College is full of a lot of things; classes, parties, exams, new friends, figuring out what you’re going to do with your life, career fairs, internships, wearing your swimsuit when all of your underwear has been worn and you just don’t have time to make it to the laundromat… But one thing that people rarely talk about is getting away for the summer. I’m not talking about backpacking around Europe, although with the tips and resources in this blog post, you can probably make that happen (as a graduation present to yourself). I’m talking about that perfect summer job; one that takes you far away from home and your college town, takes you some place new and exciting, earns you money, and maybe even earns you college credit.
Camp Counseling and other low-paying gigs
There are a lot of reasons to become a camp counselor! If you want to work at the place that was magical for you as a kid, or if you’re majoring in recreation and this is your way to earn college credit and gain valuable experience. If so, then go for it. The YMCA has camps all over America from San Diego Surf Camp to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. You can find a lot of different jobs through the YMCA or any of these camp job site boards. You can become a camp counselor in just about anything… even 4-H is breaking into STEM education.
The drawback: These are typically low paying jobs. You are required to work 7 days a week most of the time, with an evening off during the week and 24 hours off from Saturday check-out to Sunday check-in. Some camps have great support systems, but some don’t. You can make a lot of friends, but you can also end up stressed out, burnt out, sick (kids, y’all) and not much richer. BUNAC is another organization geared toward college students that offers often low-paying jobs, travel NOT included. Yes, you can work abroad, but you might not make much money.
National Parks and Destination Resorts
You might already know this, but most National Parks hire seasonal employees for the summer (and in some cases, for the winter). Xanterra is the largest National Park concessionaire and employs most of the workers at places like Yosemite, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon. However, some of the resorts within the National Parks are privately owned, like Panamint Springs in Death Valley National Park, or are run by another concessionaire, Forever Resorts. These are well-organized resorts with tons of different jobs, though they often focus on hospitality positions. If you’re majoring in any hospitality field, sometimes you can earn college credit for working at a National Park during the summer. You can also gain valuable experience through this, and there is little better than waking up to an amazing view in the middle of Yellowstone National Park.
The drawback: These jobs can be competitive, the rules can be strict, and the uniforms aren’t the most attractive. You’ll most likely start in a low wage, but you can earn more through working more hours and by returning each summer.
Great Lakes and Great Resources
The largest amusement park in the world rests on a tiny spit of land out on Lake Erie and employs thousands of college students per year. They pay a lower wage but offer lots of hours and a bonus program for finishing out your summer. Cedar Point is a large enough organization that they have their own utilities and cash control department. This means that unlikely majors like marketing or accounting can find a job relevant to their major and possibly earn college credit. Of course, you could ditch responsibility and operate roller coasters all summer long! Just down the lake from this little amusement park is a collection of islands full of various and sundry jobs, mostly food related. These jobs pay varying wages and the tipped gigs are the ones bound to fill your pockets with all that extra cash.
The drawback: Maybe being stuck on an island isn’t your thing, but maybe it is. You won’t know until you try it. Also, most of these jobs require working six days a week. This can be grueling for some, but it definitely adds up!
Any of these jobs can give you an amazing summer experience. If you choose wisely, you could land in some really cool place with amazing views and new experiences. You can make friends, earn some cash, and maybe even gain college credits. If any of the above don’t sound like exactly the perfect fit, then I leave you with my last, magical resource: Coolworks.com. Coolworks is full of jobs from summer and winter seasonal to full-time and volunteer opportunities. Guaranteed, there is something here for anyone.