The Best Summer Jobs for College Students

School’s out for summer. The sun is shining, there’s no more midterms, and you know one thing: you need to get a job. Whether you’re in your first year or you’re a super senior, “Full Time Netflix Binger” and  “Expert Level Ramen Cook” don’t look good on any resume, no matter how you frame it.

If you’re looking to spend your summer wisely, you’ve probably realized you need a part-time job. It’s best to begin your search before the season actually hits, and you’re still scrambling to find work. Here are some options for you to bring in the bucks between your semesters. 

What Are You Looking for in a Summer Job?

In 2018, the summer employment rate for college-aged students, or people in their late teens and early twenties, was 46.2%. That’s almost half of your peers gearing up and going to work during the course of their break. 

At the same time, jobs for students are becoming more scarce, with summer jobs seeing an overall decline after the economic downtown the early 2010s due to the Great Recession. While the economy is on the rise, you’ll need a solid plan to enter into the summer workforce.

  • Hours

Unless you’re seeking a full-time internship, the majority of summer jobs for college students are part-time. Some jobs lean more toward thirty hours a week, while others can offer 10-15. Are you searching for an evening shift, or do you want to work early in the morning? Answering these questions can help you narrow your search.

  • Location

If you’re headed home for summer, obviously, you want to seek out jobs in that area. However, maybe you want to cast a wide net and apply for jobs in both your hometown and your university’s location. Of course, if you don’t have a car, you’re going to need to look for local opportunities. You might also consider if you’re willing to travel to a completely different location altogether.

  • Concentration

If you’re trying to find a job in your field of study, you’re probably going to need to begin looking for a job months before summer arrives. Other jobs that require less specific skill sets are going to be easier to come by. We’ll delve into several areas of concentration that offers some of the best jobs for college students.

Food Service

20% of undergraduates are employed by the food industry. Food service jobs offer flexible hours, and many employers don’t require previous experience for certain positions. The ability to pick up tips makes these jobs appealing, along with the fact that they typically don’t require a long-term commitment.

  • Hostess: One of the jobs that requires little experience, being a hostess is an ideal way to make extra money in college. Greet guests, check them in, and then bring them to their tables. Certain establishments even let you get in on the tips.
  • Busser: Bussers typically earn a percentage of tips from the parties they’re bussing. Cleaning tables, bringing dishes to and from the kitchen, and assisting the wait staff in various different ways are all tasks that tend to not require any previous experience.
  • Server: One of the more demanding restaurant positions, you’re up and front with the customers. Here, you can expect to earn the largest part of the tip. You can serve at a small mom and pop shop that might not ask for prior experience, or a more upscale venue that could favor previous work in the field.
  • Dishwasher: If you don’t mind the hard work and hours on your feet, you probably already have experience washing dishes from at least some point in your life. As a dishwasher, you keep the kitchen in orderly condition and aren’t required to interact with restaurant guests.


The retail industry is tied at 20% for employing the most college students. Again, many of these jobs don’t expect the candidate to have experience in the field, increasing your chances of getting a good summer job. Retail jobs come in many forms with many different duties.

  • Sales Associate: One of the broader positions on the list, as a sales associate, you could work with clothing, books, technology, beauty products, or various other merchandise. You’ll learn to operate a register and interact with customers, a skill you can carry with you into a future career.
  • Movie Theater Attendant: A summer job as a ticket-taker is another common place for college students to earn extra money. A perk? Free movies.
  • Overnight Stock Clerk: For those who know that interacting with customers isn’t for them, this position is prime. Overnight stock clerks work late hours, stocking inventory and preparing the store for the next day.
  • Grocery Store Associate: Grocery markets are often looking for friendly young people to stock shelves, work the cash register, and assist customers with heavy lifting throughout the store. Some might even offer positions in specialty areas like the bakery, the juice bar, or the deli.

Miscellaneous Jobs

The catch-all for college summer jobs, these are some tried and true ways that students use to make extra money in college.

  • Camp Counselor: Most of these jobs put candidates through a rigorous interview process. High-energy students who are good with kids will thrive. Expect to be away for most of the summer.
  • Driver: Signing up to be a driver for a service requires a background checking process and a car that’s fairly new, but could be a way to earn extra money by setting your own schedule.
  • Lifeguard: The classic summer job, working as a lifeguard requires training beforehand. However, these jobs tend to pay well and allow you to spend your whole summer in the sun, even while you’re working.
  • Nanny: Babysitting gigs also tend to have a high pay rate, and allow for flexibility when it comes to hours. Network with friends and family to see if you can score a nanny job.

Start Neighboring

The best summer jobs for college students might be out there, but we know they’re hard to come by. At Start Neighboring, we give you the opportunity to connect with people in your local community looking for help with their everyday tasks. You can be a mover, a gardener, a dog walker, and more. Get signed up today to see how you could be earning money by helping your neighbors.