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6 Types of Summer Jobs for College Students (With Examples)

Summer jobs for college students have certainly come a long way. In the digital era, you have far more options than flipping burgers or lifeguarding at the local pool. Still, it can be a struggle to find a job. Where do you start?

To help you spend less time looking for a job (and more time earning that sweet cash), we’ve put together this guide to summer jobs for college students.

Below, we break down the six main types of summer jobs available to you. While by no means an exhaustive list, it should help you direct your search.

On-Campus Jobs

If there’s something that has to happen to keep the college running during the summer, there’s potentially a job for you.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Maintenance – Somebody has to repair all the crap that students break during the semester, as well as fix any other problems that arise.
  • Foodservice – Even though there are fewer people on campus during the summer, those who remain still have to eat.
  • Campus tour guide – Alumni, prospective students, and other visitors still need tours during the summer.
  • Security – While campuses tend to be a bit calmer during the summer, someone still has to keep people safe. Just be prepared to work the night shift or other odd hours.
  • Research/lab assistant – Professors’ work doesn’t stop during the summer, and it wouldn’t be possible without the help of research and lab assistants. As a bonus, the pay for these positions tends to be a bit higher than other campus jobs.

How to apply: Your college’s website will have a job board showing open positions, as well as instructions for applying. Be sure to apply as early as possible, as summer jobs on campus can go fast!

Other things to note:

  • On-campus jobs will require you to live on or near campus. Be sure to look into the nature and cost of housing arrangements before taking a summer position.
  • Some jobs may not last the entire summer. When I did a research assistantship, for example, I was only on campus for eight weeks.

Off-Campus Jobs (Hourly and Seasonal)

Don’t relish the prospect of spending your summer on campus? Then consider looking for a job elsewhere.

Of all the categories in this article, these are the types of jobs people are most familiar with. So I won’t spend too much time on them. But don’t rule them out just because they aren’t as sexy or prestigious as other options.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Lifeguard – A vital service for the safe operation of beaches, pools, and aquatic facilities. You’ll need to complete some training first, so be sure to plan accordingly.
  • Landscaping – A friend of mine spent the summers working for his parents’ landscaping company. It’s hard work, but you can learn some useful skills in the process.
  • Retail – While it’s no one’s dream job, retail positions are abundant and can teach you valuable interpersonal skills.
  • Serving – Though it’s a demanding job, it’s possible to make solid money if you work at the right restaurant.
  • Mover – Want a summer job that keeps you ridiculously fit? This is your ticket.

How to apply: This will vary based on the job, but typically you’ll apply through the company’s website. Smaller, local businesses may still have paper applications (or no application).

Other things to note:

  • If you plan to take summer classes (online or in-person), be sure the job can work with your schedule.

Gig Economy Jobs

If you want a job with lots of flexibility, then you should look into one of the many gig work apps that now exist. These apps let you sign in and pick up work whenever you want. So, at least in theory, you can scale the amount of work you do to fit your schedule.

Here are some of the main gig economy jobs available:

  • Rideshare – If your city has Uber or Lyft, you can make money driving people around. Note that you need to be 21, and consider that you’ll be putting a lot of miles on your vehicle.
  • Restaurant delivery – Whether DoorDash, Uber Eats, or Grubhub, your city probably has some kind of food delivery app. In larger cities, you may even be able to deliver on a bike or scooter.
  • Grocery shopping/delivery – Grocery delivery apps like Instacart need people to shop for and deliver groceries. Could you be one of them?
  • Dog walker/pet sitter – Apps like Rover give you the chance to earn money while hanging out with animals. Just be aware that this is one of the more competitive gig economy jobs (for obvious reasons).

How to apply: The application process will vary depending on the gig. But the best place to start is the app/website of the company you want to work for.

Other things to note:

  • Tips will typically make up a large percentage of your earnings, so your income can fluctuate.
  • These apps hire people as independent contractors. This means you’re responsible for paying taxes on any money you earn doing the gig. Be sure to put money aside for this each month, or else you could end up with a hefty bill when you file.

Online Jobs

These days, you don’t have to limit yourself to jobs available where you live. The internet makes it possible to do certain types of work just about anywhere.

And while you might imagine you need a college degree to get these jobs, that’s far from the case. For many of these jobs, all you need are the right skills and an internet connection.

Here are a few summer jobs you can do from the air-conditioned comfort of your home:

  • Audio transcription – If you have patience and a good ear, you can earn money turning audio into text for a service like Rev.
  • Teaching English (or another language) – If you speak English (or another language) fluently, there are opportunities to make money teaching it through services like VIPKID and iTalki.
  • Virtual assistant – If you’re organized and digitally literate, then you could make a great virtual assistant. It’s like being a personal assistant, except you perform all your duties online. You can either work freelance or through an agency. We recommend taking this course if you’re serious.

How to apply: Depending on the job, you may need to pass some kind of test demonstrating your skills. You’ll find the relevant application info on the company’s website.

Other things to note:

  • All the online jobs we discuss aren’t limited to the summer. So they could be the beginning of an ongoing, part-time job that extends through the semester.
  • For even more online jobs for college students, check out this article.

Entrepreneurial Pursuits

If a conventional job isn’t your style, consider making your own work. There are all kinds of services you can offer to the people in your community and online. And many of them require nothing more than a willingness to work hard.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Cleaning – Whether it’s the inside of a house or the outside of a car, people will pay for cleaning services.
  • Babysitting/nannying – Demand for childcare increases in summer with kids being out of school. And if you’re trustworthy and good with kids, this is an opportunity to profit.
  • Tutoring – If you prefer to work with older children and have the requisite knowledge, tutoring can be a great source of summertime income.
  • Lawn and yard work – From mowing lawns to picking up dog poop, there’s always someone looking for help keeping their property clean and beautiful.
  • Online freelance work – Writing, graphic design, and video editing are just a few of the ways you can make money freelancing over the summer. Learn how to get started in this article.

How to apply: Since you’re starting your own business, it’s up to you to find customers. We recommend starting with people you (or your parents) know. Even if they don’t need your services, they might know someone who does.

Other things to note:

  • Starting a business involves the risk of making no money or even losing money. So if you’re looking for a guaranteed income, this won’t be the type of job for you.
  • Don’t cut your toe off with a lawnmower or fall off a roof. Be sure the work you’re doing is safe, legal, and within your abilities.

I’ve saved the most coveted type of summer job for last: the paid internship. These positions let you earn money while gaining valuable work experience and building your professional network.

Of course, paid internships in particular are highly competitive. And you’ll need to start the search process up to a year in advance. So if you’re just coming across this article as the spring semester has ended, it’s probably too late.

But if you want to start preparing for next year’s summer internship season, here are some resources that can help:

If nothing else, remember this: it’s never too early to start looking for an internship.

Don’t Spend Your Summer Job-Less

I hope this article has shown you just how many different summer jobs are available to you as a college student.

But beyond that, remember that just reading about jobs won’t get you one. You have to get out there and apply!

Spending the summer on campus? Here’s the survival guide you need.

Image Credits: lifeguard stand