Decide What You Want to Do
Next, consider what you would like to do. Are you interested in working with kids? Take a look at camp counselor positions. How about working on the beach, at a park, in the mountains, or at another outdoor job? Intern at a museum, at a zoo, or at some other organization related to your career aspirations. An internship is great way to test the waters in a variety of career fields and to gain "real-life" experience. Consider a temp agency if you would like exposure to several different businesses in a specific location.
Use Your School
If you're a student, check with your high school Guidance Office or college Career Services Office and ask how they can assist with your job search. Consider internship opportunities as well as summer job listings. An internship is an ideal opportunity to gain experience in a particular career field. Internships also supplement academic classes and, in some cases, earn college credit.
Speak with teachers, family, former employers, coaches, friends, parents of friends - anyone and everyone you can think of - and ask for contacts in your geographic and/or career fields of interest. Meet with (or call) these individuals for information about careers and advice about conducting your summer job/internship search. Read our guide to Informational Interviews for how to get started.
Telephone or visit employers in your geographic and/or career areas of interest and inquire about summer jobs/internships. Be prepared to give a 15 second promo regarding your skills, strengths, and motivation for working with them. Most summer jobs are acquired by using this technique. If you write to employers, follow up with a phone call whenever possible to arrange in-person or telephone interviews.
Check the local newspaper help wanted ads and local jobs web sites for your community. Search the jobs databases which focus on summer jobs, summer camp jobs, and internships. Also search the entry-level and top jobs databases using "summer" as a search term.
Start Your Own Business
Start your own business and demonstrate your entrepreneurial spirit to future employers. Consider your own skills and interests as well as the needs of the local economy where you will be spending your summer. Possible ventures include hand lettering house numbers, selling ice cream, lawn mowing, house painting, designing and marketing T-shirts, caring for pets while people are on vacation, car detailing, etc.
Don't feel too badly if you don't find the job of the dreams. In most cases, you will find a job and, at the very least, you'll have a paycheck and work experience which can only help in the future. I spent several summers working in a grocery store and I learned much more than how to ring a cash register. I gained communication skills, a little business management experience, and learned how to work with money.