All of the fun, convenient jobs I mentioned in my other post do look great on a college application, but the ones that truly look amazing are actually the more challenging jobs. Here are the top three winning jobs from some of my past students:
1. Fast food worker Working in a fast food restaurant like McDonalds can teach you the value of hard work and providing excellent customer service. Although it may not be the most attractive employment, it will teach you about punctuality, interacting with authority figures, teamwork, and problem-solving. You will meet tons of different kinds of people from the real world who will surprise you more than you expect.
2. Ice cream shop employee This challenging job is all the more difficult because it sounds so fun at first! In reality, the scooping is strenuous labor that no one appreciates, customers expect a smile from you at all times, and there tends to be a sudden rush of customers quite frequently. At Cold Stone (probably the worst of them) they’ll even make you sing. Colleges know and appreciate what you’re doing here because they’ve seen it from students in the past.
3. Water park lifeguard Unlike the pool lifeguard, there is rarely a relaxing moment at the water park. Not to mention, fewer opportunities for shade, hydration, and friendly social interaction. Honestly, too, people can be mean at the water park, as many of them are dehydrated and uncomfortable. My student in the past who worked at the water park had a truly fantastic college essay to write about her experience. I both do and don’t recommend this job to any teenager looking for a real challenge.
Here are the three runner-up jobs!
4. Lawn care Why not take a job where you can use dangerous power tools and sweat in the sun? Learn how to rake leaves, operate a lawnmower, and use a weed whacker. You can also learn to take accountability for your actions and productivity. Bonus points if you start a lawn care company and find your own clients in your neighborhood.
5. Paper deliveryperson Yes, “paperboys” still exist! This is an excellent way to learn responsibility, time management, and money management. You must determine the most efficient path for delivering the papers, learn to handle their cash, keep on task, and assume responsibility for any deliveries that are missed.
6. Retail work Working in a store like H&M can be a fantastic way to develop your customer service and sales skills – not to mention your patience. Be ready for lots of rude customers who treat you like you’re not there. But in the real world, you’ll need to be able to deal with all sorts of people on the spot, and colleges will appreciate you taking on the challenge.
Colleges love to see part-time jobs as much as they love to see expensive summer programs! Review our post about applying for part-time jobs if you're not sure where to start next.
Once you nab an impressive part-time job, you'll need to start thinking of how to present it in your college essays. If you're applying to UC schools, you can preview the UC essays (PIQs) and learn what the University of California admission readers are really looking for. Download my completely free UC Essay Preview Guide here:
Robert Powers (M.A. Johns Hopkins) is the college consultant at College Torch. He is an expert in colleges and the college admissions process. Follow College Torch by joining our Facebook group for Parents of College-Bound Students.