Seeking A Summer Job? Consider These Tips

Matt Nelson/Unsplash

Have you seen the new spring merchandise in all the stores yet? "But it's just early February!" you say. Right. But spring is coming. In fact, earlier this week, our lovable Pennsylvania groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, brought forth good weather news as he emerged from his abode: There will be an early spring this year!

Maybe his "early spring" prediction will zoom us straight into summer. As the college admissions cycle goes, it's never too soon to anticipate the fast passage of time, which brings me to my article's topic today: planning for summer jobs.

I'm big on forward thinking. That's why I'd like to make some comments about summer and what you, as a high school student aspiring to college (or even you college students), should be thinking about now, before it actually becomes summer. Let's talk about planning ahead for summer and how to find those interesting and sometimes elusive summer jobs.

Start Your Search Now

Summer doesn't officially arrive until the end of the third week of June, but you should start looking ahead now. There are many summer opportunities, if you know where to look. For most of you, summertime is probably work time. If you are going to work, some of you may already have your job lined up. You may even be working one now and will just keep on working through the summer, or you had a good job last summer and your employer told you to come back this year after school ends to pick up where you left off in 2019.

If you don't have a job, it certainly isn't too early to start looking for one now. Many students start their summer job searches in the early spring, around March or April. That's when most businesses that depend on summer help start looking for applicants. Don't be discouraged now, though. There are businesses planning ahead for summer right now, so you have a chance to really get a head start. Keep in mind that as you get closer to summer, desirable jobs become increasingly scarce. They're picked off by early prospectors, one of which should be you.

Summer Plans Should Go Beyond Jobs

If you're a high school sophomore, junior, or senior-to-be, and you don't have plans for summer work, you can still have a profitable summer. You may not want to hear this, but summer is an excellent time to get ahead for next school year. One way to do this is with test prep.

First, you can improve the quality of your reading. I emphasize the word "quality." Summer seems to invite students to turn off their brains and recline into three months of Riverdale, Netflix, video games and social media. Don't be one of those! Go to the library and check out some classics or some poetry. Stimulate your brain! Even if you can make it through only one good book this summer, you'll be ahead of the game.

Another option is to get an SAT study guide (get a good one, like The Princeton Review's) and slowly work your way through the chapters. Even if you don't want to do the lessons, you can study vocabulary lists that will help you prepare for the tougher non-quantitative SAT and ACT sections.

Share Your Job Search Goals With Others

Getting back to your job search, however, do you know where your best summer job opportunities lie?

As I mentioned above, now is the time to start looking for a summer job. Some summer jobs are already taken by students who will return to them this summer. Accordingly, use some intelligent search and marketing strategies to help you unearth new prospects. A job search can be long and frustrating, so be prepared to stay focused.

Here are some ideas that can help:

Market yourself. Tell the community around you that you are looking for a job and that you have a lot to offer. One often overlooked resource is the power of your local newspaper, either the print or digital version (or both). A Job Wanted ad in the classified section is relatively inexpensive and reaches a wide audience.

Many employers scan Job Wanted ads to see if they can quickly find a good candidate for summer employment. Your newspaper may also have an online classified option that parallels its print edition through which you may be able to expand the reach of your ad for little or no cost.

A good Job Wanted ad is clear and precise. It should have a commanding headline, too. Something like, "Super-Reliable College Student Seeks Summer Work." The term "Super-Reliable" adds a nice hook. You've got to grab your readers' attention. Once you've got their eye, give them a good dose of your best marketing points.

You might say, "Very strong math skills. Excellent computer background: Windows and OS X applications. Experienced in report and proposal writing. Publications, editing, photography and desktop publishing. Some web programming. (212) 555-1234 or" Now there's a good ad!

With that, you give anyone cruising the classifieds your 20-second resume ("elevator pitch") and an efficient way to reach you. You could also post your ad on free online bulletin boards in your community, such as Nextdoor, and anywhere else where potential employers might see it.

Run your ad through your network. What's a network? It's the sum of everyone you know who might know someone who has a job opportunity for you. You might even want to make up your own little handouts that have your ad printed on them. Whenever you talk to a friend or relative in your network, give them your ad card. Ask them to be alert for job possibilities for you. You'll be surprised how well this can work. Don't miss a chance to market yourself.

Obviously, the internet is one of the best search tools for summer jobs. One of the better sites I've found is Indeed. I did a quick search for "high school summer jobs" and found over four dozen pages of listings (I stopped scanning after page 53) with 15 job listings per page. Many listings are for summer camp counselors around the country, but the listings also include such jobs (for both high school and college students) as:

Start thinking about your summer work plans now. Many other students in your area are making plans right now. Those who wait may be too late!

Share Your Thoughts

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!