Photo by Salt Water New England

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Best Summer Jobs?

Photo by Salt Water New England
A question for the community:

I was asked by a colleague at work if I had any recommendations for summer jobs for people today.  She has two children, one about to enter college and another who is still at boarding school.  I realize that I don't really know what is out there today, and thought my fellow readers might be able to share their experiences.  
 

 

48 comments:

  1. Day Camp Counselor. My sons both held these jobs during their prep school years. Their most enduring and endearing contribution was teaching the 6 year olds to pay 'Rock', the gist of which was to be very still and very quiet for as long as possible with the longest holdout getting a dollar. During the game, my sons would call their girlfriends, eat something, get a Coke and generally relax. Longest single game was 29 minutes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Coaching sailing is probably the best but you have to have experience and take an instructor course. Similar situation with being a launch driver.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I caddied when in grade school to earn money for a bike, then a year later rode it to Maine from Massachusetts to teach sailing. I kept on with that during boarding school and a few college summers. USSailing has online courses to qualify for entry level sailing instructor jobs and a number of regularly updated social media portals. https://www.ussailing.org/education/instructor/small-boat-instructor-programs/level-1-instructor/ The best job, or at least most enjoyable, was taking care of a wealthy family's fleet of boats in 1972, teaching their young children to row, swim and sail... and dating their seventeen year old 'au pair girl'. (She'd been their babysitter on Beacon Hill for three years by that summer.) In midsummer the parents left us to take care of the children for six weeks while they sailed in the Transatlantic Race to Spain and cruise to Portugal. That experience taught the girl and I that we'd be good parents and spouses. I'm still in touch with her although we each married others.

      Delete
  3. Physical solid labor...outside work. Cut grass, worked on ranches, worked for mechanical contractor installing AC & Heating in buildings worked as a roustabout offshore for Shell & Global Marine, drove tucks for Halliburton Oil Well Cementing. Needless to say, you were considered a sissy if you worked in air conditioning. Bosses were old school WWII & Korean vets, they did not take
    any prisoners. Finest education I have received. Consequently, have spent over
    47 years currently managing drilling operations in the oilfield. No, my old man did not help me, which provided me the drive & initiative to succeed. Carharrt is the coin of the realm on a drilling rig, not a Barbour Bedale. Learned from roughnecks to use beeswax on leather rather than Mink Oil or Lexoil. Without question, manual labor builds character. I plead guilty to being an eccentric relic. Enuff said.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree about solid labor...outside work. Worked summers hauling hay bales, working in a Sears Roebuck warehouse (back when Sears was a major retailer) and working as an apprentice carpenter. The experience taught me, among other lessons, that I needed to go to college and eventually law school, to avoid spending the rest of my life in such endeavors. Not to be disrepectful to those engaged in such endeavors - they are simply very diffult ways to earn a living.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm sure they're wonderful kids but if they are boarding school students or graduates I think a job requiring either physical labor or waiting on other people is desirable. My twin cousins spent summers in a beautiful family home on the Cape but as atonement worked 8-hour days ankle deep in blood and guts at the fish market.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree. Something that builds empathy. Plenty of time for NY Times or IBM internships later.

      Delete
    2. Agree totally.

      Delete
    3. Meant to add: the point of summer jobs, especially for upper-middle class kids, is NOT to use it as a stepping stone to a career. You need to get outside that bubble and deal with ordinary people for at least a few years.

      Delete
    4. Completely agree. Our kids have all had "outside" jobs during the summers. Everything from dog walking to landscaping to gardening for the neighbors. In addition, they are required to help maintain the summer pile; including roofing, plumbing, boat and other toy hauling, mowing grass, hauling wood and maintaining the surrounding acreage. We only paid them once for property maintenance, and it was to demolish an old building on the property. You can't help being born into a type of privilege but you *must* step outside that bubble before launching into your adult life. There's nothing worse than a spoiled brat who becomes a spoiled adult.

      Delete
  6. The only summer job I ever had beyond mowing lawns was working on a tobacco farm near Amherst, Mass., in 1964. That was shade-grown tobacco. At the time, they employed chiefly high school students, both male and female. I expect migrant workers are employed now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My first job was working for a small family grocer selling local produce. Some days were in the store itself, others were in the shortcake stand making fresh fruit milkshakes, shortcakes, and sundaes for customers. Also worked in the office of a family friend's lumber yard which has served me in my career as an Interior Designer. When I was 19 I worked as a girl's counselor for an overnight summer camp. I have also worked in my school's marketing office as well as for a "customer service" oriented department store.

