Summer Employment for College Students

College students spend their summers in many different ways.

Some decide to study abroad or take summer classes on-campus, while others look for part-time jobs or seasonal internships. Some try to find places to work back home or around the area they go to school.

Below are some options for summer employment for college students:

Advice for freshman and sophomores

At smaller colleges, most freshman and sophomores usually go back to their hometown to find summer employment. Some might return home to work at a coffee shop or clothing store that they have worked at part time in the past. This is primarily because smaller schools tend to require their freshmen and sophomore students to live in the dorms for the first two years, meaning that they don’t have a year-long lease to pay. Summer employment for college students at larger colleges and universities is a bit different; it’s more common that underclassmen stay around campus during the summer because they can get an apartment after their freshmen year and even find apartments just for the summer.

Advice for juniors

By the time junior year comes around, most students are trying to find internships in their field of study. In this day and age, paid internships are hard to come by. If you can find one in your area of study you’ve got to take it. However, unpaid internships look just as good on your resume. Employers may sometimes view unpaid internships as more impressive because they know that the students who take these opportunities are committed, motivated, and hardworking people. College students that graduate with experience in the professional work place have an advantage over other students who leave college without any “real-life” work experience—especially if the internship leads to a job, which happens quite frequently.

If you can’t find any internships, explore summer employment for college students like a student worker position on campus. I’ve had friends work at the admissions office, give tours around campus to prospective students, be peer mentors for student orientations and registration, work for the campus’ ground crew, work as a technical assistant at one of the college’s computer labs, work at the library or rec center and even help their professors work in the lab or do research. There are are plenty of student jobs out there but you’re more likely to nail down those jobs if you can keep working for them throughout the school year.

Be Proactive

No matter what type of summer employment you’re after, you have to be pro-active about finding it and applying for the position. Students that wait around until March or April to apply for jobs usually are not going to have a place to work over the summer. This is especially true for professional internships. Most of these opportunities have deadlines so it’s vital that you stay organized and prepare all of your application material well before the deadline.

I have been lucky with summer employment as a college student, which is probably evident from the beginning of this post. After my freshman and sophomore year, I returned home to teach tennis lessons in my community. I directed and taught kid’s camps for a local tennis foundation and taught private and group lessons to members of the community who found me on Craigslist.

By my junior year, I had really sunk my teeth into my major and was loving every minute of aspiring to be the next big time journalist. I had some stories published in my college’s newspaper and I wanted to apply for the reporting internship at the local daily paper. I sent them my application, resume, and cover letter in February and was offered the job on the phone in April. The internship was spectacular and it was truly life changing.

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Jack Cullen

Jack Cullen

Jack Cullen is a senior at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, and is pursuing a degree in multimedia journalism and mass communication. Outside of the classroom, Jack writes for his college’s newspaper as well as a local daily newspaper. Jack is also the captain of the men’s varsity tennis team at Augustana. When he’s not on the court or searching for his next story to cover, Jack loves traveling and taking adventures with his friends and family.