How to Land Your Perfect Summer Job
You’ll head back to school in the fall with a few extra bucks in your pocket with these tips for finding a rewarding summer gig.
For some educators, the summer months are sacrosanct—a well-earned respite from the rigors of school—to be spent traveling, with family or simply recharging their batteries. But for those who want to earn extra cash or stay busy, summertime is work time.
If you’re considering picking up a summer gig, you’ll first need to decide what sort of job you want to do. Then you’ll have to go out and get it. Here are some educators’ favorite options with tips for landing the job.
Keep teaching. If the words “summer school” conjure up an image of a summer spent with reluctant Bart Simpson types, think again. Many summer school programs offer enrichment classes in high-interest topics like computer programming, so students are often eager and invested.
“The kids’ perception is, ‘Hey, we’re doing something fun at school,’” says Stacci Barganz, a Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, gifted coordinator and teacher who has taught summer school.
Barganz also teaches adults during the summers, leading professional development for other teachers, which helps expand her impact in addition to paying a few bills. “I see teachers’ eyes light up during a session, and I know that’s going to affect 150 kids,” she says.
Getting the gig: Summer school positions can be hard for administrators to fill, so sometimes all you have to do is ask. If you want to try your hand at educational consulting, first try leading professional development sessions at your school, and then expand to other school sites and conferences. Many teachers who do this sort of work also maintain a social media presence as a way of sharing ideas and staking their claim as educational thought leaders.
Work with children outside of the classroom. If summer school isn’t for you, but you still want your “kid fix,” consider nannying or tutoring. Kata Harvey, a young teacher in Baxter, Iowa with no children of her own, has done both. “If I didn’t nanny and tutor, I would go all summer without seeing kids at all,” she says. (Another bonus: During naptime, Harvey often pulls out her teaching binder and gets a jump on the next year’s lesson planning.)
Other child-centered opportunities include camp counseling or leading educational trips abroad.
Getting the gig: If you want to tutor, you can post fliers with tear-away tabs that include your email address and phone number at libraries and other places parents are likely to see them (including, possibly, at your school. Check with your administration first—some schools have rules against teachers tutoring their own students for money). For nannying, many people work through an agency or advertise their services on websites like Care.com.
Work seasonally. Jobs that only exist during the summer months are an ideal fit for teachers—at least the ones who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Kent Schubert, a fifth-grade math teacher in Shenandoah, Iowa, spends his summers mowing grass, changing holes and maintaining sand traps at a local golf course. The work, he says, is “therapeutic” and provides a balance with his teaching job.
“After working three months outside, mowing and doing chores, I’m ready to go back to school,” Schubert says. “Likewise, after nine months sitting inside, I’m ready to go back outside.”
Other teachers paint houses, landscape, lead farm crews or tend bar or wait tables in tourist areas.
Getting the gig: Armed with college degrees, teachers are plenty qualified for most seasonal jobs. To brainstorm possibilities, think about what sorts of summer employment the students in your area tend to pursue. (But consider commuting a few towns over, unless you want to spend the whole summer spreading mulch alongside the student from your recent algebra class!)
Turn a hobby into a business. Amanda Dykes, a technology coach and teacher in Jefferson County, Alabama, loves to bake cupcakes for children’s birthday parties. Her masterpieces include treats topped with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles peeking out from underneath Oreo “manhole covers,” hand-drawn and edible superhero logos, and even the trademark beards of the Boston Red Sox.
“It was something I could do that wasn’t obsessing about a teaching webinar that I had to get ready for,” Dykes says. “That’s why I picked it up, because it was totally different from what I did every day. It lets me be creative.”
Dykes brings in a few hundred dollars during the summer from her baking and decorating, enough to pay for her kids’ back-to-school clothes and supplies.
Other educators might try to earn cash from hobbies such as fixing bicycles or designing websites. Read more about educators’ hobby businesses.
Getting the gig: There’s no application to fill out here—you’re the boss. At first, though, you’ll probably rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals, so make sure your customers are happy!
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