Young female college student in a yellow jacket sitting at her home desk writing in her planner with her laptop open with an open jobs screen

As the spring semester wraps up, college students everywhere start scanning the ‘Help Wanted’ ads for summer jobs. Whether you’re staying on campus to take a few summer classes, heading home for some quality time with mom and dad, or checking out the scenery in a totally new city, getting a summer job is a good way to pay the bills and have a bit of extra spending money until full-time classes pick back up in the fall. 

But a summer job isn’t just a money-maker; it can help you gain experience in your desired field or spend time doing something you’re passionate about. We’ll talk more about the advantages of summer employment for college students and share 22 of the best gigs to get while school’s out. 

Benefits of getting a summer job

Earn money 

Attending college is costly, between housing, food, tuition, and textbooks. Add in a little fun money, and you’ve got a significant list of monthly expenses that don’t stop just because classes have been let out for the summer. An obvious benefit of a summer job is that it can cover or offset some of these costs or help you put money away before the busier fall semester. 

Gain experience

As graduation approaches, you’ll be heavily focused on landing your first “real world” job. To do that, you’ll rely heavily on your resume. Summer jobs allow you to gain valuable experience that will build your skill set and strengthen your resume, both of which can increase future job prospects. 

Make connections

College can be a bubble where you interact mainly with a limited group of friends, peers, and professors. A summer job takes you outside of that bubble, where you’ll encounter people from different walks of life with different perspectives. Whether you’re networking for your future full-time gig or bonding with coworkers over shared hobbies, the connections you make during a summer job can be personally and professionally rewarding. 

Take a mental breather

A full-time college courseload is a job in itself. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for pursuing passion projects or doing activities you find enjoyable. A summer job can offer a welcome mental break from the rigorous schedule of classes, study groups, and exams that’s typical of the fall and spring semesters. 

1. Intern

An internship might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a summer job, but you might be surprised to learn that many internships today compensate participants at a higher hourly rate than you’d find at a part-time gig. Plus, an internship allows you to gain real-world experience in the field you ultimately want to work in, so it’s a win-win. 

As an intern, you’ll be responsible for assisting full-time staff members with projects, conducting research, attending meetings, and potentially working on your own assignments, either independently or together with other interns. 

2. Lifeguard 

What better way to spend your summer than in the sunshine? Lifeguards perform the important duty of watching over swimmers at pools and beaches and responding to anyone in distress. To obtain a lifeguarding job, you’ll need to get certified, which can be completed in 30 to 40 hours. Once you do, you’ll be qualified to apply for positions that will give you valuable leadership and emergency response experience.

3. Camp counselor

If you enjoy working with kids, you’ll find ample opportunities to serve as a summer camp counselor. Counselors supervise and mentor children in a summer camp setting, usually outdoors and sometimes in remote locations. You’ll be responsible for planning activities, ensuring safety, and fostering a positive environment for your campers. Plus, you’ll have a lot of fun getting to know the other counselors, most of whom are likely to be fellow college students. 

4. Nanny

If working with a smaller number of kids is more your style, you can apply to be a nanny for a family and care for children in their home. In addition to entertaining and teaching kids, nannies make and serve meals and may assist with light housework. Some summer nannying gigs even come with the perk of traveling with the family–a paid-for vacation!

5. Tour guide

Tour guides share their knowledge of interesting and historic places with groups of visitors. This job is perfect for outgoing, enthusiastic people who like talking with others. It’s a plus if you have pre-existing knowledge of a site or subject, but it’s not a must.

6. Campground worker

Summer is the season for camping trips, and you could help families make lifelong memories as a campground worker. This role involves maintaining campground facilities and assisting campers, which will help you hone a unique mix of customer service and problem-solving skills. It’s an ideal summer job for college students who love the outdoors. 

7. House sitter

If you can’t be on vacation all summer, why not earn some cash helping others who are? House sitting involves caring for someone’s property while they’re away. You’ll collect mail and water plants, conduct basic upkeep, and ensure the property is secure. This is a great job for those taking summer classes, as you can easily get some studying done while you’re keeping an eye on the house. 

8. Pet sitter

Animal lovers can earn money doing something they enjoy by caring for people’s animals as a pet sitter. Pet sitters feed and walk animals and keep them company while their owners are away. Some pet sitters provide care in the animal’s home, while others host pets at their own place. 

