Best Part Time Summer Jobs for College Students

In between my years at college, I worked a wide variety of summer jobs. I worked as a car detailer for an auto auction house, I swept floors in a hair salon, I worked security for an aerospace company, and I manned a cart in the middle of a popular mall. None of these jobs were especially glamourous or a good indicator of what I would do later in life as an adult (I worked in the film & TV world until I “retired” for self-employment four years ago), but they were decent jobs to have during the summer. Because I was doing some thinking about one of these jobs the other day, I decided to write up a post of some summer jobs I think would be pretty cool gigs for college students, whether for their fun aspect, money, or future employment opportunities. Here is what I came up with…

  • Become a summer camp counselor. I always wanted to do this.
  • Sign up to be an attendant at a vacation or beach club resort. Could be lucrative if it’s a high-end place.
  • Join a landscaping crew. It’s hard work, but you get to spend the summer outdoors while working out and getting paid.
  • Get a retail job at a store you like. The pay may not be great, but the discount for employees could be worth it.
  • Become a lifeguard. Sun, water, pretty girls and handsome boys. It’s a good way to spend your 3 months off.

  • Work overseas to help those less fortunate. You can join an organization like the Peace Corps just for the summer.
  • Like amusement park rides? Why not work at one? Free admission would be pretty cool, especially if you didn’t have to wait in line for hours like everyone else.
  • Find a Dude Ranch and become a ranch hand.
  • Enjoy playing golf? Become a caddy for the summer. While getting tips and pay, you can spend the day outside. You also will get free and/or reduced green fees.
  • Babysit. You can say yes or no to every gig, make your own schedule, and make decent money.
  • Nanny full-time. If the family travels, you will probably go with them. My girlfriend in high school did this and spent weeks at the beach every summer.
  • Start a pet-sitting service. What better way to spend a few months than taking care of cats, dogs, or even turtles?
  • Go on a cruise! OK, don’t go on one but rather get a job on one! If you can sing or dance, you may be able to get a job as an on-board performer. If not, you may be able to work at one of the other hundreds of jobs that cruise ships have.
  • Paint houses in your hometown. There was always a crew of guys in my town who painted houses every summer, and they made quite a nice chunk of change from doing so.
  • Try to get an internship in a field you are interested in pursuing after college. Whether paid or unpaid, the experience could be great — or a real eye-opener!
  • Fitness fanatic? Why not become a fitness trainer?

What else could you add to the list? What did YOU do as a summer job?

The thing to remember about summer jobs is that while the money is important (especially if you are paying for college!), the experience is just as important. In no time flat, you will be 22 (or older) and done with college — and then for most people comes 40+ years of working. These small batches of time in the summer between college are valuable, so remember to keep that in mind.

(photo credit: a loves dc)

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Comments (9)

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  1. Briana @ GBR says:

    I interned, interned, interned my butt off during the summer. It made my resume quite impressive, kept me busy, and built up my skill set. If you can intern and work part time, that’s even better.

  2. fairy dust says:

    Summer camp counselor was da bomb job – I was a camper there then worked as a counselor, and I was a lifeguard and waterfront instructor, so it really combined a couple of the jobs on your list. Lots of fun!

  3. While I was studying jazz, I made my money during the summer and otherwise as a lumber yard grunt, throwing around heavy building materials and driving a forklift. It wasn’t the most professionally satisfying work that I’ve ever done but I met some good people and created a knowledge base for myself that means that I won’t be flying blind if I ever need to do my own home repairs.

  4. Jnifer says:

    I was the camper presently there then proved helpful as a therapist, and I would be a lifeguard and waterside instructor, therefore it really mixed a couple of the actual jobs in your list. Plenty of fun!

  5. Hank says:

    The best summer jobs are the ones that either prepare you for the future job that you want after you graduate or a job in an industry you are considering to enter after college. I took a summer internship one year at my city’s weekly newspaper, and it helped me figure out that I wanted to be a professional writer when I grew up. It helped direct my energy in college for the day I graduated.

  6. WendyD says:

    My college has a co-op program where we get credits for our “work terms”, so technically, I had my last summer off in first year. It’s essentially a more advanced internship where you get money, working experience, and school credit.

    I found that my past office experience really helped to land me a co-op job. If you can, find work as an administrative assistant, IT tech, or similar is some sort of office. It’s not the funnest job in the world, but the pay is nice, and it gives you some much-needed experience in an office setting.

    The experience will help to land internships or other similar jobs down the road.

  7. Pete @ PDL says:

    What Hank said. If you can get a summer job for a company that you might actually want to work for at a higher level one day, you can already start networking. I’ve known a lot of people who wound up in a career job with the companies they worked for as summer interns, or they met people there who helped them find a career job through a friend of a friend.

  8. I only had a couple summer jobs… one was to help set up a giant retail store, of about 1,000,000 items… tedious? yes. low paying? yes. air conditioned? no.

    It was an experience, i’ll say that!

  9. I have done more internships than jobs, thats my short coming!!