Last summer, 48.8% of Americans aged 16-24 were employed in July—that’s a 10.4% decrease from 5 years ago and a 14.5% decrease from 10 years ago. In fact, 48.8% is the lowest July youth employment rate since 1948. The economy has no doubt made it more difficult for college students to find summer employment. Many businesses are looking for longer commitment than just the summer months. Yet with the rising cost of college (which is 6 times more expensive now than in 1981), it’s more important than ever to be able to earn an income during the summer.
This forces many students to decide between a paid job that doesn’t provide relevant experience and an unpaid internship that can provide invaluable experience. Don’t give up—you can find ways to get the best of both worlds. With a part-time unpaid internship, you still have time to make some extra cash with another job. Having trouble finding an opening that works with your schedule and a company that is willing to hire you for just the summer? Consider positions with off-hours or that are only available in the summer, like landscaping, working at a pool or water park, babysitting, or a camp counselor.
If you haven’t been able to land an internship, don’t write off this summer as adding nothing to your resume. Customer service and being able to work on a time are essential parts of many careers—and skills that you can learn through almost any retail job. Do you know what field you want to go into? Look for a related position, even if it’s not on the corporate side. For example, if you wish you were interning at a fashion magazine, look for a part-time job at a stylish store. It will give you real world experience that you can talk about in future interviews, as well as give you a paycheck. Good luck changing the statistics and turning this summer into a productive and profitable experience!