    All these built up skills for interacting with customers/colleagues/contractors/clients (is there an acronym for this?), in doing the best job to my ability, of taking responsibility when I've caused things to go awry, and to not judge others' wallets by the contents of my own. I absolutely encourage a job in some part of the retail sector. One finds an odd cross section life; one minute a customer is able to joke around and enjoy their day, the next they're wanting to speak with the manager because their waistline has grown and they're angry that the altered pants haven't magically reflected that. - hrplo

    ReplyDelete
  8. My summer jobs were many and varied. My favorite, my first, was working for an interior designer in her workshop in NYC, stripping, painting, gold leafing, and applying decoupage, chiefly from old issues of American Heritage, to reclaimed wooden cigar boxes, selling the finish products to Bonwits'. After a morning of getting high on fumes we would spend afternoons on the beach out near Port Washington. I worked as a gardener and a lifeguard during high school summers and as a diving instructor and lifeguard during college summers. Before entering the workforce, clerking in a big law firm can be great. They seem to find very interesting work for their clerks and feed them as if they were geese being made ready for foie gras in a never ending series of over the top meals interspersed with baseball games and, if one of the partners owns a cool two ton, some racing. It hardly prepares one for the reality of returning as an associate. .

    ReplyDelete
  9. I worked the summers of my college years as a waiter in a waterfront restaurant that had both car and boat customers and made great money!!I

    ReplyDelete
  10. Working as a member of the Junior Staff at Sea Island, GA is a fantastic summer job for a young person!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Painting houses was the preferred summertime work for collegians. We would start early in the morning, finish early in the afternoon, then go for a swim. The money was very good and we were our own boss. During a rainy week we would turn up sooner or later at Peabody Museum.

    ReplyDelete
  12. 19 year old college sophomore is a YMCA day camp counselor at a Y that primarily serves inner city population.

    15 year old boarding school sophomore has it tougher because of FL child labor laws, but it looks like he can get a job bussing dishes, bagging groceries, or perhaps at a local golf course. We'll see.

    ReplyDelete
  13. For such privileged children, they should wait tables for at least a couple of months. It's good for children like that to understand how good they've had it. It won't take long.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Although my summer job was for high school students, the best summer job for a college student would be something to do with your major. A forestry student, for instance, would work on a wildfire crew or man a lookout tower. There are few lookout towers remaining, however. A job in a factory would be good, perhaps even eye-opening, for engineers. My father-in-law was an aeronautical engineer (pre-aerospace, he liked to say) who graduated from Virginia Tech. His summer job was at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. I don't know how many summers he worked there, because his entire class at VPI was drafted during the war. He served in the Army Air Forces "somewhere in England."

    ReplyDelete
  15. My favorite summer job by far was working as a yardbird at a marina: launching and hauling yachts, painting bottoms, cleaning decks, towing boats from the coast to Lake Winnipesaukee and vice versa. One day I trailered an inboard/outboard without raising the drive. The skeg carved a beautiful crescent shaped canyon all the way across the boat yard. Rookie mistake.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My most lucrative summer jobs were in construction; most fun was guiding hiking, canoeing, cycling trips in/around the Adirondacks.

    Childrens' best summer jobs were paid internships. Great professional experience, can lead to post-college employment, more interesting than lifeguarding or working with canoes/kayaks on a riverside dock.

    ReplyDelete
  17. My father once knew a man who owned a pretzel factory, and so one summer I had a keep-the-kid-occupied job making pretzels. Millions of pretzels. All you could eat free.

    Since pretzels are simple, there were only three major jobs involved: “Loaders” (people who stood on raised platforms with big butcher knives, and hacked off chunks of dough which they stuffed into mechanical hampers that bent the dough into shape), “Salters” (workers who poured bags of salt into machines that sprinkled the pretzel shaped dough as it entered a long oven on a conveyor belt), and “Packers” (as the name implies these people boxed the finished product.) I was a Salter that long ago salty summer.

    I still remember how loud the place was, and how hot the big oven was, and how out-of-place I felt.

    It was indeed an education, and I have never eaten a pretzel since - don’t even like to look at them.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I spent my summers doing housekeeping, pool lifeguarding and maintenance at a seasonal hotel a short bike ride from where I grew up on Cape Cod. Between the tourists and the international coworkers, I met so many incredible people.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Check out the Student Conservation Association. Great way to see a new place, meet new friends, learn new skills, and work hard to protect the environment. GLH

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would add that Elizabeth Titus Putnam, founder of SCA, seems pretty SWNE. Check her out and see for yourself.