9. Dog walker 

Another good summer job that involves animals is dog walking. With flexible hours and a lot of time spent outdoors, it’s a solid option for students who want to get some exercise while spending time with four-legged friends. 

10. Retail

Retail workers assist customers, stock merchandise and ring up purchases in a retail setting. The option to work night and weekend shifts makes retail work an appealing choice for students who attend class or have other responsibilities during the day. 

11. Fast food

Did you know that approximately one in eight Americans has worked at a McDonalds? There’s a good reason it’s such a common job. While fast food work can be demanding, it can also teach you a lot about teamwork, time management, and customer service. Plus, most fast food restaurants provide employees free or discounted meals on their shifts, which is music to a hungry college student’s ears. 

12. Barista

Mmmm, coffee. If you love it as much as we do, you might try your hand at crafting creative caffeinated drinks as a barista. In addition to gaining interpersonal skills and learning many coffee-based recipes, you may have access to some compelling perks. Starbucks, for example, is famous for providing 100% tuition coverage to eligible full- and part-time employees. 

13. Server 

We firmly believe everyone could benefit from a summer spent waiting tables. Being a server teaches you to think on your feet, perform under pressure, and deal with difficult people. You’ll also walk out of each shift with cold, hard cash, which is a major plus. 

14. Delivery driver

If you don’t have a lot of time to commit to regularly scheduled shifts at a traditional summer job, you could earn money on your own time as a delivery driver for a service like UberEats or DoorDash. You’ll need a reliable vehicle to drive to restaurants and other locations, pick up customers’ orders, and deliver them in exchange for a delivery fee and tip. 

15. Landscaper

All those Saturdays spent mowing your parents’ lawn could pay off if you get a summer job as a landscaper. You’ll mow, trim, plant, and care for various greenery at clients’ homes and businesses. It’s a fitting job for students who enjoy physical labor and spending lots of time outdoors. 

16. Construction worker

Working in construction is a physically demanding job, filled with lifting, moving, building, and demolition. It can also pay really, really well. One of the biggest upsides of a summer spent doing construction work is that it’s an excellent experience to have on your resume if your desired career path involves building or engineering.

17. Virtual assistant

Virtual assistants provide administrative support remotely, assisting people and businesses with scheduling, inbox management, and data entry tasks. It’s a perfect job if you’re looking to work from home and can manage your time independently. 

18. Tutor

If your college studies include advanced topics like calculus or physics, tutoring young students in subjects like K-12 math and science could be a welcome reprieve. You’ll work one-on-one to help kids understand subjects and work through lessons. Seeing pupils learn and improve their academic performance as a result of your instruction can be highly rewarding. 

19. House cleaner

Are you the one your friends lovingly refer to as a clean freak? Turn your talents for scrubbing and polishing into a paycheck as a house cleaner. It’s a job you can do as an employee of a cleaning company or independently by seeking out your own clients. In addition to earning money from each job, you might find the instant gratification of a sparkling clean house incredibly satisfying.

20. Mover

Moving is a pain, plain and simple. Busy families will gladly have your help packing, loading, and unloading boxes of their possessions if you get a job as a mover. You’ll need to be physically fit and comfortable lifting heavy, sometimes unwieldy objects like furniture. 

21. Deckhand

Whether you’re interested in a future in maritime work or you’re just looking to spend the summer on the water, a job as a deckhand could be an ideal fit. Deckhands perform maintenance on boats and ships, assisting with operations and keeping passengers safe. 

22. Caddy 

If flexible shifts, outdoor work, and the potential for generous tips sound appealing, you’re a great candidate to become a caddy. Caddies assist golfers by carrying bags and keeping score. It helps if you also know the game well because golfers often turn to caddies for advice.

There’s something on this list for everyone, so pick the one (or more!) that suits you best and prepare for a great summer of meeting new people, earning money, and building your resume.

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Pete Newsome is the founder of zengig, which he created after more than two decades in staffing and recruiting. He’s also President of 4 Corner Resources, the Forbes America's Best Staffing and Recruiting Firm he founded in 2005, and is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance. In addition to his passion for staffing, Pete is now committed to zengig becoming the most comprehensive source of expert advice, tools, and resources for career growth and happiness. When he’s not in the office or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his career knowledge and expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Finding Career Zen & Hire Calling podcasts. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn