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Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students: How to Find Work Between Semesters

Updated on April 21, 2015
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

A professional career coach, Marcy has helped hundreds refine their resumes, improve their interviewing skills, and advance their careers.

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Start searching now for that summer job!

Do you have a teenager or college student who needs to work during breaks from school? Summer jobs can build skills and looks great on a resume. I know from experience that interview teams think highly of recent grads who worked while they were on summer breaks. And employers love to have smart, reliable students working for them during busy seasons when many staff members are on vacation.

Spring break is a perfect time to start looking for seasonal work. Here are some tips to help your teen or college student find a job this spring or summer.

Put out the word!

Summer jobs can be fun!  Well, maybe not that fun, but you get the idea.
Summer jobs can be fun! Well, maybe not that fun, but you get the idea.

How and where to look

Neighborhood Newsletters: Homeowners’ associations and neighborhood groups usually have newsletters (either electronic or on paper). Often, they will post free ads from teens who want jobs doing babysitting, lawn care, pet sitting, or other personal services. If your neighborhood does not have a newsletter, perhaps you have friends who live in areas that do have them, and your teen can place ads there. An advantage to this type of job-hunting strategy is that your son or daughter will work for neighbors in your area, so transportation isn’t an issue, and you may even personally know the homeowner.

Retail Stores: I have lost track of the number of store managers who tell me they don’t get enough applicants. There are generally many openings at various retail outlets; often these are not posted anywhere. The best way to get a retail job is to dress neatly and apply in person. Managers want to see how you will look to customers.

Fast Food & Restaurants: Apply in person at all local eateries. As with retail employers, food-service managers like to see how applicants present themselves.

Hotels and Resorts: The tourist season at resorts and vacation spots is starting soon. Most facilities need seasonal help and are hiring servers, bus help, housekeeping, grounds care and greens keepers. These are generally temporary positions, can often include overtime pay, and can be perfect for teens needing work between semesters or quarters.

Summer Camps: Any sort of residence or day-camp setting is a great place for teenagers and college students who want to pick up spare cash. In addition to traditional jobs as lifeguards, counselors and sports coaches, if your teen is interested in computers, art, theater, electronic games or other areas that appeal to young children, you might find day-camps in your area that specialize in offering children exposure to those skills.

Other opportunities

Construction Workers: Check out positions with new construction, remodeling firms or industrial contractors. Tell your teen to visit sites and ask for the site supervisor; they may hire on-site, or through a central office. Either way, the site manager can put in a good word if someone shows up looking honest, hardworking and eager to do well. Some firms may also have office positions available during the busy summer construction season.

Staffing Agencies: Call Centers often hire through staffing agencies. Unlike the days of ‘employment agencies’ many years ago, these placements do not require a fee from the applicant. If your city has staffing agencies, you will find a ton of openings for hourly as well as professional and tech positions. Often, the positions can include benefits after 90 days and some lead to permanent placements.

Manufacturing Firms: These firms often work on a project basis (such as building products for large orders). They can hire hundreds of people at a time for long-term assembly line or production projects as well as for call centers.

Survey for teens and college students

Do you plan to work this summer?

See results

Survey for moms and dads

Do you want your teen or college student to get a job this summer?

See results

What about a resume?

I often get asked whether teens and students need resumes. Generally, teens will be filling out applications rather than submitting resumes. However, in some cases your teen can have an edge over other applicants if he or she has a well-written resume. Developing a resume and learning how to use it is an important skill, even for adults, so encourage your teen to develop a resume, even for odd jobs during summer vacation. It will impress hiring managers, and it will be a document that can be edited and expanded on in future years.

Does you teen insist there’s nothing to put on a resume? Not so! Spend an hour or so talking with your teen about his or her club activities, sports, leadership roles in school or church, volunteer work and any odd jobs he or she may have held. Every manager remembers what it was like to be young and looking for work (if they don’t remember, then your kid shouldn’t work for them anyway). A good manager will be impressed with your teen’s initiative and creativity in developing a resume at such an early career stage.

Encourage your teen or returning college student to plan now for the job they want this summer! Spring break season starts soon, and it’s a perfect time to visit local companies, get to know hiring managers and submit applications and resumes.


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