Everything You Need to Know About the Best Summer Jobs for Students
Summer!!! Alice Cooper knew the score. As a student, there are few things better than that feeling of hearing that bell ring for the final time, or taking that final exam and knowing there is now nothing stopping you from warm, sunny days and fun filled summer nights.
But, inevitably with all of that fun, somebody needs to pay for it. Enter the summer job.
Summer jobs can be an amazing way to make some good cash or painfully awful. But, the nice thing is that you can get your toe wet in the working world without diving in headfirst.
We’re going to walk through a list of what we feel are the best summer jobs for high school students, but before we simply rattle off some ideas for work, there are some other elements to consider.
HAVE A PURPOSE – KNOW YOUR WHY
First and foremost, we feel you should consider the “why” behind your work. In fact, this is good to do in all areas of life, but being that you will probably be working for the rest of your life, it’s good to get in the habit now of looking at the big picture.
So, why are you working? To make as much money as possible? To gain experience for the future? To get outdoors and enjoy the summer? Your parents told you that you have to? To hone your skills in a particular area? It’s important that you have a solid “why” figured out before anything else. With no end vision in sight, it’s easy for your summer work to quickly turn into summer toil. With a vision, a goal and a “why”, the summer work gives purpose and keeps you going strong all summer long.
JOB CRITERIA FACTORS
Next, we want to look at some decision criteria to help you select your job. All 3 of the factors below are important. You’ll need to weigh each job after against the three criteria to decide which job is best for you.
Pay – The amount cheddar you’re going to bring in for many is the #1 deciding factor. Ideally, you’re going to find a job that pays well for as little as time as possible. But often, a higher paying job may be inflexible and not enjoyable. Many jobs pay well because nobody wants to do them. We’re simply saying you should consider the fact that the highest paying job might not be the best job for you.
Flexibility – Flexibility cannot be underestimated when selecting a summer job. If your job pays great, but you can never get off for family vacation, go to that concert you want to go to, or just hang out with your friends at night, then what’s the point? Take your time to consider the end goal of your work. Is it to get money to do stuff you want to do? If so, then a job that is rigid in its schedule might defeat the purpose.
Enjoyment – Finally, you’ve got to ask yourself how much you will enjoy the job you take. If you love it, than the work won’t seem like work, and the time will fly by. However, typically a job many people really enjoy, ie. lifeguarding, might not pay the best. But a job that is physically draining and you don’t really enjoy, ie. landscaping, may pay great!
Ok, now that we have some decision criteria, let’s take a look at what we deem to be 10 of the best summer jobs available. We’ll rate each job according to our 3 criteria on a High, Medium and Low grading scale.
TOP 11 SUMMER JOBS
1. Life Guard
Working at the neighborhood pool as a life guard could be a great job for your summer. If you are in good shape, a solid swimmer and can pass a test, than you may be the perfect candidate. In order to handle this job, there is a level of responsibility required. After all, you are responsible for people’s lives! That said, the typical life guard position sees very little emergency situations. You just need to be ready for them when you come.
The perks? Duh, you’re at a pool all summer. You get to build a killer tan, and as long as you don’t mind tan lines, this is a big plus. The down side? The pay is mediocre to low. It can become a bit monotonous doing the same thing all day long and yelling at the same brat kids all summer to stop their horseplay.
Pay: Low Flexibility: Medium Enjoyment: High
2. Camp Counselor
Can’t get enough of camp? Then, becoming a camp counselor may be a perfect fit for you. Maybe tone it down a few notches from the Perkis Power (perhaps the greatest camp counselor of all time), and you should be set. There are all kinds of different summer camps for children. So, a benefit here is that you can find a camp that interests you. If you love being outdoors and have patience for children, then this could be perfect.
Again, pay is not stellar here, but there are multiple other pros. You get to develop leadership and training skills that can serve you well later in life. You also may get to move away from home for a time and enjoy the freedom and independence.
Pay: Low Flexibility: Low Enjoyment: High
3. Golf Course / Caddy / Cart Girl
I’ll be honest. The best summer job I ever had was working at a golf course country club. For me, this goes back to my why. I love golf! So, the ability to make good money, have flexible hours AND play for free on a state ranked course was the perfect scenario of awesomeness.
Now, let me point out one of the most important aspects here. If you are working at a golf course, you want to put yourself in a situation where you can earn tips. Simply doing grounds crew maintenance is not going to cut it. My official role was “cart boy”. Flattering right? Well, for the pride I had to swallow, it made up for it in tips. My job was to clean the carts, keep the driving range going, and when members came back in from their round, I took a wet towel, cleaned their clubs and placed them in their cars. It was easy for me to make $70 in tips a day on top of my hourly wage. Pro tip: be sure to work at a private country club and not a public course! You’ll get much more money from rich members than your everday Joe.
Caddying can be great too. It sets you up to make a good tip. But, it is physically exhausting, especially in the dog days of summer. Another HIGH paying gig is the cart girl. This is the job that drives around the course and sells snacks and drinks. Basically, if you are a female and have gone through puberty, you can make a TON of money with this job. And the golf outings and leagues are the best because you get drunk golfers and lots of them who will tip great.
