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Sweet summer jobs for travel-loving students

If it hasn’t already crossed your mind, finding a stellar summer job is something you should probably start thinking about. The eternal question, of course, is how to reconcile the idea of summer as a time for fun with the reality of flipping burgers to make ends meet.

So how does one score the summer dream job, one that both pays and is enjoyable?

Cool Works is a good place to start, even if it’s just to peruse for ideas. The site offers listings for jobs in U.S. National Parks, at resorts, at summer camps, and elsewhere. Here’s a sampling of current openings:

  • The Grand Canyon North Rim National Park Lodge is looking for seasonal help in many areas pertaining to the resort.
  • The Sportsman’s Cove Lodge in Alaska needs to hire seasonal help in several areas, including the gift shop and hospitality.
  • You can spend your summer in your bathing suit, renting jet-skis and Hoby Cats in Kitty Hawk.

In addition to Cool Works, there are a few other employment websites geared toward students. They include A+ Summer Jobs, which focuses on general summer employment opportunities; for summer employment options with the U.S. federal government (note that some deadlines for summer internships may have already passed); and JoltCamps, which compiles an impressive list of summer camp openings nationwide.

Another, albeit unpaid, option for the summer is to volunteer. Volunteer service is not only a great resume booster (you’re hearing this straight from the horse’s mouth; I’m a returned Peace Corps volunteer and, yes, I now have a real job) but it’s also good for you. You don’t even have to “rough it” in order for the experience to be worthwhile. Arguably the only downside to volunteering is that you often end up footing part of the bill. Don’t let that discourage you. Many colleges and universities offer scholarships for students completing unpaid summer work. Inquire in your career services office.

The requisite student travel service websites, such as StudentUniverse, are a good place to start your search for volunteer work. StudentUniverse is currently advertising short-term volunteer positions with Language Link in St. Petersburg and Moscow, doing everything from teaching English to IT support (in return, you’ll get six hours of free Russian lessons per week). Among a multitude of others, there’s an opportunity to work at an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya.

Another place to look is Cross-Cultural Solutions, a reputable company for arranging volunteer work (and internships) abroad. is another resource, both for domestic and international volunteer opportunities. You can even sign up for Idealist’s mailing list and have volunteer projects sent to you as they become available. The most recent email I received included things like short-term teaching projects in Nepal (from two weeks up to five months). Imagine that: a summer of teaching surrounded by some of the best mountains in the world.

The message here? Your summer “employment” opportunities are limitless. If your inclination is to travel and see the world, or even a different part of your state, there’s no reason not to do it. You might even come home with a little extra money in your pocket, not to mention an unforgettable experience worlds apart from flipping burgers.

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