Thinking outside the box for summer jobs

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Joe Kaiser
Contributing Writer

As the semester comes to a close, many if not all of you are no doubt thinking about summer. All things summery – sunburns, barbeques, chilling with your people poolside, fireworks – immediately come to mind.

Some of us, however, are thinking about another aspect of summer – the summer job.  Perhaps you have already found employment for the vernal months; if so, you can stop reading now.  For those who live in the moment and have just realized they should seek employment, this article is for you.

The first matter of business is to decide what kind of job you want. Ideally, you would probably choose an internship related to your major that pays $15-$20 an hour. But let’s be realistic, so scratch that option.  It’s mid-April after all, and most of those gigs are long gone.  That leaves you two metaphorical doors from which to choose.

One option is an unpaid internship.  These usually offer the most hands-on experience and interesting projects.  Some people also point out that such internships are a great opportunity to start networking for a career after college.

But let’s be honest, such an unpaid option is not so wise – or useful – as long as it includes that “unpaid” part. As a disciple of the “if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense” philosophy, I adhere to the doctrine that summer jobs exist solely to pad your pockets for next semester.

Padding your pockets is the second option.  After all, the amount of fun you have during the school year will be directly proportional to the amount of capital you accumulate.   So you’re left with the question: Which job will be the most lucrative?

One great option is waiting tables.  Some of my “wealthiest” friends have earned their money waiting tables. If you can do this, by all means go for it – but you’re banking on your ability to score those nice tips, the bulk of your paycheck. Waiting, after all, is apparently not for everyone. For those who lack patience (myself included, according to my aforementioned friends), it seems we are left to our own machinations.

Since summer jobs from the realist’s perspective are about money, the summer job par excellence involves cash, that stuff we used to carry in our wallets back in the day.  Usually temporary, these cash jobs are often the most lucrative – and hassle-free. Remember those entrepreneurial experiments in the lemonade market? Did you have to fill out 1040s or W-2s? If you did, you ought to continue, since you probably have a knack for tart-beverage sales.

So don’t spend the first few weeks of your summer looking for a job that may not materialize.  Make money – or better yet, cash – on your own initiative.  Kindle that do-it-yourself attitude that is critical to American individualism. Start mowing your neighbor’s lawns. Babysit for the young couple down the street. Be a promoter for a local business. Start the new Facebook. In a word, get creative!  We’re all UD’ers.  So use your critical thinking skills to think outside the box this May and earn the means for next semester’s amusement.

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