      Delete
  20. The entering college student should try to find an internship related to his or her major. Other great jobs are being a camp counselor or working in local businesses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes a graduating college senior may start out as an intern, just like doctors. For many, however, it's an unpaid position, especially in more competitive fields. But it will provide some real-life experiences that you don't get while you're in school. One thing you sometimes discover upon graduating is how little you actually learned.

      Delete
  21. I am sure it is very different now, but my old sleep-away summer camp -- Camp Conrad Weiser outside Warnersville, PA -- featured an international (and very prep/trad/ivy) cast of male conselors up until the early 80s when I stopped attending each year. Almost all, except for those in more senior admin. positions, were university aged guys from the ivy league or other private prep schools, colleges, and universities as well as Brits, Germans, Danes, Japanese, Australians, and Frenchmen. Amazingly for a YMCA camp, they actually reminded us about things like table manners at mealtimes and other important conduct in and among the various daily activities. It was a magical time and place that I suspect has changed. The past is another country as they say.

    Kind Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

    ReplyDelete
  22. If there is a golf club close by, being a caddy can be a terrific opportunity to meet many people and develop skills that will be used throughout one's life. In addition, The Evans Scholarship was designed for young men and women who work as caddies. https://wgacaddieacademy.org/the-evans-scholarship

    ReplyDelete
  23. Caddying can be an good source for some of life’s lessons. “Sports don’t build character, they reveal it.” That includes golf. Caddies are presented with opportunities to deal with all kinds of people, up close. We always carried “doubles.” Once a member of a foursome whose bag I carried, criticized a local radio personality who was with the foursome playing in front of us. The other golfer, whose bag I carried, sidled up to me and said quietly, “it’s easy to bad mouth someone who’s well known. Bud (the object of the criticism) is really a great guy.”

    ReplyDelete
  24. Working for a boatbuilder in Maine!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Although I had very little money as a teenager (parents' fortunes took a precipitous decline in the early '80s for health and recessionary reasons), I somehow never had real summer jobs. Mostly hung out in Central Park, played tennis, etc. I did work as a ballboy at the U.S. Open for four years, ages 16 through 19, which was a great experience but only a couple of weeks at minimum wage. I had an internship at a magazine throughout my senior year of high school, and that continued after graduation; then journalism-related internships of various sorts every summer in college.

    My wife was industrious in a more typical way. She grew up in Barnstable, Mass., and had jobs at a deli there and in the ticket office of a ferry company in Hyannis. Our kids have been somewhat in-between our two experiences. Our daughter spent her high-school years in London and Geneva and had no interest in the usual teenage job of her peers, babysitting for other expat families. So she never worked for pay until her current college years, during which she's completed an internship at a design consultancy and just landed an excellent one with a prominent New York gallery (she wants to work on the business side of the art world). Our son, now a senior in high school outside Boston, also never worked while we were overseas. But he and a friend started a landscaping business in our town and have had a fair bit of success with it, so he's had the experience of physical labor and earning his own money. He was going to enter a caddy program last summer, but it was canceled due to the pandemic.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Everyone should work retail for 2 months of their life: awful work at awful pay dealing with awful people. With lifetime benefits of patience, negotiation skills, irony, sangfroid and deprecation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your’s is an awful good idea.

      Delete
  27. My favorite summer job during college was selling draft beer and steamed crabs by the swimming pool at a Washington, DC, hotel. Met lots of interesting dignitaries visiting the Capitol (and got a good suntan).

    ReplyDelete
  28. Recent college grad here! I would say the jobs should be the most related to a college major or career interest the summer before senior year. Before then, they should take the two summers to work some, but also enjoy the relative lack of responsibility while it lasts. Some of my best times with the guys came from the college summers, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for any job better than what I had. The summer after my freshman year, I worked as a student assistant for my university’s international exchange program. The pay was good, the hours were flexible, and I genuinely enjoyed the work. I got to meet a lot of students from Spain, and helped them do shopping trips, drive them on excursions to the beach, NYC, DC, Philadelphia, and helped them make the most of their American experience overall. Those are friendships I have kept and maintained since then. I worked at a friend’s restaurant the summer after my sophomore year. I recommend every high schooler or college student work in the service industry at least once to gain some perspective. I personally wasn’t a fan, but definitely don’t regret doing it. I finished that summer by working with my university’s international program again, this time preparing for semester exchange students from Scotland, Spain, and Estonia. I met two of my best friends during that job, and we are now going to grad school together in the UK. The summer before senior year was compromised by the pandemic, but I managed to keep a remote archival research job I had started in-person during the semester of 2019. This is the summer for an internship or something else serious to put on a resume or grad school applications. I am pretty sure the archives job experience ended up helping me get a grad school fellowship. My summer in between graduation and grad school abroad was spent working for my alma mater’s admissions office. Housesitting and dog walking jobs paid just as well all four summers.

