The summer job is a rite of passage for college students who use this opportunity to gain valuable experience in the work world while also boosting their resumes and earning a little extra cash.
While common stereotypes suggest that college jobs are, by nature, mundane, they don't have to be. Many positions involve working with kids or animals. Some even allow you to spend the majority of your time in the great outdoors. As you start applying for summer jobs, keep the following outdoorsy opportunities in mind.
1. Summer Camp
If you love working with children and are thinking of eventually pursuing a job in education, your best bet for finding outdoor employment in the summer may involve an overnight camp where you can serve as a counselor or activity instructor. Depending on the camp in question, you may work closely with elementary school students, preteens, or teenagers. No two days will look exactly alike, making this job perfect for anyone on the hunt for dynamic, exciting work.
While many locations provide the classic summer camp experience complete with campfires and swimming in the lake, specialty camps are increasingly common. These may allow you to work with kids who are passionate about everything from basketball to theater and even coding. Working as a summer camp counselor can be especially ideal in that Christian facilities allow you to exercise and grow your faith as you also share it with others.
Campground jobs provide much of the same outdoorsy allure as summer camp, but with a greater emphasis on cleanup and safety. Your efforts as a summer employee help keep campgrounds running smoothly so that vacationers can unplug and unwind. Your tasks will vary somewhat based on the type of campground you serve. For example, work at a private location primarily dedicated to RVs will look a lot different than a typical day at a state or national park camping facility.
As a campground host, you could live rent-free in a tent or RV, dedicating your days to interacting with guests and ensuring that the campground is as inviting as possible. Some campgrounds also offer positions that involve activities such as guided trips or facilitating rentals.
From day camps to outdoor fitness instruction, the YMCA provides a wealth of opportunities for rewarding summer work. These jobs are enjoyable in and of themselves, but much of the appeal comes from supporting a highly respected organization that promotes youth development and healthy living. What's more, the sheer number of YMCA locations makes it possible to transition from summer jobs near home to work near your college town when the fall semester returns.
4. Golf Course
An upscale experience awaits when you take on the golf course environment. Here, you will have the opportunity to enjoy gazing at the beautifully manicured greens nearly every day. If you have an eye for detail, you could be placed in charge of golf course maintenance, which may involve lawn care or gardening. Many college students find lucrative work as caddies, responsible not only for transporting clubs, but also for determining yardage, locating balls, and replacing divots when necessary. Many proud caddies regard their job as the ultimate networking opportunity, as it can provide exposure to a variety of interesting and influential professionals.
5. Garden Center
Make the most of your green thumb at a local garden center. This may involve a combination of outdoor and greenhouse-based work. Depending on the scope of your job, you may need to care for plants or interact with customers. Some garden centers are situated within or adjacent to big box or department stores, while others involve pop-up locations or permanent facilities managed by small businesses.
What could be more refreshing than working at a pool? As a swim instructor, you could spend your days in the water interacting with children as they learn an essential skill. Otherwise, your work at the pool will likely involve lifeguarding. To land this job, you need to pass a strenuous swim test and also demonstrate a clear understanding of CPR and basic first aid.
Like pools, local lakes often provide a wealth of lifeguard and swim instructor jobs. This is only the beginning, however, as employment opportunities often extend beyond lifeguarding to include equipment rentals, snack stand operation, and even beach management. Regardless of your job, you'll love the view of the lake and the pleasant atmosphere you find there.
8. Theme Park
If you love roller coasters, carousels, and costumed characters, you could be the perfect candidate for working in a theme park where you get to witness the ultimate in excitement every day. A wide array of theme park jobs allows you to spend time outdoors, including the following favorites:
- Ride operator or technician
- Admissions attendant
- Concessions staff
- Cleanup crew
- Costume character or entertainer
While the pay for these jobs is not always impressive, there's a lot to be said for the perks: free admission, complimentary tickets for loved ones, and significant discounts on food and souvenirs.
9. Outdoor Adventure Park
From ziplining to ATV rides, outdoor adventure parks provide a range of thrilling experiences—often in serene environments bursting with natural beauty. As a guide or instructor, you will be responsible for interacting with a variety of guests. Some will be natural thrill-seekers, while others may require a little encouragement. All need to be outfitted with the proper equipment and instructed on best practices for remaining safe.
10. Water Park
As a hybrid of pool and theme park jobs, your position at a water park may require many of the same skills expected of pool-based lifeguards but adapted based on the unique risks and challenges that water slides, lazy rivers, or wave pools present. You will be responsible for keeping guests safe while also maintaining a pleasant appearance and atmosphere throughout the park. As with theme park positions, your work at a water park could deliver fun perks such as free tickets or merchandise discounts.
As a summer farm worker, you can do your part to help the community stay fed and healthy while also learning a great deal about agriculture and ecology. Your work could involve feeding and caring for animals, irrigating crops, or harvesting produce. This is an amazing position if you want to consistently work a 40-hour week—while many summer jobs operate on a part-time basis, farms are always in need of people to work extra hours. You'll come away with a wealth of experience and a greater appreciation for all that goes into maintaining the food supply chain.
12. Farm Stand or Farmer's Market
If you like the idea of promoting small-scale agriculture but are unable to commit to the long hours or physical nature of a farm job, consider working at a farm stand or farmer's market instead. There, you can sell fresh produce and a variety of other items to people who are enthusiastic about the local food movement. This is sometimes a separate job but also occasionally falls within the scope of duties for a farm laborer's work.
The right summer job will allow you to soak in the sun as you take in the beauty of the great outdoors. Don't waste this opportunity to gain valuable experience as you spend time in a wonderful outdoor work environment.