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Summer Employment for College Students

written by: Faith Oh•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 6/26/2014

Getting summer jobs for college students can be tough in a tough economy but with proper planning and diligence, it is doable. This article focuses on the various summer job options you have including internships, paid research opportunities and employment on and off campus.

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    Your Goals in Getting a Job

    Summer Job Ideas for College Students When thinking of summer employment, one of the most important considerations should be what your ultimate goal is. While such short-term goals as earning money for your living expenses if you are away from home or saving money to help you toward your college costs in the school year, it is also wise to think of the future.

    You may want to think about how your summer job can help you build valuable experience that will help you in landing your first job when you graduate or gain admission into graduate or professional school.

    There are various types of summer employment options and therefore various ways of earning money. Study the options available, from internships and externships to funded research opportunities to the good old traditional job to choose what is best for you.

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    Internships – Paid and Unpaid

    One of the best ways to build valuable work experience is to participate in internships. The old catch-22 is that no one will hire you without experience, and you can't get experience without working. Internships solve that problem.

    In addition you are able to sample a particular field, company or job and decide if it something you want to pursue as a career. Your employers also get a chance to evaluate whether you are someone they would like to hire in the future.

    Those studying sciences can apply for many research-based, paid internships. You can get information on these kinds of internships from your college career office.

    Other internships are unpaid, but you may be able to apply for grants that support such unpaid work experience and learning activities. Again, your college career office, academic department or academic advisor would likely have information and advice for you.

    You may also explore opportunities with the federal government, which offers various internship and job opportunities for students at various educational levels.

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    Campus Employment or Your Neighborhood Job

    If all else fails and you can't find a prestigious paid internship or get funding for your unpaid internship, you can still fall back on two options: getting a campus job or working in the neighborhood.

    Colleges are open in the summer, some for classes and others for other activities such as summer camps. Many offices on campus need the help of student workers and you may be able to find such jobs. Use the campus network you already have and contact your college human resources office for information on campus jobs.

    Also, do not forget the old neighborhood jobs. Check to see what local establishments need help. You may land a job by walking in and explaining your skills, experience and how you can help their business. It also helps to mention that you are local and from the area.

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    Play Your Cards Right

    If you hunt diligently, you should find something not only to tide you over for the summer, but also from which you will gain valuable experience that should make it to your resume.

    Remember when it comes time to add your summer experience to your resume, sell yourself well. For example, instead of simply stating that you worked as a sales clerk in the local grocery store, emphasize how you gained valuable experience in retail, the things you did to improve sales and clear out old inventory; you get the picture. Always remember to highlight your accomplishments.