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The ultimate guide to summer jobs

The time we've all been eagerly awaiting is almost here. That's right—we're talking about summer vacation!

After months of waking up before the sun rises, cramming for math tests and going back and forth between basketball practices and student council meetings, it is finally time to sit back and relax. There's plenty of time now to chill with your besties doing all of the activities you've been putting off—grabbing coffee together, mini-golfing, going to the movies and heading to your fave artist's concert. There's just one catch: Each of these activities costs money.

Luckily, summer vacay means you'll probably have a lot more free time in your schedule that can be used for working and making some dough. DW—we know that getting a job, especially your first one, can be intimidating. Check out our tips to make applying for (and getting!) a summer job a piece of cake.

Picking a job

First things first: You have to choose what kind of job you want to apply for. You can choose a job that has to do with one of your interests (like working at a bookstore if you love to read), or you can pick a job that might not be your dream position but still brings in a good amount of cash.

Here are some popular summer jobs you could consider applying for:
☀️Lifeguard: You'll get to catch some rays poolside while keeping people safe.
☀️Camp counselor: You can watch over younger campers and maybe even teach an arts and crafts class or two.
☀️Snack shack cashier: Your little brother will be playing in baseball games all summer long, so you might as well make some money selling snacks at them, right?
☀️Ice cream scooper: This is the perfect job if you want to stay busy on hot summer nights and be surrounded by your fave dessert.
☀️Babysitter/Parent's helper: These jobs are great for younger workers looking to make some money while helping out other families.
☀️Golf caddy: If you enjoy watching golf and want to get your steps in, this is the job for you.

Before applying


Prior to submitting your application or setting up an interview, be sure to do your research on what the position calls for. Some jobs (like babysitting or lifeguarding) require CPR certifications, while others (like being a camp counselor) require clearances that permit you to work with children. These certifications and clearances can take some time to procure, so make sure you can get any necessary paperwork done *before* your job begins.

While many summer jobs accept first-time workers, there are some that require applicants to have prior experience. For example, a restaurant might only hire servers who have experience waiting on tables (but you can always try applying as a hostess and eventually get promoted!). If you really want a job but don't have the professional experience required, feel free to fill out an application focusing more on your previous extracurricular involvement. If you show that you're capable of working and are enthusiastic about the position, you just might get the job anyway.

Extra considerations

To make sure that you can be a reliable employee *and* that you'll be getting what you want out of your summer job, take these into consideration when applying:

A lot of summer jobs stick to minimum wage, which varies by state (some give only $7.25 an hour while others give $15). *But* some jobs let you make tips in addition to these wages (an ice cream scooper might bring in over $50 in cash tips on a hot night!).

Most of the summer jobs you apply to will probably have you working part-time. This means that you might work only three or four days for about 15-20 hours a week in total. If you are looking to work more or less than that, be sure to research how flexible the company is with scheduling. Some companies may be more than happy to give you extra shifts, while others might be more strict about sticking to certain hours.

Although you're on summer vacation, your guardians might not be, which means you may not have a reliable ride to work every day. If you have a license and your own car, you'll have plenty of job options, but if you don't...your possibilities might be more limited. Check out companies that are within walking- or bike-riding-distance or talk to your friends who are also applying about setting up a carpool schedule.

Some summer jobs are just that: For the summer. Come fall, seasonal companies (like ice cream parlors and local pools) will expect you to stop working and focus on school as they pack up for the winter. Other summer jobs (like babysitting or working at a grocery store), however, might be able to be turned into year-round gigs. Keep in mind how long you want to be working, and be sure to talk to your supervisor about your desire to stay with the company (even if a summer job ends, they might still want you to come back next season!).

Time to apply!


After doing all your research and gathering any required materials, it is finally time to apply and get that summer job!

Some companies will have applications posted on their websites that you can fill out online, but others may require you to ask for an application in person. A simple "hi, I saw the hiring sign in the window, and was wondering if I could fill out an application" would be perfect, and you can always bring a friend along to make it less stressful.

After filling out an application, some summer jobs might hire you on the spot, but many will have you complete a short interview. This is the company's chance to get to know you and see if you'd be a good fit. This is your opportunity to talk about how your schoolwork and extracurriculars have prepared you for the job, why you want to work there and why you should be hired. (Don't forget—you can ask the interviewer questions of your own about the position and company!) And remember: The most important things are to be polite and be yourself.

You've got this!

Follow us on Insta @girlslifemag for more summer inspo!

Check out these summer posts:
🏖️Your ultimate guide to smooth skin this spring + summer
🏖️We're ditching the "summer body" mindset
🏖️Simple ways to glow up your room this summer

Top and slider image: @isurecs


by Maggie Salter | 5/16/2024