8 Summer Jobs That Will Expand Your Skills

By Lorena Roberts on April 25, 2019

As the spring semester comes to a close, college students across the nation are looking for summer employment. Some of us will settle for being a cashier, we’ll simply work more hours at our current job, saving up every penny possible to make finances during the coming semesters less-stressful.

Some of us will hunt for full-time work in our fields of interest. Whether it’s becoming a camp counselor, interning at a business close-by, or relocating for a few months in order to pursue our true passion, working during the summer is one of the biggest priorities for college students (next to taking summer classes and knocking out requirements that we hate).

If you’re looking for summer employment, you have plenty of options. There are pros and cons to all types of jobs. The most important thing is that you have a job. There are so many skills you can learn from working during the summers while you’re in college. I know you’re burned out and you feel like you could sleep for weeks, but when you’re a college student, unfortunately, the grind never ends.

As you look for a summer job, consider the goals you’ve set for yourself. Where do you see yourself after graduation? What kinds of summer jobs could potentially impact the rigor of your resume? What do you generally enjoy dedicating your time to? What kinds of things are you hoping to learn over the summer before classes are in full swing again?

Regardless of your college major, there are summer jobs that will refine the skills you want to possess. You just need to choose the job and/or skills that you’d like to work on and go from there. If you need help choosing a summer job, here are some options and the skills they’ll teach you:

via Pexels.com

1. Camp counselor

When you choose to spend your summer around other people’s children, you’re truly giving up all of your free time to help them parent their kiddos. Sometimes, being a camp counselor can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Getting to work with children and (generally) do activities that are fun can be the perfect way to waste away the summer months. But being a camp counselor is more than just getting kids out of bed for breakfast and walking them from activity to activity. Being a camp counselor means being responsible for multiple children’s well-being. You’ll have to develop more responsibility than you’ve ever had to before in your life. You’ll be more inclined to look at situations from several perspectives. And you’ll potentially meet other camp counselors and campers who will change your life forever.

If you’re trying to go into a field where kids are involved, being a camp counselor during your summers in college will teach you the skills you’ll need for your desired career. When you work with kids, you have to know how to be flexible. You have to be able to come up with games and entertainment on the spot. You have to be responsible for your actions, and constantly stay a step ahead of the kids you’re looking out for. Becoming a summer camp counselor might be the perfect way for you to gain the skills you need to work with children.

2. Receptionist

As silly as it sounds, being a receptionist can teach you how to juggle multiple tasks at the same time. Sure, there are receptionist gigs that require you to say the same phrase over and over and over again, but then there are receptionist gigs that allow you to talk to the public, work with people, and make sure business operations go smoothly.

If you’re looking for an administrative job, or you’re wanting to work on your organizational skills, taking a receptionist job for the summer might be in your favor.

For college students who take summer classes (and don’t we all!), working as a receptionist might be the perfect way to knock out some of those course requirements. When you’re a receptionist, you’re often multi-tasking. You’re doing multiple things at once, trying to keep your head afloat. But there will be times as a receptionist when you’re crazy busy and other times when it seems to slow down. Those are the times when you’ll be able to study and work on your homework.

As a receptionist, you’ll gain skills like active listening, organization, memory, communication, and tech-savviness. After working for two to three months as a receptionist, you’ll be able to juggle class assignments without issue. You’ll learn how to prioritize what’s urgently important and what can wait until later.

3. Nanny/Babysitter

Much like a camp counselor, working as a nanny or a babysitter will give you experiences with children that you’ll need after college. However, unlike a camp counselor, nannying allows you to truly grow close to just a few children, whereas being a camp counselor will put you in charge of several children. Typically, when college students taking a nannying job, they’re transporting kids to and from their summer activities, watching them at the pool, making sure they get their chores done, and run errands for the family in the meantime. Being a nanny definitely isn’t easy, but at least you get to spend your evenings and weekends at home in your own place (for the most part).

