15 best summer jobs for college students

Once final exams are under your belt, you might be imagining a summer of rest and relaxation. But it’s also possible to use the season to make some money. College is expensive—and a summer job could help pad your budget.

If you’re searching for a gig between semesters, check out some of the best summer jobs for college students below.

Key takeaways

  • Working a summer job can help college students earn money, build skills and learn to manage money.
  • Many college summer jobs may be on campus, outdoors or in retail stores.
  • Open positions are often listed online, and tapping into a network can also lead to opportunities.
  • Applying for a summer job typically requires things like a resume, a cover letter, a letter of recommendation and interview prep.

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15 summer job ideas for college students

When considering a summer job, it helps to take stock of your unique skills and professional goals. Do you love to teach? Passionate about science or English? Dreaming of a career in sales? There’s probably a job for that:

1. Intern

Internships offer work experience that can help you decide if you like the job—before launching into a career. Summer interns might do administrative tasks like data entry or small hands-on projects. But it really depends on who you’re working for. Having an internship on your resume could attract future employers and even lead to a full-time job. Some internships may be unpaid or count as college credit.

2. Tutor

Tutors might help K-12 students or college peers learn a certain subject and prepare for testing. Tutoring is also a way to brush up on your knowledge and stay connected to schoolwork while earning some extra cash.

A college student tutors another student while sitting outside.

3. Research assistant

If working alongside a faculty member to help with academic research sounds exciting, then a research assistant might be the right summer job for you. Research assistants may organize notes, collect data, manage a calendar and conduct research interviews.

4. Campus tour guide

Love your college? A campus tour guide leads potential students around the school, sharing facts and answering questions. It’s a way to build skills in sales and public speaking—while sticking around campus for the summer.

5. Babysitter or nanny

With skills in child care, cooking and basic cleaning, a college student could find a babysitting or nannying gig while kids are out of school for the summer. Babysitters may work as needed, whereas nannies tend to have a more consistent schedule.

A college student babysits a small child as a summer job.

6. Lifeguard

Lifeguarding at a pool, water park or public beach comes with a big responsibility—keeping swimmers safe—and requires certification. But it can also be a way to spend time outside while earning money.

7. Camp counselor

If summer makes you think of a ropes course, arts and crafts and singing around a bonfire, then working as a camp counselor might be up your alley. You also may be able to work at a specialty camp that focuses on certain abilities like sports, music or science. Camp counselors often oversee a cabin of kids and lead activities during summer camp.

8. Dog walker

Dog walking is a way to get outdoors while spending time with furry faces. There are apps to connect dog walkers with owners who need someone to walk their dog while they’re at work or out of town.

A person walks their clients’ dogs outside.

9. Landscaper

Landscapers typically care for other people’s lawns by doing things like mowing, weeding and watering. This job might require spending a lot of time in the sun—so hydration and sunscreen are key.

10. Barista

For folks who already frequent coffee shops, why not step behind the counter? Baristas take customer orders and prepare coffee drinks. They also might get tips, which can boost the amount earned in a day.

11. Food server

Similar to baristas, servers usually take orders, prepare food and clean the kitchen and restaurant areas. It might also help build customer service skills for your resume.

A food server earns income during the summer between college semesters.

12. Retail sales associate

Retail sales associates can work in stores that sell clothing, technology, books or other goods. Sales associates typically run the cash register and help customers find what they’re looking for. They might also organize products and restock shelves.

13. Delivery driver

If you’re happy spending time in the car, becoming a delivery driver could let you get paid for dropping off goods to customers. Delivery drivers might work for a business or pick up jobs on an app.

14. Transcriber

Transcribing can be a work-from-home side hustle. Transcribers typically listen to audio files and turn them into written documents. Typing and grammatical skills are a plus. You might be able to find transcribing jobs on certain websites.

A college student gets paid to transcribe from a computer at home.

15. Work-study

For students with financial need, a work-study program can be a way to earn money for educational expenses. These part-time jobs are usually funded by universities and might be related to your studies or community service.

What to consider when looking for a summer job

With the number of summer jobs out there, it can be tricky to know where to start. Don’t get bogged down in applications—instead, consider these factors when choosing which jobs to aim for:

  • Goals: What would you like to gain from a summer job? It could be industry experience, skills for your resume or payment to do something you enjoy. Identifying a goal for the summer can help narrow down choices.
  • Skills: Speaking of resumes, summer jobs are a way to learn or improve certain skill sets—like customer service, administration, teamwork and technical skills. Try applying for a job that uses skills you’d like to improve.
  • Schedule: Either a part-time or full-time job might be an option, depending on your availability. Things like summer classes and vacations may affect the hours you can work.
  • Pay: The amount a job pays per hour will add up over the course of a summer. For example, earning the minimum wage of $7.25 versus $15 an hour becomes the difference between earning $290 and $600 for a 40-hour workweek. Factors like the skills gained, schedule flexibility and commute may help determine how much payment you’ll accept.
  • Budgeting: Once you start earning income, it’s a good idea to learn how to create a budget. Consider setting up direct deposit for paychecks and making financial goals so you know where your money goes.

Where to look for a summer job

Your dream gig could be waiting—it just depends on the job search. Here are a few common places to look for a summer job:

  • College career services: Many colleges post on-campus job opportunities. Consider checking your college’s website or meeting with an adviser to learn what’s available.
  • Networking: It’s worth talking to mentors, professors and friends who could introduce you to a hiring manager or point you in the right direction.
  • Job-listing websites: There are a number of websites that help connect job seekers with open positions. Try narrowing the search to your location, skill set and availability.
  • Company websites: If there’s a company you’re interested in working for, you could head straight to their website to check for any open positions. Even if there are no job listings, consider calling or emailing the human resources department to express your interest.

How to apply for a summer job

So you found a job posting that fits your goals, skills and desired pay? Now it’s time to nail the application.

Some companies offer an online application form, while others might ask you to email a cover letter and resume. It may also be possible to apply in person. Here are a few things you’ll likely need:

Keep in mind that an applicant’s ability to follow directions, weed out typos and follow up with employers may improve the chances of getting hired. With a little extra effort—and a handful of applications—you could land the summer job that’s right for you.

Summer jobs for college students in a nutshell

College students with a summer job can earn extra cash while building a skill set. Whether you want to work outdoors, on campus or at your favorite retailer, many open positions can be found online or through networking. And a fine-tuned application could help get you in the door.

Taking on the responsibility of a summer job might mean it’s time to start thinking about another thing—building credit. You could start by exploring student credit cards and considering how to use them responsibly.

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