Undergraduates may still be taking a job in the local factory to gain much needed funds, but they’re just as likely to be spending at least part of their summer working in an unpaid internship or heading off overseas to work. In this article, we look at opportunities for paid summer work. We consider the options and explore ways in which you can find the summer experience to suit your needs.
Benefits of Summer Work
Ideally, summer holidays would be spent actually taking a holiday. However the reality of student loans and finances means that for many, earning additional income is a priority. If a positive experience can be gained at the same time, then so much the better.
The advantage of summer jobs is that you are free to focus on your studies and social life during term time. This saves you having to juggle commitments. The downside is that you may not have a positive cash flow as money is not coming in regularly during the term – this may mean that summer is spent trying to eliminate existing debt rather than getting ahead for the coming year. However, you are more likely to earn a better rate with a weekly or monthly wage offered through summer employment, than with the hourly rates offered by part-time work during term time.
Summer work may present an opportunity to work with an employer to a greater extent, focusing on a project or handling a sole area of work every day for some weeks. If you can find work that relates to your studies, this may lead to permanent work in the future, once your studies are complete.
The more in-depth nature of the work may create more solid experience to add to your CV. You have time to gain an understanding of a profession, company, sector or industry. Part-time work during term time is less likely to provide this, especially if it is in a retail, bar or catering environment, serving the public. Working on a full-time basis, even in a temporary capacity, shows that you can organise yourself in a regular working environment.
Working in a summer job does not mean wasting or losing your summer freedom. Several weeks of hard work can be rewarded by a holiday at the end, before returning to your studies at the start of term.
What Jobs Are There?
The dream summer job would be working in the holiday industry, situated in a tourist location where you can enjoy the pleasures of sun, sea and sand during your time off – or whatever environment would suit you most.
Work in European resorts is available, but is hotly competed for. European citizens have an advantage over non-EU citizens, due to employment laws. Also bear in mind that the tourism season begins in April or May, so many of the desirable jobs such as tour guides and couriers will have been allocated before you are available. You are also unlikely to secure prime customer-facing positions without a face-to-face interview, so if you live a long distance from any of the employers, then gaining these jobs is going to be difficult.
However, the peak season coincides with university vacations, so you can still find jobs in less interesting roles. Sales employees are the customers’ first point of contact and are involved in talking to tourists, distributing brochures and selling tours. Ski resorts become beautiful summer alpine resorts and still fill staff positions via the agencies who supply ski seasonal staff.
The upside of working overseas is meeting people from a wide variety of backgrounds and being well-positioned to do your own travelling before or at the end of the season. The downside is that you have to pay to get yourself there, meaning you may be adding to debts before you start earning.
The advantage of working in home tourism is that you are already there. You can maintain your social contacts and pursue your own interests while working during the day. Jobs are a lot easier to gain because you can easily meet the employers face to face. There may also be opportunities during the season if other people leave jobs early.
Theme parks are major seasonal employers, requiring everyone from actors to wear costumes and bring scenes to life, to catering staff and people to empty bins. Bar, catering and retail jobs in tourist zones abound, as do hotel positions. Tour guide positions are also available, along with information bureau staff. Yet employment need not be in resorts – many outlets in areas frequented by summer visitors will need extra employees during the summer.
Farming and Fruit Picking
There are still jobs to be found working on farms, both in your own country and abroad. Numerous schemes exist to match summer workers up with farms in Europe, Australia and elsewhere. However, projects such as the increasingly well-known and highly popular WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) mean that a decreasing number of these positions are now paid, being open instead to volunteers who accept bed and board in return for (frequently manual) labour.
Many recruitment agencies specialise in temporary positions, including seasonal work over the summer. The holiday season creates many staffing needs for big employers, as employees with families take their annual vacation during the school holidays. Offices in your area may be understaffed and needing administrative support. The more skills you can offer that are relevant to the workplace, the higher your chances of gaining steady employment. The upside is that the agency will find you work, while downside is that they will be taking a cut of the wage, assuming that they can find you consistent work anyway.
Nobody would claim that working in a telesales or customer service centre is either glamorous or hugely mind broadening, but if you need to generate some funds very quickly, this is a good way to do so. If you have a good telephone manner and an instinct for customer service, this is the kind of work you can fall back on over and over when times are tough. You will be trained and your performance will be closely monitored. This means that jobs are frequently available, because staff turnover is high. Hours can be variable, with many centres open 24 hours per day, which is positive or negative depending on how you wish to organise your working hours. Night work can have far higher pay rates, so can be a very efficient way to pay off debts and pay for a holiday into the bargain.
If you enjoy working with people, then working in a shop is a good way to earn steady, regular income. You will know your hours in advance and can plan your social life accordingly. As with all workplaces, shop staff take their own holidays in summer, so there is always a need for additional manpower, particularly in retail parks and shopping villages. Many stores now have extended hours and after-hours jobs are always available in supermarkets, restocking the shelves. Many students return to the same retailer vacation after vacation, sometimes having worked there part-time in the past, building a long term relationship that offers security through employment every summer.
Again, factory work may not be a favourite, but if work is available in your area then this is an option. Pay and hours are variable and the work is usually skilled, so always check the terms carefully in advance, as you may not be left with much after taxation (even if you can claim tax back at a later date).
With so many families going on holiday in the school holidays, airports are invariably at their busiest. There are numerous summer jobs available, from working the kiosks and concession stands, to serving food and drink, and working in shops. What is available usually depends on the size of airport nearest to you. Hours can be shift-based, as airport facilities are usually open for longer hours than regular shopping areas. Transport to work is often an issue, but some airports provide staff buses.
If you specialise in a particular sport and hold an instructor’s qualification, you can take advantage of the higher level of interest shown in sports during summer months. However, demand is unlikely to be predictable, unless you have year round connections with a particular sports club and are able to maintain customer relationships from vacation to vacation.
If you are prepared to gain a certificate or diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or similar, then a range of jobs at home and abroad will be opened up to you via specialist staff placement agencies.
Summer camps for children are more widely found in the USA and Canada, but are also becoming more popular in Europe. Those with particular sporting interests and/or a commitment to a career in teaching are more likely to find work as camp counsellors. Employment lasts for nine weeks over the summer period. To gain work, you must be able to show experience of working with children and provide excellent references to back this up. You will receive pocket money rather than a wage for your input, while you will have to pay fees in advance in order to get there.
In the US, particularly, some jobs are made available on campus for college students. These work study programs may run either through the semester, in the summer vacation, or both. The roles may relate to the area of study. The jobs can be sourced through the Human Resources department or via faculty offices. There are also some paid summer internships, which may enable you to earn credit towards your degree.
How do I Find Summer Work?
The internet is the best means to locating jobs overseas. Even if you locate an employer located in your country or region and need to visit them personally, you are most likely to learn about them via one of the many websites dedicated to temporary jobs overseas. Conduct searches based on the kind of work you want to secure and the location. Some of the more general sites are listed in the following section.
If you are staying near your large university or college, there may be summer jobs and internships fairs to attend. The careers office will be able to tell you about these. If attending, research the organisations that will be present in advance, so that you can prepare your answers for questions, just as in an interview. Also ensure your CV / resume is up to date and that you have copies to hand out.
Always remember that the best jobs for students can be highly competed for, so you need to produce a good application if you are to get a look in. The earlier you submit an application the better, especially if the position relates to your studies and can provide you with solid experience when you come to make applications after you graduate.