How to score the best summer jobs
Fire up your summer job search! These tips can help you find work fast.
Summer job season is heating up. If you’re looking to line your pockets with a paycheck during these sunny months—and get your parents off your back—you’d better get ready now.
The youth labor force (people aged 16 to 24) skyrockets between April and July each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s not exactly rocket science. It’s summer vacation time, and you need something to do (and earn a buck), right? Turns out, that’s not the only reason to get a summer job.
“[A summer job is] about learning how to work with other people, being a professional, problem solving, customer service, all of those really important power skills that come into play later in life,” says Monique Rizer, executive director of Opportunity Nation. “We see summer job opportunities as a bridge to careers.”
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a job this summer, expect some competition. Use this strategy to make sure you’re not left sitting on the couch while all your friends are working.
Get there first
For many summer jobs, the requirements often aren’t too tough. In Rizer’s experience, organizations that hire young people are looking for eagerness to learn, energy, and fresh ideas and perspectives.
Since there aren’t many tough qualifications required to hire, employers will move fast on these jobs, so you want to be out ahead of the needs. Start looking ASAP.
Target the top industries for summer jobs
Though the unofficial job of the summer may be lifeguard (and rightfully so), here's a sample of other industries that typically hire for the summer, and what types of workers they need:
Construction: Summer is prime time for building, especially in the Midwest and Northeast, where harsh winters prevent outdoor work. Not all construction jobs involve heavy lifting or standing in the sun all day. Project managers and engineers are in demand for these summer gigs as well, says Jocelyn Lincoln, senior director of Americas marketing for Kelly Services.
Hospitality: Hotels, motels, resorts, campgrounds, restaurants, marinas, beach clubs, and country clubs all need extra staff to deal with the influx of visitors during summer. Hospitality jobs range from front desk attendants to housekeeping to food service to valet attendants and beyond.
Landscaping: Like construction, the landscaping industry needs a lot more workers in the summer than in the winter. And again, although some jobs will involve working on the landscape crew, landscaping companies may also hire extra people to answer customers' questions and schedule jobs.
Office work: Even in industries where there's no particular uptick in work to be done over the summer, there may be opportunities. Workers go on vacation, after all, and in some cases companies have to fill their positions with temp workers for a few weeks.
Recreation: Summer camps fill numerous positions, including counselors, coaches, instructors, cooks, nurses, and coordinators. Not to be outdone, amusement parks, theme parks, water parks, pools, arcades, and movie theaters also need extra hands on deck.
Tourism: Visitor centers, tour companies, and travel companies all see an increase in business during the summer. They'll hire people to work onsite but may also need help behind the scenes. Jobs may be available working the phones for customer service, for example, Lincoln said.
Keep cool, but be persistent
Of course, look for the jobs online, and send in an application. But don’t just leave it there, Rizer says. Try to arrange to go in and meet the people you’d be working with.
“Make a connection so they know who you are in addition to what you look like on paper,” she says.
Bring a resume
You’ll have a leg up on the competition if you put together a resume, even for that first job. “We want young people to be thinking about their brand and image early on,” Rizer says.
She suggests using your resume to talk about the experiences you’ve had both inside professional settings as well as things you’ve done at school or in the community that can highlight skills and characteristics that are valuable to employers. (Need some help? You can get a free resume evaluation from the experts at Monster's partner TopResume.)
There are no secret skills required to land a summer job—employers are looking for candidates with technical know-how, communication skills and reliability. You should be flexible and display a willingness to just get the job done.
Think “career planning”
While it’s certainly fun to spend a summer scooping ice cream or working at a camp, don’t overlook opportunities for summer internships in your field. Most medium- to large-sized companies offer internships. These can be in a variety of departments—like engineering, accounting, IT, marketing, and sales—many of which are paid.
Look for opportunities in your field of study—you can search “engineering internship” on Monster, for example—as that’s where you’ll have the best odds. And ask your college or high school counselor for suggestions, says Rizer.
The benefits go beyond June, July and August. You’ll gain relevant work experience, make valuable contacts and potentially open up job opportunities for after you graduate. “By hiring summer interns,” says Stephen Colón, who coordinates youth training at CONNECT2Careers in San Diego, “companies build a ‘bench’ of future entry-level employees.”
See a list of the top companies hiring summer jobs on Monster.