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You’ve survived your first, second, or maybe even third-year of college. Your ability to sip up a cup of ramen is at optimum level: Gordon Ramsey. 

Photo Credit: Andres Rodriguez

But now you’ve got summer ahead of you and instead of spending hours and hours expanding your mind in class, you can spend them in the sun hanging with friends. Or maybe find a job so you can renounce your “Gordon Ramen” title and save enough money to bring in a second food group to the table.

To find your ideal summer job, start by taking these things into consideration:

  • Location: Where you will be and your ability to get to the job is integral. Are you shipping back home? Do you have your own place? Do you have a car? Think about these things before committing to a job you spend half your summer getting to. 
  • Field: Maybe you want something in the field you’re majoring in. Maybe you don’t give a crap. But it can change the game when it comes to finding one. More field-specific jobs require more thought when applying. It’s better to start looking for those before the semester is over, whereas restaurant gigs are a dime a dozen and take much less preparation. 
  • Hours: Are you looking for full time or part time? Early morning or late evening shifts? How much are you willing to work over the summer and when? Use your college-y brain to figure it out.

After you’re done pondering the above, the universe, and the best summer adventure, here’s a list of the best summer jobs for college students to help you pay for said adventure.

Outdoor Jobs

Best part about summer? The weather! Take up a job that is mostly outdoors and you won't feel like you missed out on that golden California sun.

1. Lifeguard

You are a summer superhero/royalty. You sit on your throne surveying the waters, saving swimmers and looking super cool in your swim gear. You get to feel good about taking care of people while looking super hot.

But be prepared to acquire your CPR training before applying. Some pools offer it with the hire but others don’t.

2. Camp Counselor

This is basically code for kid wrangler. Here you help organize activities for kids and help facilitate an awesome summer for them. Camps range from day camps that last a month to overnight camps that last a week. But be prepared to work the whole summer for the camp.

3. Landscaper

Ah, the great outdoors. This job will keep you in shape while you tend to the beauty of someone’s yard. It’s an artform, really. Be prepared for heavy lifting and long days.

4. Golf Caddy

If your passion is golf, it could serve you justice to haul around other's clubs and see how they play. You might even land in the presence of a pro. It’s an especially nice summer gig because you’re outside soaking up the sun while on the job.

5. Farm Hand

During the summer, farmers hire farm hands for tasks like weeding or watering crops. Depending on where you live, there could be a lot of availability to do this. If you’re kicking it in a city, not so much so.

6. Produce Stand Worker

Farms need people to set up and stock the displays at the farmers markets they sell at. This is a great way to get closer to the foods you eat and learn more about where they come from! Also, the food you take home or buy there will be way healthier for you.

7. Plant Nursery Associate

This is for people who love plants and love summer! At a plant nursery, you’ll be deep in the forest of products while enjoying the air and helping customers pick the perfect kind of rose to plant at home.

8. Sign Holder

Think iPod and sweet dance moves. Here you’ll be able to hone in on your inner Shakira/Michael Jackson just waiting to escape. Think of the sweet bod you’ll get from all of the dancing you’ll be doing. You’ll return to college with an extra buck in your pocket and maybe even a sixpack.

Food Service Jobs

If you have a knack for customer service and are ready for some fast-paced environments, look into working in the food service industry over the summer! It's a great way to catch a glimpse into this world with a short-term commitment.

9. Server

Making tips just feels like you’re making more because it’s cash in your hand. As a server, you’ll get to experience this. But be prepared to spend long hours on your feet and return home smelling like food. But you’re young. You’ll survive.

10. Busser

As a busser you, too, get tips all the while not having to be as social as your server counterparts. But same as above, be prepared to spend long hours on your feet and return home smelling like food.

11. Hostess

You’re the welcoming face that people see when they come through the door. This position is best for someone who is organized and can handle a busy environment. Some perks are the delicious discounted food, returned smiles, and tips.

12. Barista

As a college student, it’s highly likely that you’re well acquainted with the dark broth that many have come to call coffee. If you’re not already a coffee snob, you’ll become one working as a barista. Be prepared for early mornings and disgruntled customers wanting their morning drip or fancy espresso.

