11 Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students
Ah, summertime and the livin' is easy -- or it might be for the dozens of musicians who've glorified summer and all its sun, sand and surf. For the younger set, however, saving for college, a first car or video games, there's work to be done.
Unfortunately, it's going to be much more difficult for younger workers to find jobs as unemployed adults snap up lower-level positions.
But it's not quite time to give up and spend summer sneaking into apartment complex pools. The tricks is to start early. With pluck, tenacity and creativity, you might uncover a hidden love, whether it be the job or a cute co-worker. Summer is still one of the busiest seasons for part-time employment and businesses respect youthful exuberance.
Here are 11 of the best summer jobs for teens looking to earn a little easy livin' summertime cash or simply stay off the couch.
1. Farms and Farmers Markets
By June, most of the nearly 2-million farms in the U.S. have begun planting, but early summer is when things really kick into high gear. Increased production means an increased need for labor. Given an average growing season extending into October, there are months of work ahead. Even if you live outside America's Farm Belt, a local or family owned operation is probably within driving distance. Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, often have work-for-produce programs, where you receive a portion of food every month in exchange for your time.
If traipsing through a field pulling weeds and tilling soil isn't exactly your thing, farmers markets may be right up your alley. Like CSAs, farmers markets are a seasonal creature in need of employees for only a few summer to autumn months. Most operate on weekends, allowing you to either work a second job or have some downtime for travel and recreation.
With either of these options, satisfaction is a daily bonus. Many small farms are organic and sell directly to community members, giving a boost to the local economy and your peace of mind. Go to Local Harvest, to find a national directly of farms or markets near you. Rather than simply call, look up the farm's address and visit the owners. As with all employers, they value a personal chat. Just make sure you call first to make an appointment.
2. DIY and Entrepreneurial Start-Ups
Painting fences isn't just for Huck Finn. (Rule No.1: No literature references during summer vacation). Even if you've performed odd summer jobs since a young age, now is no time to stop. You'll need to spend some cash on equipment, but you can save a few bucks at places like Ace Hardware and Gardener's Supply Company. Otherwise, there's very little overhead. College towns offer a wealth of work in July and August, as landlords and homeowners prepare rental properties for new tenants. Talk with local realty companies to see if they need help with upkeep or maintenance.
You might also ask real-estate agents if they have any move-out cleaning jobs. Housecleaning companies and independent contractors often don't want to take on these one-time-only jobs, so there's more opportunity for youthful entrepreneurs. Some companies prefer cleaners use green products, so you might check out MyCleaningProducts or Home Depot for bulk purchases.
3. Go Techie
Summertime might seem to scream outdoor labor, but feel free to get creative. An article from Bankrate.com claims the time you spend uploading photos to Facebook and following friends on Twitter can be turned into cash. Many businesses are looking for young people who are computer and social-media savvy, especially small and locally owned companies.
Search the web for nearby businesses and check out their sites. When you find one in desperate need of a new image, website or social-media campaign, offer the owners your assistance as a contractor. Don't get greedy, though. Keep your rate appropriate to your skill level. Generally, you can charge $20 or $30 per hour for services. Don't overreach in terms of abilities, either. If you can't overhaul a whole website, don't pretend you can.
You really should have been looking for internships in January, but tests, housing issues and roommates tend to get in the way. Fortunately, companies look for new interns year-round, even if the positions don't start until August. The trick is to find a job that excites you, whether or not it fits into your career goal. Internships are about preparation. Take it seriously and create a professional resume, cover letter and set of goals. Check with your school counselor, career office or college department for internship and job listings.
Even unpaid positions offer benefits that can outweigh the lack of pay. Aside from experience, internships are a great way to network with professionals deep inside an industry, build relationships outside of school, and dip your toes in a "real" workplace environment.
When you do find an internship, the sweats and gym shorts you wear to class won't cut it with some employers. Although a nice pair of slacks or a smart blouse may seem expensive now, dress clothes are an investment in your future. Stores like Banana Republic and JCrew cater to the young and hip. Use coupons, free shipping offers and sales to keep expenses down.
