When to Apply for Summer Jobs: A Guide for High Schoolers

High student wearing a red shirt working at a summer job
September 5, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 05/18/23

If you’re considering spending your summer building your resume and earning some money, read on to learn when to apply for summer jobs and the most popular jobs for high schoolers!

It’s a hot summer day, the sun is beating down on you and the air is full of children’s laughter as they play California kickball. You supervise them before blowing your whistle to signal lunchtime! The kids’ favorite—pizza day! You gather in the lunchroom with your colleagues and enjoy the hum of excitement that fills the room.

This is what you could be spending your summer doing as a camp counselor, a popular job for high school students. But, if spending your days in the heat isn’t your ideal job, there are plenty of others to choose from! 

In this guide, we’ll go over the most common jobs for high school students and an application timeline to follow to ensure you spend your summer making memories, boosting your college application, and making some money!

When to Apply for Summer Jobs

Knowing when to apply for summer jobs can be challenging. You want to ensure you apply early enough that your application is reviewed on time, and you have a job lined up for you as soon as the school year is over. While the exact timeline will depend on your job and its application deadline, here is a general guide to follow:

January to February

Spend these months researching the types of jobs that are available within your area and see which ones interest you the most. While there may not be job openings for you to apply to at this time, you can see what previous roles have asked for. Consider the requirements these positions ask for in case you need to acquire certifications. 

For instance, many camp counselor positions require candidates to be CPR certified. 

Early March

Once you’ve figured out the type of jobs you’re interested in applying to, create resumes for them. While you have to tailor these resumes to match the specific jobs you apply to, having this outline will make the application process much smoother!

Consider your skills, extracurriculars, volunteer positions, qualifications, and other experiences. Craft a one-page resume that highlights all of these components and begin seeking out references.

If you plan on applying to jobs in different industries, make a resume for each one showcasing your relevant skills and experiences.

Late March to April

Businesses will typically begin advertising for summer jobs in the early spring to ensure they have enough time to interview candidates, make decisions, and train their employees before summer begins. 

While the exact timing these job openings are posted depends on the industry, you should begin keeping an eye out on company websites and job platforms, such as Monster and Indeed, around March to April. 


Students should submit their applications in April to give employers adequate time to review their application and move forward with the hiring process. There may be several steps necessary to acquire a job, including submitting a cover letter, completing multiple interviews, assessments, and background checks. 

Be prepared to complete all of these steps in a timely manner! You should expect to hear back from the companies you applied to within a few weeks, unless otherwise directed. 

Late April – May

Hopefully, within a few weeks you’re invited to interview. Ensure you practice common interview questions beforehand and research all of the companies you’re interviewing with. Know what their mission is, their values, and the type of employee they’re looking for. 

Highlight qualifications and experiences that will make you stand out and prepare one or two insightful questions to ask your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the company. 

May – June 

Thoroughly read over any job offers you’re given and accept the one that best aligns with your interests and schedule! 

Enjoy your job and try to make a lasting impression! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try to form relationships with your mentors and colleagues to begin building your network! These connections will prove valuable during the rest of your high school and postsecondary career!

Popular Summer Jobs for High School Students

So far, we’ve answered the question, “when is the best time to apply for summer jobs?” Now that you have a basic summer job timeline to follow, you may be wondering what your options are! 

Here are five of the most common summer jobs for high school students:

Retail Sales Associate

Many stores and shops hire seasonal employees to help with the increased demand during the summer months. This job involves assisting customers with their purchases, restocking shelves, and maintaining store cleanliness.

Food Service Worker

Restaurants and fast-food chains often hire seasonal workers to help with the summer rush. These workers typically take orders, prepare food, and maintain the dining area.


Many swimming pools, beaches, and water parks hire lifeguards during the summer months. These positions are best for strong swimmers as you will be responsible for monitoring others, ensuring their safety, and responding to emergencies.

Camp Counselor

Summer camps for children and teenagers hire counselors to supervise and lead activities. Camp counselors are in charge of leading group activities, watching the children, and ensuring their safety and well-being.


When children are home during the summer months, parents often need babysitters to look after them. While the extent of your duties will vary depending on their age, you will generally be responsible for caring for the children, preparing meals, and engaging them in stimulating activities.

These are only just a few of the jobs high school students pursue! Spend an adequate amount of time looking through the jobs available in your area to apply to ones that fit your interests best.

FAQs: When to Apply for Summer Jobs

While we’ve covered the major inquiries about when to apply for summer jobs, you may still have some unanswered questions! To address these, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about applying for summer jobs.

1. When Should Students Begin to Look for a Summer Job?

It’s recommended students begin their job search as early as possible. Starting your search in January or February will allow you to explore your options and pursue any certifications or additional requirements you need to qualify for your desired jobs.

2. When Should I Start Applying for Summer Jobs?

While the exact time you should apply to summer jobs depends on when applications open and close, early spring is a good time to begin applying.

3. Is It OK to Get a Job Just for the Summer?

Absolutely! There are several summer positions just for students that only last a few months. Some employers may even offer to extend your contract with reduced hours so that you can still focus on school while continuing to contribute to the company!

4. What Should High School Students Include in Their Resume and Cover Letter for Summer Jobs?

High schoolers should include any relevant work and volunteer experience, extracurriculars, and valuable skills or qualifications they have. Ensure you also highlight your willingness to work hard and learn new things.

In your cover letter, explain your interest in the job, your relevant experience, and what you can bring to the position.

5. How Can I Prepare for My Job Interview?

You should prepare for your interview by first researching the company and learning about its most important feats. For instance, why was it created? What purpose does it serve? What is its mission? You should also practice responding to common interview questions and prepare a couple of questions to ask your interviewer. 

Bring a copy of your resume in case they ask for one and dress to impress!

Final Thoughts

Obtaining a summer job will not only help you build your personal and professional skills and portfolio, but can also help you get into your top colleges! Creating a diverse resume with several types of activities on it will surely impress the committee and demonstrate your responsibility and motivation! 

Apply early and pursue a job you’re interested in so that you can enjoy your summer while you prepare for your future!

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