13. Ice Cream Scooper

This is as close to being ice cream as it gets. You’re right in the action of scooping the delicious frozen treats for children and families alike. Prepare to have a sore forearm through training, but it’ll be worth it when you get to eat all of the ice cream you want!

Caregiving Jobs

Spend your summer days taking care of someone (or something) other than yourself. It's sure to make you feel good along the way to making some money!

14. Housekeeper

Becoming a housekeeper for the summer could be the start of a good habit for you, dear college student: keeping your own dorm/room/studio clean. The hours aren’t too long and tend to be flexible.

Though you leave smelling like a forest, there is an underlying chemical scent. So be prepared to shower the "clean" off of you after work.

15. Nanny

This job is for people who love (or at least tolerate) and work well with children. You get to run around and reap the benefits of child care like digging into the delicious snacks you make for the little ones. But be prepared to come home exhausted. Keeping up with kids is no easy task!

16. Housesitter

The thing about summer is that people travel. Just like you want to go on an adventure, so do other people. It could be worth it to postpone your adventure goals a couple of weeks and make some dough while people are out reaching theirs. Just don’t forget to lock up.

17. Pet Sitter

While people may not need their entire house looked after while they’re vacationing, their pets surely need love and care. Being a pet sitter is a 2-in-1 win of snuggling with something cute and earning cash for it.

18. Non-Medical Caregiver

As a caregiver, you’ll provide companionship and complete helpful tasks for a sweet old person. It’s likely you’ll hear some amazing stories of days past and gain insight into a life outside your own. A highly worthwhile job.

Retail Jobs

Have a knack for selling things? Love spending your days chatting with strangers? These are the jobs for you!

19. Bookstore Sales Associate

If you love the smell of books and curse kindles, this is a match made in heaven. At the bookstore you’ll organize books, check out new releases, and may even get to recommend your staff pick for the front. Also, think of all the sweet books you’ll get a discount on!

20. Receptionist

The need for receptionists rises in the summer because of the number of people staying at hotels, going to spas and salons, and enjoying the warm summer months.

Wanting to work this kind of job means you’re ready to meet the demands of the patrons. Even if it means giving someone a wake-up call at 3 in the morning.

21. Product Merchandiser

This is a fancy term for someone who stocks shelves. For example, you could be making sure all of the paint is in the right place at a hardware store or making sure the tomato soup isn’t mixed in with the chicken noodle at a grocery store.

22. Retail Sales Associate

This easy summer job puts you close to the things you cover your body with every day. Be prepared to fold some shirts and smile at people who are upset that the world doesn’t owe them discounts. This job is good for those who can deal with difficult customers.

23. Movie Theatre Cashier/Usher

The silver screen. The place where many laughs are heard. The place where you could take tickets, usher, or serve popcorn. To get your mind off of college, think of all the free movies you get to watch.

24. Ice Skating Rink Attendant

While everyone is turning into a toasted marshmallow outside, you’ll be cool and comfortable on the ice. You’ll get people their shoes, help round up people at the end of the free skate, and maybe even learn to drive the zamboni. A summer well spent!

25. Internship

This is it. The job you’ve been waiting for. This is an excellent way to spend your summer. You get experience in your field while making a little extra money for the upcoming semester. However, be sure to check if your internship is paid. Not all are.

Driver Jobs

As the title implies, you'll need a car to take on the following summer jobs. If you do have one, these may be great options for those who love to be constantly moving while on shift.

26. App Driver

This applies to all that have a car and an untarnished driving record. You can become a driver for any of the popular taxi-style apps available. You get to work your own hours, which is pretty sweet if your wake up time isn’t before 11 during summer.

27. Parking Attendant

Depending on what lot you work at, you could be giving customers change or waving at them as they pay with a credit card at an automated machine. Your job is to make sure things go smoothly and there aren’t any people sneaking to park for free.

28. Food Delivery Driver

Instead of carting around people, you’ll be carting around delicious food. This job applies to all who have a car. It’s kind of hard to carry a pizza and ride a bike at the same time.

Spend your summer working towards your career, or earning some extra cash so that you can eat more than ramen next year!  

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