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Articles / Applying to College / Summer Job Ideas

Summer Job Ideas

Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | May 15, 2012
Summer Job Ideas

Ah, high school summers. How well I recall. Gas was $0.30 per gallon and the livin' was easy . . . until I needed to buy some gas, get new tennis shoes, or go out on a date. So, being the brilliant strategist that I am, I figured out that I needed a summer job. Jobs weren't as hard to come by back in the mid-'60s, certainly not as hard as it is today. I just sat down and made a list of semi-influential people I knew and checked out the local temp agency ("Manpower" was its name; I wonder if it's called "Personpower" these days).

Anyway, my high school summer jobs consisted of being a busboy at the local Holiday Inn, where I learned a lot about what happens to restaurant food while it's being prepared. Trust me; it's better not to know. I also lugged heavy boxes of Cold Power laundry detergent samples door-to-door in a six-county region of my state. My job was to take one of the small sample boxes of Cold Power, put it into its plastic bag along with the advertising leaflet, hang the bag on the front-door handle and ring the doorbell. These heavy boxes of samples weighed about 35 pounds when full and those of us in the distribution crew carried them with a strap that went around our necks. Maybe that's why I can't look to my right.

I also worked as a tennis instructor, which was no doubt my favorite summer job. I got paid for taking care of a country club's beautiful clay tennis courts as well as showing lovely young ladies the advantages of the drop volley. But I digress.

The point of discussing summer jobs here is to point you to an informative article that explains a dozen solid ideas about what you can do this summer to earn money both for college and general living expenses.

Ideally, you should have been searching for summer jobs already. However, perhaps an idea here will give you a clue as to where to look and you'll luck out by snagging some paid action. Here are the highlights:

12 Great Summer Jobs for High School Students

by David Quilty

Working during the summer when school is out of session is a great opportunity for teenagers to make money and assert their independence. Having a summer job can help you earn spending money, pay for college, and gain practical experience for a future career, all while providing opportunities not available during the school year.

Deciding what you want to do is the hard part. Do you want to work outside? Work with others? Work with animals? Once you figure that out, you will find that there are summer jobs that fit the bill for almost any interests you may have.

As a high schooler, you may feel as though you lack the necessary experience to land a prime gig. However, there are plenty of jobs you are qualified for that pay rather well. Both part-time and full-time jobs are available for people of all abilities.

Summer Jobs & Opportunities for High School Students

1. Babysitter

Friends of mine with two young children pay their babysitter $15 per hour – that's not a bad pay-rate for a part-time summer job. Ask any parent, and you will find that good babysitters are hard to come by. Do a great job taking care of the kids, and you could find yourself gainfully employed, earning great income and setting your own hours all summer long. ...

3. Pool Cleaner

Whether working for yourself or for a pool-cleaning company, being paid to spend your days outdoors and poolside is tough to beat. It's hard work, but everyone needs their pools cleaned during the summer, so you shouldn't have any problem finding customers or an employer.

Getting solid references is key to making this a successful summer job, as that's how you will fill up your roster with enough clients to keep you busy until school starts. Attention to detail and taking pride in a job well done are vital to your success. ...

5. Tutor

Summer is usually spent on vacation, but many students use summer break to continue or enhance their education. If you are strong in any particular subjects, you could put up notices on bulletin boards around town to offer your services as a tutor. ...

7. Golf Course Caddy

The hourly pay may not be great, but the tips and perks can make hitting the links to work a worthwhile way to spend your summer. Caddies are not normally used at local and inexpensive courses, but at exclusive clubs, caddies often receive a tip equal to 50% of the caddy fee. Depending on the course, that can amount to a healthy sum of money for a few hours work. Add in the sunshine and the free exercise, and caddying can be an enjoyable gig. ...

9. Lifeguard

Lifeguards do an incredibly difficult job day in and day out. But lifeguards also enjoy their jobs, as they get to work outside, often alongside friends, in a fun environment.

While requirements can vary, the Red Cross has standards for lifeguarding that most municipalities follow. These standards include first aid requirement, CPR certification, bloodborne pathogens training, and basic water rescue. ...

10. Newspaper Delivery Person

Paper delivery can be a tough endeavor, and if you are tasked with a driving route, you will be required to have both a clean driving record and auto insurance. However, you are usually done with work by 6am, leaving you the rest of the day to enjoy your summer vacation. ...

12. Dogwalker/Pet-sitter

Summer is vacation season, so many people hit the road to their favorite destination during those months. But what about their pets? That's where you come in, taking care of the animals that have to stay home while the family goes on vacation. ...


I haven't listed all of Quilty's dozen ideas, so you'll have to check out his article for the rest and the remaining details about those above. Next time, I'll give you a glimpse of what Mr. Q thinks are the best ways to actually land a summer job. The competition is fierce these days. Even though we're supposed to be enjoying yet another "Summer of Recovery," things are still tough out there, so pay attention. The gas you can afford may be your own.


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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