By Dylan Bartlett
Many school counselors, advisors, and other well meaning adults try to push the frankly presumptuous assumption that every teen should — and can — spend their summer taking college classes, doing academic work, or attending camps and programs for their favorite subject of study. You probably know this already, but some teens have to work, and what’s more, some teens want to work!
So many suggestions of summer activities that boost college applications cost money rather than making money, which isn’t feasible for everyone. Often, it isn’t financially realistic for every family. And if you’re not sure what you want to do in college yet, it’s more important to build and explore life skills, which is an experience a job can provide. Colleges often value work experience just like any other extracurricular activity because it shows responsibility, time management, teamwork and leadership.
While any job you have should go on your college application, there are a few types of employment you can keep in mind during your search so you can get the most mileage out of your experience.
1. Using Your Skills and Passions
One of the best ways to make a job work to your advantage on a college application is to find something in your area of interest or passion. If you’re going into the humanities, could you find employment at the local library? If you’re a performing artist, could you assist at your dance studio’s summer programs?
Finding a job that utilizes your skills and talents is a great way to work your excellence into your employment. Plus, jobs like these can be fun and fulfilling.
Whether you have a subject or two you excel in or you’re academically well rounded, tutoring is a great way to directly apply your book smarts to your summer employment. Many parents like to keep their kids’ minds active during the summer, so you can probably find an influx of tutoring gigs when school lets out. This works great with the schedule of your school year and allows you to keep your brain moving during the summer, too!
Plus, depending upon the hourly rate and your qualifications, you could make more per hour than you would at a traditional job, either freeing you up for a bit more well deserved downtime or increasing your cash flow. If you have any especially satisfied parents, you can even ask them to write one of your college recommendation letters so you can really show your smarts.
If you’re looking for a summer specific job with plenty of practical skills and love spending your time at the pool, lifeguarding might be for you. Lifeguarding demonstrates professionalism and leadership skills, which colleges value highly. Other practical skills like CPR and first aid training are required for lifeguarding, which show commitment, knowledge and expertise.
Depending upon the state you live in and the organization you’re looking to pursue a job with, you can start as young as 14 or 15, which gives you a jump as opposed to other jobs that often require you to be 16.
There are so many childcare jobs that the summer can provide. With younger kids out of school and parents still at work, nannying and babysitting will be on the rise.
If you’re looking for a more organization based approach to finding a childcare job, you can look for camp counsellor positions at day camps or sleep away camps. Childcare jobs are an excellent opportunity to demonstrate compassion, responsibility, and leadership skills in college applications.
5. Office Assisting
Many high school students don’t consider working in an office as an option, but many offices offer temporary work in data entry, filing, and other simple office tasks.
Having a job like this can demonstrate a high level of professionalism and skill, which colleges value highly. If you can find a company that operates in your field of interest or study, that’s even better.
6. Retail and Food Service
Retail, food service, and customer service all demonstrate skills like teamwork, patience, and dedication to hard work. Especially if you can reflect on these experiences with nuance and maintain a growth mindset, you’ll know that working these jobs can increase your understanding of the world around you.
Jobs like these are often unpredictable, as dealing with people is no easy feat. If you work in retail or food, don’t leave it off your college application, because it says a lot about your perseverance and work ethic.
Starting a Summer Job
Summer jobs have the power to transform your college application all while earning you some cash. You don’t need fancy camps or programs to shine in the application pool. Often, you just need to get creative.