Pay: High Flexibility: High Enjoyment: High
Got a strong back and don’t mind hard work in the heat? If so, landscaping might be right up your alley. It’s simple work. You get to work outside, and there can be pretty good money as well. Go to work for an existing company or if you have access to a lawn mower, start your own business. With so many people traveling and being busy during summer, it’s not difficult to create a book of business while earning some cold hard cash. Bonus – stick in your earplugs and enjoy your iPod while you work.
The cons? Well, it’s summer. It’s hot. It’s hard work, and you’ll sweat a lot. But if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and doing some good old fashioned manual labor, this could be a great job to bring in that summer cash you are looking for.
Pay: High Flexibility: Medium Enjoyment: Low
This is another job that benefits from high summer demand. Kids are out of school and parents, especially if both are working, need help with their kids. You need to be a good people person, trustworthy, responsible and patient. But if you have those qualities, than you rack in the cash with this job.
A quality nanny is always in demand. Prove out your skills in the summer, and this job can keep paying for itself all year long!
Pay: High Flexibility: Medium Enjoyment: Medium
Internships are usually more about the future and less about the now. Again, this job is tied deeply to your “why”. If your goal is cash now, an internship is probably not for you. But, if you are investing in yourself for the future, there might not be a smarter option for you.
Seek out the industry you see yourself heading in the future, and offer your services at a discount or even free. Not getting paid now could be well worth it for the skills learned, resume building experience and networking accomplished for future employment.
Pay: Low Flexibility: Low Enjoyment: High
Don’t mind scrubbing a toilet, dusting or changing linens? You may be the perfect housekeeper. The other job that could come with this in the summer is housesitting. Usually that includes pet sitting. So cuddle up with Fido, and make a few extra bones.
You might not make great money with housekeeping, but the flexibility of the job may be enough to reward you for it.
Pay: Medium Flexibility: High Enjoyment: Low
I’ve added retail jobs because a lot of high school students end up taking them for summer jobs, but I think you can do better. Sure, there are any number of big box stores where you could go work for the summer stocking shelves or bagging groceries. This may be fine for you, but you could get this job basically any time of the year, especially around Christmas.
So, our recommendation on retails jobs is try not to settle. There are more fun, higher paying, and rewarding jobs out there if you hustle.
Pay: Medium Flexibility: Low Enjoyment: Low
9. Food Service
Kind of the same thing applies with food service jobs as retail. You can pretty much get these any time of the year. On the plus side, you can often get free meals if you work at a restaurant. So, while the pay may be less, you can save a bit on your food expenses.
Our advice? If you get into food service, try to work your way into a job where tips can be earned. That could be serving at a restaurant or even pizza delivery driving. Try not to get stuck behind a fryer or washing dishes. Put yourself in a place where there are incentives to make more money if you do a good job.
Pay: Medium Flexibility: Medium Enjoyment: Medium
Got a big brain? Put it to work! When the kiddos go home for the summer, their report cards go with them. Many are struggling with grades. There are plenty of parents willing to pay a pretty penny for someone a bit older and wiser to help them in their studies.
Also, if you sees yourself getting into the education industry, tutoring can be an excellent way to practice your skills at an early age. Plus, this job can pay really well if you know what you are talking about. The down side? You have to continue with your nose in the books even through the summer.
Pay: High Flexibility: Medium Enjoyment: Medium
11. Work for the Family Business
This isn’t an offer you can’t refuse, but if your family owns a business, we would strongly consider working in it for the summer (if you aren’t already). Learning to work with your family can be difficult with a few bumps in the road, but the payoff is well worth it. For one, it can strengthen your family. You know the boss, so flexibility and pay is all negotiable. And maybe most importantly, the keys to the family biz may be yours today. Now is your chance to show mom and pops that you have what it takes to work hard, learn, and be dedicated to keeping this awesome asset inside the family.
In today’s day and age, we typically look to go to college and then become independent of mom and dad. We work to go out into the world and make something of ourselves. But building a strong family and business could easily be one of the best career decisions you ever make. You’ll be able to get a jumpstart on all of your peers in terms of skills and work experience. Not to mention, you could leave college with an asset to your name vs. endless piles of student debt. The truth is that a college degree is worth less and less in today’s business world. So, to have a business you can plug into immediately that could eventually be yours is …. well … an offer you can’t refuse.
Pay: Medium Flexibility: High Enjoyment: Medium (up to you)
So there you have it – 11 of the best summer jobs you can choose from.
ASSESS YOUR SKILLS
One final piece of advice. Take an inventory of your unique skills and assets. Be honest with yourself. Are you better than average looking? (Maybe get someone else’s opinion). If so, put yourself in a service job where you can earn tips. Sorry, fact of life. People will usually give higher tips to attractive people.
Are you stronger academically? Then maybe you should give strong consideration to jobs that lean that way – tutoring or an internship.
Maybe you are just the muscle. Then get out there and mow those lawns, counsel the crap out of those kids and save some lives at the local pool.
We’re just saying, put your strengths to use, and you’ll enjoy your summer job more.
MAKE MONEY WHEN YOU GO BACK TO SCHOOL
Before we go, just wanted to be sure you knew that earning money is not only for the summer. If you want to learn an excellent way to earn some money, WearMyStory offers a unique way to make $100s in gift cards and even a free class ring. We wrote all about how to make money in high school in a previous post. Want to make some easy cash? Become a Ring Rep today!
What’s the best or worst summer job you’ve ever had? Comment below!