Summer is when a magical eraser is taken to our usually full to-do list, and we find ourselves with the rare pleasure of having time to kill.

Summer Jobs

When the school year is finally over and the onslaught of homework, essays, exams, and undying stress is finally done, the last thing we want to think about is more work. The temptation to simply slip into a peaceful, relaxing, work-free world is alive and well in all of us when summer rolls around. Believe me, I understand. But summer is also a great time for students to make money through summer jobs.

Summer jobs are a great way to prepare us financially for the next year and use our increased free time to our benefit, either for the future or the present. It may not be the most exciting way to spend summer, and it certainly isn’t the ideal summer plan, but it can arguably be the most practical way to use our free time.

During the school year, our schedules are inconsistent, busy, crammed with homework and studying, and we are constantly teetering on the edge of sanity trying to balance it all. Summer is when a magical eraser is taken to our usually full to-do list, and we find ourselves with the rare pleasure of having time to kill. Filling at least some of that time with a summer job, though it may not be the most fun, can have such incredible benefits.

Working Summer Jobs

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Now, this may not be “the move” for everyone. There are some obvious downsides to working summer jobs. First of all, it’s a job: committing to manual labor, office work, food service, or anything like that for several hours a day is not anyone’s idea of a party. Ideally, any job you get won’t involve soul-sucking boredom or cause you intense amounts of mental/emotional distress, but it probably won’t be a ton of fun either. The goal (eventually) is to get a job you love, but that’s not always the case with summer jobs. Sometimes, it’s really just about making a little money for the school year, and that’s okay.

               Going hand-in-hand with that is the understanding that you will limit what you can do throughout summer with the commitment to work. Having a job, especially one that requires you to be in-person, means that you may not be able to travel on a whim or go very far for very long. Because summer jobs are usually seasonal, and therefore short-term, there is not a lot of opportunity for time off. So, you’ll be expected to work through the summer, which will limit some activities, like travelling and visiting family/friends.

               When you commit to a summer job, it can feel like you aren’t getting a break, just going from one stressful and demanding environment to another. It can be emotionally and mentally exhausting to go straight from school to work. My advice: if you do decide to get a summer job, is to make sure you give yourself at least a week between the end of classes and the start of work. Allow yourself some time to breathe and recover mentally and physically from the tense end-of-semester chaos.

The nice thing about most summer jobs is that you probably won’t take any work home with you—not like you do with classes anyway. You go to work, you do the work, and then you leave and don’t have to think about it until the next day. So, in that regard you are doing less than you would be with classes (and you’re getting paid for it, for a change).

There are obviously cons to working summer jobs. However, they don’t cancel out the pros: you get paid, and you get a taste of what it means to build a work/life balance. Having money during the school year can be a huge plus. You won’t have as much free time or mental space to work during school. You may be able to do it, but it will mean less time for homework and studying and can lead to a serious increase in stress. If you have money saved up from summer to keep you afloat, it can be a huge weight off your shoulders.

               There is an additional benefit of gained experience, especially if you are able to get an internship in the field you are hoping to go into after college. Getting experience in the workforce at all is beneficial for when you want to begin your career because it shows that you learned at least some necessary skills that come with being employed—punctuality, communication, reliability, etc. However, if you can get an internship in your desired field, it makes you much more hire-able in that field following your graduation. An experienced candidate is much more valuable than one that needs to be taught everything.

[Internships] will put you in a competitive position for entry-level positions in your desired career field.

Best Summer Jobs for College Students

               That brings us to our next point: what are the best summer jobs for college students? The first one we already know.

            Internships

               Ideally, if you’re going to work summer jobs, you’ll find internships that are relevant to the major you’re pursuing. This will put you in a competitive position for entry-level positions in your desired career field. Many internships do pay, so if you can find an internship in your desired field that also pays, you’re in great shape. If you get accepted to one that doesn’t pay, but it’s the only one offered to you, it’s still a great experience that will ultimately do more for your future than a part-time job that does pay but won’t give you relevant experience in your field.

            Service Jobs

               Service jobs, specifically ones that offer the opportunity for tips, are also great options for students. This work involves working with customers, which can be fun if you’re a people-person. Typically, these offer minimum wage or less, with the opportunity to make much more because of tips. Depending on the area, the kind of service, and the guests, tips can seriously increase your earnings, which is great if you need to save money for the school year.

