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You’re looking for the perfect summer job — something that’s fun, earns you extra cash and makes your college application stand out.

It’s a challenge but not impossible, especially if you’re creative and know where to look. Here are some insights from experts on summer jobs that will help you save for college and could even help you get in.

Embrace the Gig Economy

“Students with skills that are suited for freelance work, such as web or graphic design, can potentially earn good money and build their entrepreneurial skill set by taking advantage of the ‘gig economy.’ Freelancing can also offer the advantage of allowing the student flexibility to make their own schedule, so a student might take on some freelance work in their off-hours as a résumé-builder while still maintaining a more traditional summer job. For excellent writers, there are résumé-building opportunities in paid blogging and authoring or editing e-books.”

— Michelle McAnaney, The College Spy

Look for Work Related to Your Intended Major

“A prospective political science major may intern on a political campaign for a candidate or proposition. For students interested in health care, hospitals have formal nursing internships. An education major may look into tutoring centers, summer enrichment programs, day care centers or babysitting. I value anything that provides exposure to a potential career path, so students have a purpose for studying their field and are motivated to tie their education to their future plans.”

— Greg Kaplan, college counselor and author of Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting Into Highly Selective Colleges

Check Out Companies With Scholarship Programs

“Fast food and retail stores also offer competitive employment options with additional perks for high school and college students. Starbucks offers scholarships to their student workers. The company will pay all tuition costs for employees who want to earn a four-year online bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University. Students become eligible for tuition assistance after they have worked 160 hours at a qualified Starbucks location over the course of two months.

“UPS has a fantastic program called Earn and Learn, which will help with your college expenses, a bonus of up to $25,000 for part-time employees (up to $5,250 in assistance per calendar year). Most UPSers start their career as part-time employees, so this part-time job can lead to a full-time career for many. 

“Publix grocery stores also offer tuition reimbursement programs that cover traditional undergraduate and graduate programs. Any associate with six months of continuous service who works an average of 10 hours a week is eligible to participate with his or her manager’s approval.”

— Lindsay Gueren, counselor at Woodstock High School in Woodstock, Georgia

Get Into Research

“Research, research, research! Have you ever heard of the expression ‘Publish or perish’? It’s an old adage in academia that means if a professor doesn’t publish their research regularly, they’ll lose their job. It’s just a saying, but there is immense pressure on professors to research and publish their findings. So, if you can find a job in a research lab — like assisting, data entry or lab maintenance — you’ll be helping out a professor in an important way. Hopefully you’ll develop a relationship with the professor and they’ll pay it forward when it’s time for college applications. A recommendation letter or a good word at their university would add a lot of value to your application.”

— Nicole Porter, project director at Center for Community Research and former teaching fellow at DePaul University

Don’t Shy Away From Retail or Restaurants

“Retail and service-related positions are typically fast-paced and require multitasking. A social and positive attitude as the face of a restaurant or retail store speaks volumes about a student’s personality and commitment to customer service. In both retail and serving, beyond customer service, employees also often are in charge of inventory and merchandise and/or the cash register. These are big and important responsibilities that show a student is ready to take on the demands of college life.”

— Lacy Nettleton, assistant director of admissions at Clarion University of Pennsylvania

There are a wide range of summer jobs you can leverage to boost your college application. The key to making a summer job into a position that enhances your résumé is to apply yourself and absorb as much experience as possible.