Ah, summer! Pools, barbecues, lemonade and awkward tan lines! For those of you in high school or college, it’s the single thing you most look forward to while suffering through every coffee-guzzling all-nighter and what fuels every grueling step to class as you carry 20 pounds of books in your poor, whittled hands. Now is your time to relax and finally have some fun. Don’t worry, you deserve it! But your parents and your quickly growing adult mindset tell you that spending every day on rollercoasters will rattle your brain into mush, and instead to do something productive.
Ugh, productivity. The gremlin that weighs on your mind at each extra hour you sleep in or every rerun of “Three’s Company” you absorb as you sit zombie-faced with a box of Mike and Ike’s on your belly. I’ll do something tomorrow, you tell yourself. I’ll find a job tomorrow. What’s the rush? I’m only young once! Then you get back to school and find that over the summer, Stacy from Biology built schoolhouses in Guatemala and learned how to shave an alpaca from the thankful villagers.
Did you know that you’re most prone to headaches at the beginning of the school year? Ya, you’ve literally been turning been melting your brain over the past couple of months with those Toddlers and Tiaras marathons. You’ve fallen out of the loop on studying and consciously trying to retain information. Mix that with the worry of classmates, having the best lunch period and the ultimate in locker real estate, and your noggin feels like a battlefield. Doing something to keep you active and on your toes over the summer could prevent such studying migraines, as well as the great perks of earning your own cash and getting a head start on building a resume for the ominously approaching real world.
But, who’s to say you can’t be productive AND have fun in the meantime? Here are a few suggestions on ways to get the most out of your summer.
Take A Class
I know, I know, you just wrapped up a whole school year, but hear me out before you yell at me. Local universities and community colleges always offer extension courses and sessions in a wide range of subjects. Take up photography, creative writing, yoga, acting, or improv. Most are pretty inexpensive and you can finally take a class on something you personally enjoy that isn’t a state mandated requirement.
Get An Internship
Although mainly focused on college upperclassmen, there are internships available for high school students, as well. Anywhere from fashion, design, to journalism, music, and law offices, getting an internship in a field of your interest will not only give you experience, but you’ll also be in an environment that you desire to be a part of and not cleaning out dressing rooms at the mall. Sure, most of the job responsibilities s involve menial filing and making coffee, but it offers a much stronger payoff and you’ll be thankful for the experience.
Karma ticket punch! Volunteering is such a rewarding activity that’ll not only fill your little soul with purpose, but is a great way to kick-start your experience in working with others. Most schools ask students to do a certain amount of volunteer hours as requirements for certain classes or organizations, but even if you don’t have a timesheet to fill why not do your part to give back to community? Places like animal shelters, homeless shelters, science museums, aquariums, youth mentoring programs, hotlines, retirement homes and charity runs always need your assistance and help.
I spent a summer after graduating from college volunteering at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium just for the fun of it. Most of the others there were high school students planning to go into the marine biology field, and I saw what a great outlet it was for them to (literally) get their hands wet. For me, it was just a weekly escape that gave me something to look forward to outside of a stressful job so I could goof around while also being able to educate visitors. I got to talk to little kids about sea stars and sharks all day, play informative activities with students on field trips, and ultimately learned a lot about aquatic science myself. Sometimes I’d even go onto the pier wearing an octopus costume. Not a bad gig at all.
Get A Job
Every parent’s famous words. Who says a job can’t be fun, though? If you’re the kind of person that hates being trapped indoors, there are plenty of summer positions that’ll keep you moving.
- Lifeguard– the classic summer gig. You must get CPR certified, which is a important thing to have in any situation, and hang outside by a pool all day. Not to take this position lightly, however, since you must obviously watch your swimmers like a hawk and be aware of proper safety procedures, but you’re ultimately there to make sure that people are having a fun time and keeping the peace. You’ll also yell “NO RUNNING!” more than you’d ever thought possible for someone who doesn’t have kids.
- Camp Counselor – Another classic. A job and a vacation in one, and a great way to keep active from carrying all that campfire lumber and chasing after the kids who started the mess hall food fight.
- Amusement Parks – If you’re going to roller-coaster your way to to a mushy brain, get paid for it! If you live by a big amusement or water park, these places are absolutely dying for your help right now. I’ve never done this job myself, but I’d assume there has to be some free roller-coaster rides in there somewhere, right? Right? Someone let me own an amusement park, please.
- Event Staff – For those over 18, working security for live events lets you get paid to be at concerts, and you don’t necessarily have to be a big burly 7′ bearded guy. My college roommate did this her freshman year of school and worked the door for various concerts throughout the summer, meeting lots of bands, and listening to great (and not so great) music every night. Win!
- Ballparks – Love sports? Perfect. Help your fellow fans enjoy your favorite team while soaking in all the action yourself! Need I mention hot dogs?
- YMCA – Love sports enough to want to teach? Teach kids how to play ‘em! Most cities have a YMCA and always need more employees for the summer craze.
- Hotel Waiter – People are on vacation and they need towels and drinks, y’all! Serve guests by the pool and get tips tips tips! And an adorably hilarious uniform. As I write this all I can think of is the Malibu Sands.
- Cater Waiter – Weddings and outdoor daytime events will be booming this time of year, and so will the need for waiters. Hours for catering companies are very flexible and every day you’re in a new place with new faces around delicious food. Hopefully there’s a good-looking best man to be found somewhere, too.
- Dog-Walker – Search online or ask around your neighborhood if anyone needs help pampering their pooch. This position is always in demand by those who have to work 9 to 5 jobs and you’ll be able to exercise and have all the fuzzy animal attention you so desire. And poop. Hey, it’s still a job!
- Building Schoolhouses in Guatemala – Get out of here, Stacy!
Have a happy summer, everyone! Sincerely, your internet mother.
Image via Better Parenting Institute