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

Applying for summer jobs
May 6, 2024
4 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/6/24

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. Like applying to internships, 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

  • Research available job types in your area.
  • Identify your areas of interest.
  • Note job requirements and consider necessary certifications.
  • Example: Camp counselor roles often require CPR certification.

Early March

  • Create tailored resumes for the jobs you're interested in.
  • Highlight skills, extracurriculars, volunteer experiences.
  • Prepare a one-page resume for each job type.
  • Begin seeking references.

Late March to April

  • Keep an eye out for summer job postings.
  • Monitor company websites and job platforms like Monster and Indeed.
  • Job posting times vary by industry.


  • Submit job applications in April.
  • Expect a multi-step hiring process.
  • Prepare for interviews, assessments, and background checks.
  • Anticipate responses within a few weeks.

Late April – May

  • Prepare for interviews by practicing common questions.
  • Research companies' missions and values.
  • Highlight relevant qualifications.
  • Prepare insightful questions for interviewers.

May – June

  • Carefully review job offers.
  • Choose the job that aligns best with your interests and schedule.
  • Make a lasting impression in your new role.
  • Build relationships with mentors and colleagues to expand your network.
female high school student being interviewed for job

Popular Summer Jobs for High School Students

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 jobs for high school students:

Retail Sales Associate

National Average Salary: $15.52 per hour

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

National Average Salary: $16.89 per hour

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.

Lifeguard: 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

National Average Salary: $15.90 per hour

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.


National Average Salary: $21.13 per hour

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. 


National Average Salary: $15.46 per hour

As a petsitter, you'll have the opportunity to care for furry friends while their owners are away. Your responsibilities may include feeding, walking, and providing companionship for pets like dogs and cats. 

Depending on the pet's needs, you might also administer medications or follow specific care instructions. It's a rewarding job for animal lovers and a chance to ensure pets are happy and well-cared for in their owner's absence.

Explore the variety of job options in your area and find the one that aligns best with your interests and passions.

female high school student babysitting child

FAQs: When to Apply for Summer Jobs

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

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 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, internships, 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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