer, while still attractive, no longer solely indicate a time of glorious nothingness.
These four months now mean summer school and summer jobs. It is all too easy to settle for mediocre employment or end up with a summer job nightmare. Interesting, even lucrative, summer stints are available but often require some effort and bravery.
The key to finding a summer job is starting early and going in with an open mind. Some organizations begin the hiring process as early as October, which means the sooner the search begins, the better. For the college student, returning home during this break from school may seem logical, but venturing out into the world, or at least to another city, can increase opportunities. Summer is the perfect time to try something new or do something absurd because it involves a low level of commitment and helps add diversity to a resume.
Make sure to start the search with key priorities in mind. These necessary components may be financial, location-specific or field-related. Knowing what is most important from the onset helps make the time spent looking more effective. Financially, everyone has different needs, and every summer opportunity offers something different. Summer tourism creates numerous well-paying jobs in vacation hot spots, though the work may not be glamorous. If money is not the main concern, there are many great unpaid internships or volunteer programs that provide invaluable experience. Limiting the search to specific locations can help narrow the options but, at the same time, clearly restricts possibilities. The cost of housing can often consume wages, so consider the various accommodations available such as renting an apartment, finding roommates, using a university’s housing or finding a family to stay with. Finding summer employment in a field related to a potential career not only provides contacts but practical on-the-job training.
Luckily, the Internet is full of websites hoping to connect prospective employees and employers. While more serious career-related sites might require membership and posting a resume, others act as a database of contacts. Be careful to fully research any job before taking it. Look for someone with experience with the company or organization and visit the jobsite if at all possible. If you have trouble finding what you want, try typing in your ideal job into a search engine and see what comes up.
Consider these summer alternatives:
Work in a state or national park. These jobs vary from maintenance to housekeeping to waiting tables to groundskeeping. Often the resorts located in these parks also offer jobs. The perk here is the location and recreational activities. Picture a summer in Yellowstone or at Glacier Bay in Alaska. Parks often help secure reasonable accommodations onsite.
Go to summer camp. Maybe you went when you were in elementary school or maybe not. Either way, spending a summer as a camp counselor is a great way to get paid for playing with kids or refining a hobby like woodworking or music. Look for camps you are familiar with or ones that cater to special interests, such as horseback riding or leadership. Pay can be low for camp jobs, but there are a few well-paid ones out there, and usually room and board are taken care of. Also, do not be fooled by stock images of camp flooded with cabins, mosquitoes and campfires. These certainly exist, but so do camps with posh facilities or locations on college campuses. And, of course, there is always day camp if you don’t want to leave your own comfy bed.
Intern. Interning is not only trendy; it is becoming necessary. Sometimes paid and sometimes not, interning allows you to not only get your foot in a company’s door but also fortifies your resume. Look for an internship that allows you to do more than make coffee—many will give you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience. Think big. Decide on your dream job and find out if they have internships. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to ask: they may be open to the idea.
Save the world, or at least help. If finances don’t obligate you to earn a lot of money, consider spending a few months doing volunteer work. Many organizations and ministries depend on an influx of summer workers. Possibilities are vast, so consider what causes or people you are interested in and find out how you can help.
Leave the States. Kids in Europe go to camp, too. If you look hard enough and get a passport, many of these ideas for summer stints can be found abroad. Look for internships, short-term work visas or volunteer programs. This is a great opportunity to learn a foreign language, practice one you already know or just explore the world. Many ministries provide ways to serve in other countries and work the details out for you. If you are in college, check with the International/Study Abroad office or campus ministries for ideas.
Websites to Start With: