The Best Summer Jobs - Summer Week on BTR


Photo by Roadsidepictures.

Summer is a lazy time of the year when young people are used to having a break from school and working adults have reserved their vacation time. It’s a time for sunny beaches, flip-flops, outdoor concerts, and ice cream. The trouble is you can’t go to the beach or a concert or get flip flops and ice cream without money.

Regardless of how much you were looking forward to that little break, a summer job is quite a necessary thing. In this economy, it seems unlikely that anyone would land a real resume-builder for just the summer months. There are internships, but be weary of which one you chose. While they can be great for building experience and making connections, some businesses take unfair advantage of their interns. Make sure that your experience is working for you, especially if it’s an unpaid position (which they often are).

So if internships aren’t appealing, what summer jobs are? Whether you’re in between education years, just finished college, or in a transitional period of your career, consider one of these great summer jobs to carry you through the warmer months.

Work on a promotional street team. Street teams aren’t as bad as they seem, and most of the time they come with great bonuses. Pick something interesting, where any of the freebies would actually appeal to you and hit the ground running. It doesn’t require much attention or dedication, and most of these jobs actually pay pretty well. Yes, it’s by the hour and these are largely part-time stints, but the more you help promote, the more free stuff you’ll get. It can actually be really fun walking around and talking to people, plus it’s all outdoors so unlike most desk jobs, you’ll be able to enjoy actual sunlight.

Be a clerk at a movie or record store, if that’s your thing, of course. MP3s and Netflix haven’t completely taken over yet, and these gem stores can be a great place to get to know people of similar interests (coworkers and customers alike). Not to mention the obvious–that you get paid to watch movies and listen to records all day.

Work at a specialty summer camp. It’s way better than working at a general summer camp, trust me. At a day camp with a specific focus (i.e. an arts camp, or musician camp), you’ll be counselor to kids who are genuinely interested in what you’re doing, who really want to be there, and who will probably behave themselves a little better. The average town day camp, for example, functions pretty much exactly the same way school does, except you’re not a certified teacher. Younger kids don’t usually understand that and expect you to do things that were not in the job description.  But at an art camp or music camp, for example, where kids have asked to take part in these activities, they will look to you for advice and leadership—not as a babysitter. While there is nothing mindless or even particularly easy about being a camp counselor, it’s a very fulfilling position and tends to pay well.

Lifeguarding. In keeping with the camp theme, lifeguarding is (in my opinion) the best summer job out there. It’s not the easiest job in the world, but the daily routine doesn’t take much out of you. First and foremost, lifeguards get to sit by the beach or pool all-day, every day. They get paid (pretty well) to sit in the sun, tan themselves and save the occaisional drowning five year old, and what could possibly be wrong with that? Each hour or so of work comes with 15 minutes or so of rest, as lifeguards rotate shifts frequently to keep their mind and eyes stimulated. Pool lifeguards and waterfront lifeguards have different responsibilities, and require different certifications. The only pitfall to this job is that you do have to pay for your own certification, usually, but that will pay for itself. Whether you end up lifeguarding poolside or sand-side, ultimately you get to be by the water, in the sun, doing an important but relatively undemanding job.

Deliver pizzas. While it’s not the most glamorous job on earth, it is a very hands-off approach to earning money. You get to drive your own car around (and the pizza place will usually pay a certain amount per mile driven), get free food (within reason), and get tips in cash. Pizza delivery folks walk out of work at a relatively decent time for the food business with a big ol’ chunk of untaxed change.  Additionally, driving your own car around means listening to your own music as loud as you want. Maybe not the best suggestion on the list, but a pretty good option nevertheless.

Work at a music venue. The ideal job for someone who loves live music and making money. Ticket check, security, vending, merchandise, artist hospitality–there are countless jobs that need to be done to make a live music event run smoothly. Apply at any venue and, if successful, they’ll usually assign you where you fit best, so for example, a big, burly man is not likely be found at the merch table just like a small, pretty girl wouldn’t be stuck working security. You’re there while all the action is happening, even if you can’t see it, and lucky employees sometimes get a glimpse of the performing acts when they arrive early at the venue.

None of these jobs are meant to be long-term or resume building, but it’s certainly more helpful to have something than nothing. Summer jobs are supposed to be easy to do and easy to leave, and employers know that. So don’t stress over summer work, keep it light and airy, but make sure it gets done and that money goes in the bank. Summer can still feel like a break if you can find a job that asks just a little less than typical daily grind.

Readers, what are you doing for work this summer? Got a better job than those listed here? Leave it in the comments section!