Ah summer! A time to relax, see the world, hang out with your friends… Preferably while making a little money to help pay your tuition and beer tabs for the rest of the year. The summer job search during your college years can be time consuming and stressful. It is an in-between stage of life: you do not want to continue waiting tables as you did in high school, but you’re not quite ready for the responsibilities of a professional position. The best jobs for students balance these needs: giving you valuable work experience to show future employers while properly rewarding you for your contributions. Luckily, there are many full time and part time jobs college students can pursue that not only pay well, but offer amazing learning experiences!
Door-to-Door Sales / Telemarketing
While many people shudder at the idea of working in sales, a summer job in sales or telemarketing can be a huge growing experience. Especially if you have no intention of pursuing a career in sales. I’m a software developer and worked in sales the summer after my freshman year. The skills I learned have made a huge difference over the course of my career (NOT in sales). A good sales job will help you learn how to:
- How to communicate an idea clearly
- Carefully listen to your customers
- Answer their questions and objections
- Confidently ask for what you want
I also got much better at making small talk with people, a direct result of meeting a wide variety of people who weren’t also studying engineering. These aren’t just work skills – they’re life skills. The pay was excellent: most of these jobs will pay you a percentage of the sales, which worked out to about three times what I was offered to work as a bank teller. If you are good with people, sales can be one of the best paying summer jobs for college students. As for the rest of us, at the end of the summer, I went back to being a software developer… with a lot more confidence and some good stories to tell. Check out our article on getting a sales job.
College Admissions Office
There’s a lot more to college than holding classes – and as a student, you’ve got the inside track on getting hired. These can be some of the best college student jobs, especially if you’re interested in administration or business. Behind the scenes, your college is a small city that needs to be fed, maintained, and represented during the summer months. One common option is working for the admissions office: they often need help handling prospective students and planning marketing campaigns to promote your school. The student affairs and dining services groups often need help as well – planning out programs for the school year. One of my fraternity brothers got a great job in Facilities and Dining, working on projects to set up a network of vending machines and open up a new late night cafe area for students. Imagine how that looks on a resume. Marketing, customer service, and project management are skills that can be used in many different careers.
College IT Department Worker
If you’re technologically savvy, this is another great on-campus or online job that will keep you at your University over the Summer. As tech-friendly as our generation is, there is still a large percentage of college students that don’t know how to fix basic computer problems. Technology is a high-demand job market, so having past experience in this category can help you greatly. Don’t want to work on campus? Try offering your services to small companies in your home town or startups.
Want to work on a really interesting technology job this summer? Try going to a couple of technology meetup groups at your town or school – or even a hack-a-thon or startup weekend. These can be a great way to meet people in your field looking for folks with your skills to work on apps and software projects. It helps to go early (to chat with people) and tag along when the crowd heads out for burgers and beers afterwards. I’ve seen a lot of good relationships get struck up around the dinner table after a meetup or hack-a-thon. These can turn into some of the best paying summer jobs for college students interested in software development.
Always a popular choice with science majors, why not spend the summer in the lab? Most large schools are research centers. After they’re done teaching Biology 101, many of your professors also need to churn out research papers and studies as part of their job. Many research projects get done during the summer – and your professors are often looking for help. They may need help with regular lab science experiments, field research and data collection, and technical tasks such as programming and data entry. In many cases, these projects have government or business sponsorship, giving you additional exposure that can help you get a job later. Even better, many of these projects involve cutting edge research, making them some of the best summer jobs for college students who want to work in science or technology.
Social Media Intern
Let’s face it – social media has played a larger role in the life for current college students than prior generations. And when it comes to figuring out how to their message out, large companies need our expertise. Social media and writing internships can be a great way to get into the marketing, journalism, and public relations fields. Use skills you already have to get business experience and build relationships to help you find work when you graduate.
If you are at least a Sophomore in college and you have a love for teaching others or even simply helping those around you, consider being a Summer School substitute. Not only does this particular job pay far more than your run-of-the-mill retail experience, but you will have a chance to demonstrate your ability to lead and instruct as a teacher. As a teacher, you need to be flexible enough to adapt to a variety of situations. Carrying this into future work will aid you greatly.
Political Ghost Writer
This is a great option for those interested in writing or politics. Every Summer, local Governors and even Senate members are on the look-out for college students to write letters and short announcements for them. It goes without saying that working for someone in such a position comes with bountiful learning experiences. Check out our article on getting a political job.
Summer is wedding season, and any location that hosts weddings will absolutely be on the look out for hard workers to join for the season. Whether the company needs help with set up, serving, or planning, there are many skills to acquire. After a single Summer working in the wedding industry, you will have extensive experience in keeping your cool in heated situations. Crazy mothers, sobbing brides, late husbands – the list goes on and on. Following this job, you’ll never have a hard time thinking on your feet.
Summer Camp Counselor
Some people still feel like a kid and love adventure! If that sounds like you, joining a Summer Camp will be both fun and rewarding. Being a counselor means that a lot of responsibility in in your hands. Dealing with the weight of this can be quite a lot to handle, and learning to cope with it before entering the workforce officially will put you a step ahead of the competition.
This particular job will likely not pay nearly as much as the rest of the jobs on this list, but it will give you great leadership skills. Since nonprofits can not pay their employees high amounts, they don’t usually have a team of highly-trained professionals. Because of this, you will be given a variety of responsibilities and expected to take leadership in many roles even though you’ve yet to graduate.
Start Something – Create Your Own Job!
Sometimes, the best summer jobs for college students are the ones you create for yourself. In some cases, this can be an app or an idea for a small business. Imagine how much you can learn by spending a summer working on a coding project or knocking on customer doors to try to sell a service or product. In other cases, you may see a project that needs to be done. I spent a summer working on cleaning up the accounting system for the student-run organizations; I applied for a grant that gave me free room and board plus an allowance for meals. The experience I gained in this job helped me get an internship the following summer and a permanent job when I graduated. If you can find a way to cover your expenses for the summer, this is a great time in your life to take a risk.
Finding a Summer job right for you can be intimidating. Thankfully, knowing options such as these exist will help you to find opportunities that will guarantee your success in the long run.