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            Lifeguarding

               If you are trained or are willing to become trained in CPR and are a good swimmer, you could be a lifeguard for the summer months. Lifeguarding positions are often seasonal, as more help is needed for the summer months with increased crowds, hotter temperatures, and kids not being in school. The average pay for lifeguards is a little over $12/hr, but will be higher in states with a higher minimum wage. Lifeguarding is a very rewarding summer job, it teaches vital survival skills that are beneficial to know in all walks of life, and it allows you to hang out at the pool or beach all day.

            Delivery and Shopping

               There are so many apps now for ordering food and groceries to make getting the things you want/need possible without leaving your house. And for every person who uses those apps, a delivery and/or shopper is needed. If you have access to a car and meet the requirements set by the service, you could potentially make up to $22/hour delivering food or groceries to people. Now, typically you don’t make that much, but it really depends how much you are willing to put into it.

The other great thing about this is that it’s up to you how much you work and when. The schedule is entirely up to you—which gets rid of some of the limitations that other summer jobs have. It does mean that you have to be pretty disciplined with yourself in order to actually make money. But it’s still a great option if you want a little more freedom with your summer job.

There are a lot of other great options for summer jobs, but these are perhaps some of the most beneficial. However, you may want to prioritize jobs that are part-time, so that you’ll still get some time for rest and relaxation during your summer. Even if you’re going to work a summer job, you do still want to make sure that you are well rested and mentally prepared for the next semester—that’s hard to do if you’ve worked yourself to the bone all summer.

Where to Find Summer Jobs

               How do we find these internships and summer jobs? The answer depends a little bit on what you’re looking for. For internships, I would start by checking with career services at your college. They typically are able to find some good options and help you build your resume and prepare for the interview to give you the best chance of getting selected.

               You can also find some good options on Indeed and LinkedIn. Both are great sources to find summer jobs and internships. Indeed.com may be easier to use, as it requires less networking, but LinkedIn is a great profile to build up even if you don’t find the job you want on there.

Summer jobs, summer jobs for college students, summer before college,

               Going onto the websites of the companies that you’re interested in is also a great way to get noticed and start conversations with hiring managers. Often, if a company is offering a seasonal or summer position, they will post it on their website with instructions and requirements for interested applicants. For delivery and shopping jobs through apps, you’ll just download the app and application instructions will be on there.

               For some industries, showing up in person and asking if there are any open positions is also a great way to put yourself out there and indicate interest. This can work specifically for the service industry or retail jobs, but for more business-like settings, you’re better off emailing or connecting through their website or an online job posting.

               Otherwise, a google search can also yield great results and help you find things in your area that meet your interests. Just be sure to check the dates on job listings that you find on google, because sometimes older listings get put into the mix with current ones. Also, double check the location of the job, because sometimes google will ignore location preferences for the highest paying advertised job listing.

Should you Work the Summer Before College

Once everything has changed, the opportunity for those “lasts” will be gone.

               The summer before college will be a time of “lasts” for you. Last time hanging out with all of your friends before you all leave for college. Last time walking around your hometown while it’s still your home. Last time getting ice cream at your local shop with your childhood bestie. Whatever it may be, these are moments that should be prioritized.

               The summer before college, experience and make time for those “lasts,” because money making opportunities will come and go, but you can’t rewind the time. Once everything has changed, the opportunity for those “lasts” will be gone. It won’t be the same, no matter how hard you try.

               That said, you can still work the summer before college, but make sure that you leave yourself enough time and emotional space to process and prepare for the changes and the things that won’t be the same when summer is over. If having a job will mean you miss all those “lasts,” then maybe don’t work. However, if you are going to need money for the school year or not working is not a financial option for you, then absolutely work the summer before college. Just make sure that you also prioritize those “last” experiences. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Conclusion

    Summer jobs are a great use of the free time that you have. No, they may not be the most fun, but they have many profound benefits, especially if you can get an internship within your desired career field. If you’re going into your last summer before college, just be mindful of the space you need to process the changes and experience your “lasts.”

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If you’re debating whether or not you should work after another semester fighting for your life during college, just consider the benefits and how much you need the money during school. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but having that extra cash during the school year can be a huge relief and make life a lot easier when school is doing everything it can to make it hard. If you have the opportunity, and you can handle it, summer jobs are absolutely a great way to go.

For information on Christian colleges or to be entered into one of our scholarship drawings, visit us at The Christian Connector.

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