How to Get a Great Summer Job

When you're looking for a summer job, it's a good idea to start your job search early. The earlier you start applying for summer jobs, the more choices you'll have and the more likely you'll be to find a job that's a great match for what you want to do this summer.

Here's how to search for and apply for summer jobs, along with the information you will need to apply, job search tips, and advice on where to look to find a terrific summer job.

Check on Working Papers

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If you are younger than 18, in some states, you may need to obtain working papers in order to legally be able to work. Get them now, so you will be able to start work as soon as you get the job.

The best place to find out if you need working papers is your school guidance office. If you need working papers, the counselors can give you the form you will need to complete or tell you where to get it.

Get Your References Ready

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Before you start applying for summer jobs, get a list of three references ready to give to interviewers. If you haven't worked before, neighbors and acquaintances may be willing to write a personal reference for you.

Teachers, professors or academic advisors, volunteer leaders, coaches, can also provide a personal reference. Baby-sitting and volunteer references are fine if you haven't worked before.

Do be sure to ask your reference giver, ahead of time, if you can use them as a reference.

Write a Resume and Cover Letter

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For many summer jobs, especially those in retail and hospitality, you may not need a resume. You'll be able to complete a job application to apply. For others, you'll need to write a resume and cover letter as part of the application process. Review these examples and tips for writing summer job resumes and cover letters to get started.

Decide What Type of Summer Job You Want

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Before you apply for a summer job, it's a good idea to take some time to decide what you want to do. Not only will you end up with a summer job that you enjoy; you'll also save time job searching because you can target your search to focus on the jobs that are a good match for your interests.

Are you interested in working with children? Take a look at camp counselor positions or summer tutoring programs. How about working on the beach, at a park, in the mountains, or at another outdoor job? There are many seasonal positions available at resorts and amusement parks.

Consider interning at a museum, at a zoo, or at some other organization related to your career aspirations. There are lots of options for summer jobs, so the first step is to decide what type of summer job you want.

Get Help With a Summer Job Search

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If you're a high school or college student, check with your high school Guidance Office or college Career Services Office and ask how they can assist with your job search.

Check out Summer Youth Employment Programs

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Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEPs) provide work experience for young people. These are typically city, state, or nonprofit summer programs that run between June and August. Participants are matched with entry-level summer jobs at local organizations, and provided with work experience and career advice.

In many locations, you can find and apply for positions in your local area online.

Networking to Find Summer Jobs

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Networking really does work when you're looking for summer jobs and it's not hard to do. Talk to teachers, family, former employers, coaches, friends, parents of friends - anyone and everyone you can think of - and ask if they can help you with your summer job search.

Networking is still the best way to find a job and most people are glad to provide advice, assistance and job leads.

Search for Summer Jobs Online

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There are a variety of sites that list summer job openings. Search the job boards that focus on summer jobs and summer camp jobs first. Then search the job sites and use the job search engines by searching for "summer jobs" as a keyword, along with your location.

Also, check the local sites - local job boards and the online help wanted ads for your newspaper. Many employers who hire for summer jobs only advertise locally.

Apply Online for Summer Jobs

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In many cases, you'll be able to apply for jobs online. Depending on the job and the organization you are applying to, you may need a resume, and possibly a cover letter, or you may simply have to fill out an online job application.

For some organizations, you may need to apply directly online via an applicant tracking system. In other cases, you'll be asked to email your resume and cover letter to apply for the summer job.

Either way, it's important to follow the instructions when applying for jobs online or via email. You may need to fill out a profile, upload or email your resume and cover letter, and take an employment test, as part of the online application process.

Apply In Person for Summer Jobs

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Are you interested in a summer job at a local amusement park, beach or park, or at a retail store in town or at the mall? One of the best ways to find this type of summer job is by applying in person. So, plan on spending some time visiting potential job sites and filling out job applications.

Applying for a part-time or summer, non-professional job as a teen is a little different from applying for a full-time professional position. They should dress neat and tidy for interviews. Business casual is usually appropriate. For example, khakis and a neat tucked in polo shirt would work well. Your shoes should be moderate and you should avoid extreme hairstyles or colors.

Make sure you dress appropriately, are ready to complete an application, and are prepared for an on-the-spot interview.