"Paid vacation" doesn't always refer to a benefits package bonus, especially for young people. If you recently graduated or are looking to take a semester off, several resorts and hotel operations offer programs specifically for people in their late teens and early twenties. There are multiple websites to browse for resort and overseas jobs, such as ResortJobs and JobMonkey. When searching similar sites, beware of bad offers. Some require payment upfront before allowing you access.
The details of these positions vary widely, but most require a minimum six-month commitment. In addition, travel expenses to the destination are your responsibility and the pay isn't extraordinary. To make up for this, most companies cover room, board and food. Plus, during down time, you can enjoy all the perks of whatever destination you find yourself in. Sweet!
6. Babysitter and Nanny
When looking for a part-time position, it's easy to forget summer is exactly the same as winter for most parents, minus the fact their kids are out of school. Babysitting is one of the few jobs that usually require little to no previous experience and offer flexible hours, easy-going employers and screaming children...but hopefully not.
Finding a family can be a bit tricky, especially if you're new in town or don't have any previous contacts; but there are a number of ways to go about searching. A good place to start is placing your own ad or searching ads placed on Craigslist. You'll find these under the "Jobs" column for your particular city. Click on the ETC tab and browse for postings in your area. You'll also find possible positions under "Gigs," "Domestic."
7. College IT Support
College campuses are always in need of IT technicians. With a large pool of eager students studying for careers in computers, universities tend to hire in-house. Many departments lose people during the summer. If you're stuck with a lease and looking for a job that pays more than the local fast-food joint, most colleges are still hiring. As with an internship, check listings through your school to see who is hiring and when.
8. On-Campus Jobs
Instructors who work year-round might need assistants to grade papers, organize research or help with a number of other tasks that don't require specific or technical skills. Check with your favorite prof to see what you can do (and hopefully earn some cash). Again, it's all about putting yourself out there. Even if there are no specific openings, take the initiative and ask potential campus employers.
9. Theme Parks
Theme parks of all sizes expand staffs to manage the summer bustle. Jobs are available in a variety of areas, from entry-level maintenance and custodial positions to paid marketing and promotional internships. The largest parks, like Six Flags, Universal Orlando and Disney are incredibly popular, making the selection process competitive. (Disney also has strict regulations on employee appearance and deportment).
The range of jobs for these companies extends beyond the parks. For example, Disney hires drivers, airport representatives and vacation planners for all of its locations.
If you can't land your dream job with Mickey, don't turn your nose up at a local amusement park job. The hourly pay is similar and the atmosphere is comparable, just on a smaller scale. Hiring is ongoing and the staff is almost exclusively young adults.
10. ESL in Asia
Teaching English in a foreign country (also known as ESL for English as a Second Language) is a unique opportunity, especially if you're a recent college graduate who missed the chance to travel abroad while in school. Before it's time to settle down with a house, car payment and family, ESL jobs allow you to live on the other side of the world and become immersed in a new culture. ESLJobs.com has a searchable database of programs around the world for people as young as 20. The demand is highest in China and southeast Asia, where positions range from a classroom setting with elementary students to adults in major cities. Most employers provide a salary, orientation program and accommodations.
Before you get serious, research the commitment of teaching abroad. Many contracts last for a year or more and require a bachelors degree. You typically don't need to be fluent in the native language, but it's important to understand teaching ESL in Asia is the same as teaching at home. In-class experience is often preferred. If you have none, visit a website like TEFL for tips on lesson plans, classroom management and culture shock.
11. Summer Youth Employment Programs
Summer youth employment programs across the country have created thousands of jobs since 2009 for people ages 14 to 24. In 2009, New York City's jobs program alone placed over 52,000 youth at nearly 8,700 work sites -- impressive numbers to say the least. Most of the positions are entry level and part time, but employers include museums, law firms, summer camps and government offices. Be aware most programs are aimed at lower-income families and require proof of household earnings.
Most cities have already selected and placed applicants, but there may be positions available near you. Visit the website for the major city nearest you. If you can't find anything, give the appropriate office a call (usually the department of employment or economic development). They might know of openings that can't be found elsewhere.
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