When to Apply for a Summer Job

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The best time to apply for summer jobs may be earlier than you think. Application deadlines for summer employment tend to vary depending on the organization, the industry, and the type of job.

For competitive paid internships in industries like investment banking, government, and media, the deadlines may be as early as November. Are you interested in interning at the National Institutes of Health, for example? Applications are open from November to March. Similarly, at NBC Universal, summer internship applications open in November. The application deadlines for summer work abroad programs are also early.

Summer Jobs With Early Deadlines

As a rule, more competitive and career-oriented jobs and internships tend to have earlier deadlines than summer jobs at camps or in the service sector.

The majority of summer employers will review applications and set deadlines sometime during the period from February through May.

This means that applications for summer positions typically need to be in well before the weather turns warm and several months prior to summer.

Some retail and hospitality organizations are nearly always in hiring mode, though, and with those employers, applying close to the summer — or even once the summer season starts — can be successful.

When to Start Your Search 

It's not just about when to put in your application. You'll also need to consider when to start your search for places to apply. 

Even though application dates vary, it's not too early to start looking for jobs in the fall. That's particularly true if you are looking for an internship or career-oriented position. On the other hand, you won't miss out on lining up a job, especially in the hospitality industry, if you wait until the spring. Summer resort jobs often having a shorter hiring cycle. 

If you know where you want to work, it's a good idea to check with the company to see when it will start accepting applications. And keep in mind that the earlier you apply, the more job options you'll have. You'll be able to line up a great summer job without stressing over finding one at the last minute.

Find Jobs That Aren't Posted

Since many summer jobs are not posted, you should reach out to target employers like local restaurants, shops, or camps to inquire about positions for the upcoming summer. 

If they are not yet screening applicants, then ask when you can apply. Many organizations will consider applicants on a rolling basis until all their summer slots are filled. Given this scenario, it is much better to be too early than too late.

Start Networking Early

If you accept the premise that many or even most summer jobs are awarded to those who network with staff, then you should begin the process as soon as possible during the fall. 

Reaching out to friends of the family, teachers, coaches, neighbors, local professionals, fellow church members, and college alumni for advice and to brainstorm ideas is a great way to launch your summer job networking campaign. You can further your job search by spreading the word that you're looking for a job.

Most Popular Summer Jobs

Many jobs are available in the summer. Here are a few of the most in-demand summertime work opportunities and a peek at when they are likely to hire: 

Retail and Food Services 

In general, retail companies and restaurants, bars, and cafes hire year-round. In summer, when people travel frequently, these industries often want additional staffers to fill in for employees who are on vacation. Since turnover is high, applying close to the start of summer, or even during the summer, can be successful.

Sometimes you'll see a sign on the window of an establishment saying they are hiring. If not, just walk in and inquire about any open positions. Bring your resume and be prepared to fill out an application.

Camp Counselor

While there are winter break camps, summer is camp's biggest season. Camp counselors and other support staff are in high demand. Most camps will have an early application process and may favor former campers. Apply early for these positions, and look on the camp's website for information on application deadlines. Get more details on how to apply for a summer camp job

Outdoor Beaches, Amusement Parks, Resorts, and Stadiums

Like camp, many outdoor industries flourish in warm weather. From lifeguards to concession stand workers to ticket takers, many employees are required during this busy season. Application deadlines can vary for these types of positions, but jobs that demand a certification (such as a lifeguard) or specific experience will require an early application.

Seasonal outdoor jobs that require less experience or no specific skills, such as ticket takers or concession stand workers, are more likely to hire closer to the start of the summer.

Internships

Many industries, from banking to the arts, offer summer internship opportunities. These internships may be paid, for school credit only, or provide a small living or travel expenses stipend.

Internships are often competitive and have a formal application process. Applications are typically due in the wintertime or very early in the spring. You may be able to apply as early as the fall (November) prior to the summer when you want to work. 

Key Takeaways

Think about your summer job early: Applications often open in late fall, particularly in competitive industries. It's helpful to have an idea of where you'd like to work early on. Then, look at company websites for information on deadlines and the application process. 

Not all jobs are posted: In particular, if you're interested in a role in the hospitality or service industry, it's helpful to reach out to specific companies.

Networking can lead to opportunities: Let your friends, family, and community know you're looking for a summer role. You never know who will have information on an opportunity.