Your summer job doesn't have to be grueling and thankless. (Illustration via Jaila Desper, The University of Maryland)
Your summer job doesn't have to be grueling and thankless. (Illustration via Jaila Desper, University of Maryland)

Spring is upon us, and for students, that means it’s the time to look for summer jobs. While fast food and retail chains are easy and popular options, they usually don’t pay well and shifts can be grueling, thankless work.

While gritting your teeth and sticking it out as a cashier or fry cook for the summer is a viable option or backup plan, it shouldn’t be your only choice if you don’t want it to be. So, if food service and retail are at the bottom of your summer job list and you want to keep them there, here are some other options for you to consider.

1. Outdoor Work

If nature is your thing (and you want to work on your tan while getting paid), then outdoor work might be the best option for you, and there are plenty of possibilities. Do a quick Google search and see if any orchards, national parks, greenhouses, farms or conservatories are nearby, as they’re usually hiring.

If you live in an urban or suburban area, check with your municipality and see if they have any jobs caring for the local park.

2. Nannying

This job (which is for both men and women, by the way) requires a different kind of customer service.

If you’re patient, flexible, dedicated and you love kids, then you’d probably enjoy what can also be considered intense babysitting. All you need is some babysitting experience, solid references and background checks, and you’re all set. With school letting out, more families will be looking for help with childcare, so summer is the perfect time to look for nannying jobs — plus, it usually pays really well.

If you don’t know any families who you could offer your services to, then create a profile on websites like Care and Nanny Lane.

3. Summer Camps

Of all the options on this list, summer camps are the most likely to hire you. Positions range from the typical camp counselor and lifeguard to custodial and secretarial work. Additionally, it usually offers housing and food, making working at a summer camp a great option if you don’t want to be home for the whole summer. These jobs can either last the whole summer or only half of it.

There are fantastic camps all across the country, but a few of the distinguished summer camps are Camp Chief Ouray in Colorado, River Way Ranch Camp in California and Camp Waziyatah in Maine.

4. Gold Courses

This, like nannying, has the potential to pay really well for minimal effort. While there are varying opportunities for summer jobs, the most popular is caddying. The New York Times says that teenage caddies make an average of $120 for carrying two bags for 18 holes.

It may be difficult, hot work, standing in the sun for hours and potentially dealing with grumpy old people, but the pay is fabulous.

5. Theaters

As romanticized as this may be, working at a movie theater is a fantastic summer job. It is minimum wage, but it’s low maintenance, easy work and you get to watch movies for free (most do one free movie per shift). Plus, it’s air conditioned, which will be a nice relief from the summer heat.

If you prefer plays, symphonies or musicals, then you should consider working as an usher for a fine arts theater.

6. Museums

If you’re interested in history and the idea of working in a theater isn’t appealing to you, think about working for a museum. You’ll spend your summer in a quiet, air-conditioned space, learning enough fun facts to make you either super cool or super boring at parties.

Seriously, though, who wouldn’t want to get paid to participate in and facilitate experiences that people pay for and take field trips to see? This is a perk that most summer jobs don’t have, let me tell you.

Even if you don’t live near a big city, local museums are also an option.

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