Taking a job as a nanny will teach you an infinite number of skills — and if you’re looking to learn what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom or dad, being a nanny is your best bet. You’ll learn what it means to get kids up and ready for the day, transport them to their activities, make sure you have everything packed and prepared, run errands while they’re occupied, and end the day with quiet time and a nutritious dinner. It makes it really easy on a family to have a nanny, but it will put a lot of responsibility on you. You’ll basically become an extension of their family.

via Pexels.com

4. Freelance worker

When you are a freelance worker, you aren’t signing yourself up to make a fortune, but you’ll learn several important life skills. The first of which will be how to make your own schedule and manage your own time. 

When you freelance, you have to actively search for jobs, so you have to be disciplined about how you spend the hours in a day. You’ll have to search for jobs you qualify for, reach out to the person who’s hiring, and then deliver quality work. Otherwise, you won’t be freelancing for very long.

If anything, freelancing is a difficult way to make a living. You have to stay on top of taking jobs and hitting deadlines. You also have to make sure you’re keeping a portfolio of freelancing jobs you’ve completed. If you don’t do this, you’ll have a really tough time finding a job. If anything, people hiring freelancers want to be sure they pick the right person for the job.

5. Waitress/Waiter

At first glance, spending your summer waiting tables might seem like a bore. With random scheduling, tough hours, and hard manual labor, waiting tables isn’t the easiest summer job. However, waiting tables might be the kind of work you’re looking for, especially if you’re taking lots of summer classes or you have a tight summer schedule.

Waiting tables will teach you how to be proactive. You have to put yourself in another’s shoes to really understand what they want while they’re eating. If you work at a high-end restaurant, waiting tables can be pretty stressful and maybe even rigorous. You might feel like this kind of summer job gives you more flexibility (so you have time for your friends and the pool), but if you’re wanting to make as much money as possible, you’re going to end up picking up a lot of shifts for people in order to make ends meet.

If you’re going to learn anything while waiting tables, it’s how to take care of people. But unlike being a counselor or a nanny, you’re going to be taking care of a range of ages, and you’ll get to go home after five or six hours. If you have a pretty tight summer schedule, waiting tables might be the way to learn the skills you want in just a few hours a day.

infographic by Lorena Roberts via Canva.com

6. Tutor/Summer School Teacher

If you’re trying to enter the field of education, tutoring during the summer is one of the best things you can do for your resume. Whether you decide to tutor privately, through a summer school program, or with a tutoring center, having experience teaching is one of the best ways to give yourself the credit you need to land a teaching job later on.

If you’re going to tutor privately, word of mouth is going to be your best advertisement. Once you get linked up with a few families, it won’t take long for them to recommend you to their friends.

7. Lifeguard

Lifeguarding requires a lot of certification, but in the end, lifeguarding can be one of the best summer jobs. You’ll be poolside, getting your tan on, for 8-12 weeks over the summer. As a college student, you’ll love being out in the sun, around kids, and by the pool day after day.

But lifeguarding is more than just sun tanning. You have to prioritize people’s lives. Their safety is truly in your hands. You’ll have to work with your coworkers to ensure you’re always providing the safest environment for the visitors at your pool. This kind of teamwork can be something you’ll be able to bring up in interviews for jobs after college. If you’re looking at going into a field that requires you to work with other people, on a team, lifeguarding could be a good way to get the skills and experience you need.

8. Lawn Care

If you’re a fan of physical, manual labor, lawn care could be the right summer job for you. Plus, this can be an excellent income during the summer months. If you’re going to invest in a lawn care business for the summer, you’ll definitely learn what it’s like to “run your own company.” You have to get your own clients, keep up with their schedules, and then get your butt out of bed to get the work done before the intense heat of the day.

If you’re looking to work on your responsibility, this is definitely the way to do it. When you make yourself your own boss, things can go downhill pretty quickly if you aren’t disciplined enough to keep yourself in check.

When it comes to looking for a summer job, college students are looking for different things. Some of us are just looking to bring home a paycheck, while others of us are wanting to secure a spot at a highly coveted business. It’s all about setting your sights high once you get out of college. Depending on what you want to do once you graduate, you’re trying to sharpen your greatest skills. Once you’ve graduated, you’ll have to sell yourself … and your resume. The jobs you’ve held up until your college graduation will be your biggest selling point when you start interviewing for jobs. You’ll be looking for ways to prove that you’re punctual, responsible, disciplined, and knowledgeable. It all begins with the summer jobs you choose while you’re in college.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her pup at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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