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10 Smart College Summer Jobs

Learn How to Earn Money, Get Experience -- and Still Enjoy the Summer

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Having a college summer job is a requirement for most nearly every college student. But with so many types of jobs available, how can you be sure the job you're getting provides more than just a way to earn money?

10 Smart College Summer Jobs

  1. Get something in your field of study. Clearly, a summer job is a great way to get a bit of experience in your field of study -- as well as show future employers that you have experience in the field already. Art History major, for example? See if you can work in a museum, even if it's just taking tickets. Even a small job that doesn't seem super important can help you see how things run and provide you with relevant experience.

  2. Go abroad/have a cultural immersion experience. Not sure what you want to do? Interested in traveling but can't during the academic year? See if you can work somewhere different during the summer -- even if it's just in another part of the country. Your job may not be as interesting as you'd like, but you can still have a great experience and gain skills you can market later (like language skills, adaptability, and cultural awareness).

  3. Work somewhere that can provide you with networking connections. Even if you get a job that isn't exactly what you want, getting a job that can provide you with connections -- like professional references from your boss and people you'll meet during your time in the office -- can be a smart addition to the paycheck you get every week.

  4. Get a job at the company you want to work for after graduation. Do you have an ideal place for where you want to work after you graduate? Instead of seeing if they are hiring, approach them about doing some kind of summer work. It can be a great way to get your foot in the door and connect you with people so that, when a position does open up, they'll already be familiar with you and your great work.

  5. Find something that will help you get into graduate school. You may be an English major, for example, but you are planning on going to medical school. Show your dedication to the profession by working somewhere that connects more to your graduate plans than your undergraduate career -- like in a doctor's office or hospital. What you do outside of the classroom can often be incredibly important for you graduate school application; make it count!

  6. Look for something that provides amazing benefits. There are jobs out there that provide benefits right when you start or even if you work part-time. They may not be your top choice of what to do, but any job provides money and experience that you can use to your advantage when looking for jobs after you graduate -- and jobs with good benefits can make your life as a student a lot easier. (Health insurance, anyone?)

  7. Find something that teaches you the skills you want. You may know you want to open your own business after you graduate, but your summer job is working at a non-profit community organization. Instead of looking at the job itself, look at what skills you'll gain while working there, like budgeting, marketing, customer service and administrative skills.

  8. Work at a place that provides the time and pay to do what you really want. Are you interested in having an internship -- but your financial situation requires that you have a paying job? Do you want to do research on a topic over the summer but don't have the funding? Find a job that pays the bills and allows you to pursue your other interests during the time you're not on the clock.

  9. Get a job that simply lets you have fun and explore a hobby. Are you, for example, a Sociology major but you love to cook? Getting a job that allows you to explore your hobbies, like cooking, can make you an interesting job candidate after you graduate. (After all, no one wants to hire boring employees, right?!) Look for a summer job that lets you pursue your cocurricular interests while learning important skills you can use later.

  10. Find something that demonstrates your intellectual curiosity. College is a great time to explore things that, while perhaps not specifically related to your career choice, are still interesting and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. So go do an architectural dig in Greece, help organize the archives at a famous library, or work as an artist's assistant. Jobs like these can help you earn the money you'll need while also showing future employers that you're an intellectually curious, hard-working employee.

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