    ReplyDelete
  29. High school into college I worked in a grocery store, primarily unloading Tractor Trailers full of groceries on pallets, then Dairy and Frozen items.One summer , in college, was spent painting houses ( for a small business that specialized in Victorian and other 19th and early 20th century homes. I remember hating being 2 stories up on the ladder, scraping old paint ( likely layers of old lead paint) from decorative dental work under the eaves, yellow jackets buzzing faithfully around my head. As many above have said, manual work builds character and instills gratitude for the blessings one has.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Two summer jobs in high school: Working in a movie theater as usher and cashier. The latter was useful and to this day I automatically align and crimp bills so they nest neatly in a drawer.

    The other job ivolved working in a steel fabricating plant, standing at a forge, heating rivets for a gang of three or four guys making (large! strong!) bridge girders. (This involved using tongs to throw rivets of the precise orangey-red color 40 to 50 feet to the guy with the steel cone.)

    The best part of it was stepping away from the forge; however hot and humid that day, I felt immediately a lot cooler. I had sets of denim shirts and jeans that I rotated through the washer when I got home — they were always drenched in sweat — the same steel-toed shoes however were worn every day.

    Taught me three things: that manual labor was never to be despised, the guys on the gang (white and black) were really good people, and finally that I was not going to do this for the rest of my working life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed & very true. You made the gang's traveling squad.

      Delete
  31. As with retail, waiting tables is a lesson in patience, multi-tasking, organization and other soft skills.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The best summer job is no job at all: chances are one will spend the rest of one's life after college doing a totally unrewarding job and looking forward to retirement.

    Honest Abe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, it isn't that bad. I'd retired now but I wasn't looking forward to it. I finally retired when the privately owned company I was with was sold to another company in the same industry and after they laid off three-quarters of the employees. I was 71 and I had been there eighteen years.

      Over the decades, I had done the same kind of work in about the same size companies. I worked with a lot of good people, mostly, and I miss them all. Don't miss commuting.

      Delete
    2. Moreover summer jobs provide training in important life skills that no school will ever teach you.

      Delete
  33. Waited tables for year in high school and a couple years after. Mowed lawns for years and years probably started that in 6th grade.

    Most interesting... worked for one summer in my cousin's funeral home. Yup I did all that you can imagine in that job. Only reason I didn't stick it out and make a career of it was I didn't like the middle of the night pick up calls. On call 24/7. No thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Yes, fifth or sixth grade was when I started mowing lawns, shoveling snow (which was good money), and raking leaves in the neighborhood. I guess I was eleven when I took over a weekday afternoon and weekend morning newspaper route, 365 days a year. Caddying started at twelve. That was also good money. When I was fourteen I started bussing tables. Upshot - I never asked my parents for a nickel once I started all these “odd jobs.” “You should see how much he pays for his shoes,” I recall my father remarking at a family gathering. During high school, after hockey season, I took a “real job” at a grocery store. 29 hours a week I worked. How did I ever find time for homework? Half of college my parents paid, half I paid with a loan. And I covered all college “incidental expenditures” such as lift tickets and junior year roaming around Europe. All this 50+ years ago. Times have changed. Nobody hitchhikes anymore either. It was how we got around.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Groom at a riding stable, every day in the summmers and after school every day from April through November. Learned like a sponge from a man who grew up when horses were still everyday transportation, who'd forgotten more than the rest of us will ever know. 50 years later the place came into my hands and I'm still there, and the age now that he was then when I met him in 1973! I hope he's looking over my shoulder, and approves. It's a better world for horses now.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I had one of these idyllic summer jobs (sailing instructor) and while lovely it wasn’t remotely practical. Those last two summers of college need to be spent in internships or a job related to major. The world has changed since 1980 (and I probably straddled that change as a “geriatric millennial.”

    ReplyDelete
  37. If your location/skills allows - Mowing lawns, sailing instructor, farm hand, internship with local government, soccer referee, kids tennis coach. 4 days a week is plenty...

    ReplyDelete