Summers are great times for students, it is a time of great opportunity. Right now I am looking around at undergraduate students who are spending 10 weeks working a lab (being paid!) through the CLIMB UP program here at UB (http://www.buffalo.edu/climb/climb-up.html) which will help them decide if they want to go to graduate school. Unfortunately, this kind of summer opportunity was never one I could take advantage of because I had to work to pay for college. This meant that because my work was not alright with taking a summer away, I never took advantage of such a great program. My husband did and it was one of the reasons he got into a PhD program and I only was able to get into a Master's program.
So, what if you don't want to get into graduate school or can't afford to take a summer off from work? Well, you still have opportunities during the summer. The last summer before my husband and I left for buffalo we knew money was going to be tight. We had to pay for moving, save for an emergency fund, and save for closing costs because this was the Summer of 2009 and the government was giving tax credits for purchasing a house and in buffalo it is cheaper to buy then to rent. So, we worked. My husband picked up a second job as a referee because loves hockey. I picked up as many hours as I could at work. Summers are great for earning money. As a student I was always, go, go, go. But the summer takes away all those class hours, all that studying. Even if you add in a lot of fun times, there is a serious amount of time you can spend working.
Your work can be something related to your hobby like my husband's refereeing, or just picking up extra hours from your school year job like I did or it can be a small internship.
Internships can be great but many are unpaid. So how do you find one which is paid? Tap your network. Ask professors if they know anyone who needs extra help during the summer, talk with people at you career center, cold call companies that you would like to work for and ask if they have any summer opportunities for students, any of these may work. Even if all you are doing is making coffee and stuffing envelopes, you can spend the summer making more connections for your future career or your next summer's wage.
Maybe you are sitting there and saying, but the summer has already started, what can I do NOW? Hit the pavement, start dropping applications off. Yes, most employers have hired their summer work force but often this is when they drop the ones that are not working out. Connect with your friends, see if their jobs need anyone. Ask your parents if they know anyone who needs help. But this is not the time to be picky. If you are good with dogs and someone needs a dog walking in afternoon, TAKE IT! This is your time to be a freelancer, find opportunities for yourself. Does someone need a tween driven somewhere, grab that opportunity. Make everyone in the neighborhood know, you are there to help. Someone is cleaning out their basement for a yard sale, can you help for a share of profits? You may not make much at first but in this connections matter and by the end of the summer you so busy you won't know what to do with yourself.
But don't forget to have fun this summer. By the time you finish college, summer break will be a thing of the past, so take advantage of it.