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The Best (and Worst) Summer Jobs

We reveal the best and worst summer jobs.

Stephen Borkowski

June 05, 2007

The Best (and Worst) Summer Jobs

What is the best summer job? Before you collect an armful of applications from burger joints and clothing stores, try rephrasing the question -- what's the best summer job for you?

Ask Yourself:

If you foresee yourself logging a lot of hours over the summer, it makes sense to do it in an environment you enjoy. Ask yourself some of these questions as you consider summer work:

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  • Do you have any financial or personal goals you'd like to achieve?
  • Do you prefer to work autonomously or as part of a team?
  • Would you prefer to work indoors or outdoors?
  • Do you enjoy interacting with the public?
  • What special skills and talents do you have?

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After you've thought about a work environment that fits your personality you'll have a better handle on what type of work will be right for you. You might not find a job that fits your criteria precisely, but you should find something that has qualities that are important to you.

The Best Jobs

Landscaper, receptionist, cashier, waitress and librarian were just a few of the jobs FastWeb users contributed when asked to submit their best summer job. While the types of jobs varied, students' attitudes about the jobs shared some common traits. The people working them enjoyed the environment, liked their coworkers and loved what they were doing.

Kirsten Sears enjoyed working as a lifeguard at a country club. She says, "working outside at the pool was great. Not only did I get a great tan, I also met a lot of interesting people. You get paid higher than minimum wage because of the responsibility the job holds, yet you have fun while working."

For Cecilia Alexander, her summer job at a jewelry store was the best. "It was like experiencing Christmas everyday. I loved helping people find new jewelry for different occasions," she says.

Melvin McDermott's time spent volunteering at a children's day camp helped him realize that he "was great with working with kids," he says. That helped drive his decision to pursue a career as a pediatrician, something he'll start when he enrolls at the University of North Carolina.

The Worst Jobs

For all of the positive work experiences out there, many students have had the agony of working a terrible job. Bad jobs aren't just about low pay, long hours, mind numbing boredom or tyrannical bosses. Some jobs are downright dangerous for unqualified or underage workers

On their web site, the National Consumers League (NCL) lists the five worst teen jobs. This list is compiled through surveys, news reports and government statistics. According to the NCL the five worst teen jobs are:

1. Agricultural Fieldwork and Processing. Due to the number of injuries caused by farm machinery, animals, chemicals and other risks, agricultural work is the most dangerous industry for young workers.

2. Construction and Work at Heights. Construction sites are filled with hazards and according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, "youth 15-17 years of age working in construction had greater than seven times the risk for fatal injury as youth in other industries."

3. Outside Helper: Landscaping, Groundskeeping and Lawn Service. Outside helpers work with dangerous hand tools and chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers which can cause injuries.

4. Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors and ATVs. Drivers are at risk of vehicle rollovers, being struck by a vehicle, being pinned by a forklift, and other hazards

5. Traveling Youth Crews. Often unsupervised, these crews travel to unfamiliar neighborhoods to sell candy and magazine subscriptions door-to-door.

Keep in mind there is nothing inherently negative about these jobs -- they have been categorized as "worst" because of safety factors only. If you are one of the thousands of teens that already holds one of these jobs, we would encourage you to do what you can to make sure you are properly supervised and to stay safe at work!

The Right Fit

Summer jobs generate cash-flow, work experience and good memories for young students every summer. Look for positions in safe environments where workers are properly trained. Beyond that, consider your own personality and tastes to find summer work that keeps you happy.

What are the best and worst summer jobs you've had?!

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