A few weeks ago, I recruited some high school students for my latest photo shoot. They attend the local public high school which reminds me of my old high school back in New Jersey. The student body is incredibly diverse on all levels from race, to socioeconomic background, to post-graduation plans. The one thing that all four students have in common is simple: They all have summer jobs. In fact, they all work year-round.
It didn't matter that one is doing the full International Baccalaureate program (the most demanding high school curriculum available!), another is a track star, and yet another travels via public transportation to get to his job 20 minutes away. They all worked and it impressed me. Big time.
- For summer, I would recommend a job that allows the student to work 4 to 10 weeks of the summer and at least 10 hours (more is better, though) a week for the most bang for your buck! The commitment needs to be substantial enough that it's worth listing on your "activities" section of your application.
- Manual labor jobs are the most impressive. Yes, that's right. They are physically harder than an office job, and they give students perspective on the regular working adult. Cleaning toilets, dishwashing, farm work, lawn care, and other jobs that force the student to get dirty are not only humbling, they are just as impactful as anything they can do.
- Traditional jobs for high school students are good too. Jobs as a lifeguard, camp counselor, or ice cream scooper are sometimes easier to find and parents feel more comfortable allowing their children to take them on.
- Jobs related to your intended major are hugely beneficial to you and your application. This is a way to show evidence of ability and passion for the major/program listed on your application. Just remember that the unusual jobs in a particular field are more impactful. For example, working at a law office for a student who wants to be a lawyer is fairly common. Instead, inquire about whether you can get experience doing something very specific to the field. This is a way to carve out a niche—like working on an adoption case if you are interested in adoption law.
"Jobs related to your intended major are hugely beneficial to you and your application." TWEET THIS
- School year jobs are demanding with school work and other activities so think carefully about whether you can handle it all. Not all students have the luxury to choose whether or not they want to work during the school year. But if you do, make sure your grades and mental health don't suffer because of it.