When to Apply for a Summer Job

Teenage girl sitting on sofa and filling out a summer job application on a laptop
••• Elisabeth Schmitt / Getty Images

When is the best time to apply for summer jobs? Application deadlines for summer employment will vary greatly based on the organization. Some deadlines for competitive paid internships in industries like investment banking can occur as early as November. The application deadlines for summer work abroad programs are also early.

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

Starting the Search

Another thing to consider is when the best time is to start a summer job search. Even though application dates vary, it's not too early to start looking for jobs in the fall. 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. However, check with employers of interest to see when they start accepting applications. The earlier you apply the more job options you'll have.

Jobs That Aren't Posted

Since many summer jobs are not posted, you should reach out to target employers like local restaurants 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.

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. Spreading the word that you're looking for a job can do a lot to further your job search and hiring.

Available Jobs

Many jobs are available in the summer. Here are a few of the biggest 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 if they are hiring — 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.

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 skill, such as ticket takers or concession stand workers, are more likely to hire closer to the start of the summer.


Many industries, from banking to the arts, offer summer internship opportunities. These internships may be paid, for school credit only, or offer 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.