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With Old Man Winter soon heading back to his retirement home for another year, we can all look forward to the arrival of summer. Despite all the sleep you intend to finally catch up on, it's important to get out there and take full advantage of what the season has to offer. Summer is the quintessential time to earn money and gain work experience when you're not in school. Not only do summer jobs allow you to spice up your resume, but they also produce funds you can use towards that college or university tuition. Camps are but one choice many young people make when looking for seasonal employment. Nevertheless, you can find other year-round industries that annually open their doors to new hires for both part-time and full-time positions. Let's have a look see...


Many retailers offer part-time summer positions to those seeking to make some cash while they're not in school. Usually, this sector can provide the hours to keep your wallet well-fed, and it's flexible enough to mould into a convenient schedule. Even if you can't get the day off, switching shifts with someone else could be an option. However, there are times when your store might be short on hours, and the time you should be spending on the floor helping customers is spent at home playing Call of Duty.

Retail wages can vary depending on where you work and what your role is. Customer service representatives may start out at minimum wage or higher, but typically won't make as much as shift leaders who might take in $11 to $12 an hour.

There's also a bit of a turnover rate in this industry with students heading back to class once September rolls in but at the same time, this may provide more hours if you wish to stay employed and continue earning money while in school.


We're all familiar with the cliché of passing by a bar or restaurant and seeing a help wanted sign posted on the window. Truth is many restaurants are in a constant need of a few extra hands, especially during the summer. This season usually sees a spike in business with more people eating out and an influx of tourists. January and February are traditionally slow months [for hiring], says William Mowat, who used to serve at a variety of restaurants from bars to fine dining. And then spring rolls around, patio season opens up, and restaurants will usually hire twice the number of staff in the summer time.

Restaurants are ideal when it comes to hours, providing considerable flexibility for those who might need time for things like summer school. Then, of course, there are the tips, which is the icing on the cake when waiting tables. I'd say 99 percent of [servers] are here because of the tips, says Mowat. If you're a good server and do your job, you can make anywhere from $150 on a slow night to $300 on a good night, depending on where you work.


No, I'm not talking about the kind to be put on display at the Louvre. House painting, interiors and exteriors, is another option during this season. Erin Scheel deals with special projects for College Pro Painters, which alone hires over 2000 students in the summer. She emphasizes how this not only provides a means to earn money in the summer, but it also creates an opportunity for young people to manage their own business and make long-term profit, not just in the summer.

Painters can expect to put in 40 hour work weeks, while managers running their own painting franchise will want to put in 15 to 25 hours for marketing and 40 plus hours in an operating term. It's clearly not for the faint of heart, says Scheel, but it's also an opportunity for someone to go way above and beyond their typical summer job.

Students trying to pay their way through school might also care to look into this. In my first year of university I ran a [house painting] franchise and I earned enough that summer to pay for my entire university education, Scheel explains. Indeed, she worked a substantial amount of hours, but she graduated debt free four years later. So depending on how hard you work, as a painter you can earn anywhere from $4000-$6000 in one summer, while managing your own franchise could rake in about $16,000.

House painting itself doesn't require much skill, other than what the company would teach you. Among the things that College Pro does prepare you for is how to market your own business, do an estimate, sell a paint job, hire and train a painter, manage finances and schedules, pretty much everything you need if your goal is to be self-employed.


Jobs can be found in the various fields (pun not intended) that make up the landscaping sector, including grounds management, irrigation, lawn maintenance, even interior landscapes. Be warned: in this type of work 12 hour days are the norm. An eight hour shift would feel like nothing, says Justin Matthews, a York University student who's been landscaping since the age of 15.

Although this industry typically has a disproportional guy-to-girl ratio, landscaping is something young women might find interesting nonetheless. Jobs for the city, such as parks and recreation, may see more women than in other landscaping fields. I've worked with girls on the really hard jobs, and they just blew my mind, says Matthews. They're the toughest girls I've seen in my life.

Students working for a company can earn anything from $12 an hour to $18. Depending on how hard you work, you can walk away with $4000 to $10,000 after one summer, according to Matthews. Also, landscaping could lead to running your own business. Many people in landscaping are self-employed, and it doesn't take too much to get a company off the ground. Most of the required materials you probably have in your garage. In this respect, summer landscaping provides the perfect opportunity for young entrepreneurs. If you're a ten-year-old kid, and you go door to door asking people for $20 to cut their lawns, most likely they'll say yes, says Matthews. Eight hours of that and you'll make more money than if you worked for someone else.

Piecework agriculture

Many orchards and farms offer agricultural work during the summer. Greg Norton owns and operates Okanagan Harvest, which specializes in picking and packaging cherries, plums, and peaches in Oliver, BC. He notes some of the important things that students can learn while doing this for the summer. They learn how to start a job and finish it, says Norton, and how to use their brain and their back. Norton explains how working on an orchard can teach important life skills in how to perform a task quickly and effectively.

The amount a student can earn cherry picking varies, depending on how much they picked and the orchard they're working on. Okanagan Harvest for instance pays 30 cents a pound, which is more than other farms, roughly tallying up to $100 for a seven hour shift.

An orchard may hire around thirty people for the season, but larger ones typically recruit more. Spaces fill up rather quickly, however, and Norton stresses the importance of applying early, no later than January at the least (We're late, we know. Sorry.). As orchards are located in rural areas, they may also provide living facilities for their on-site workers, who could be spending the summer away from home.

There's so much more to say about each of these sectors. No matter which you choose, they would all look stellar on a resume. Best advice is to try a different one each year. You'll be surprised at the experience you gain and the opportunities it comes with. jp

Photos: Dmitrii Kotin/Thinkstock