They say you learn how to: Give CPR, save lives.
You really learn how to: Use sunglasses to cover up the fact that you're sleeping on the job, and, if you're physically gifted, make skimming the pool look like it's an enviable task.
Upside: Skin! Skin! Skin!
Downside: Sunburn! Sunburn! Sunburn!
Minimum age: 15.
How do I get this job? Take a certification course during the winter at your local YMCA or JCC. Then start calling country clubs, apartment complexes, and summer camps.
Hook-up factor: Moderate. It all depends on where you work. Big neighborhood or country-club pools can be a bonanza for your libido (or so I've heard). On the other hand, if you pick the wrong place—say, the YMCA—you'll be subject to a daily visual diet of only the very young (taking swimming lessons) and the very old (doing water aerobics).
Job: Day-camp counselor.
They say you learn how to: Work with kids, lead a group with confidence, teach useful skills, mediate petty squabbles.
You really learn how to: Transfer important responsibilities to your co-counselors, explain to 8-year-old girls that they've got no chance with the dreamy 18-year-old camp crafts instructor.
Upside: When you're not looking after your kids, you can chill with other teenagers.
Downside: You always have to look after your kids.
Wages: Anywhere from $600 to $3,000 for 8 weeks of work.
Minimum age: Generally speaking, you need to be an incoming sophomore or junior in high school.
How do I get this job? In March, check with local private schools, community organizations, and religious groups about when their camp starts. If you call early enough (or have a connection), a job is pretty easy to get.
Hook-up factor: Moderate to high. No one will be impressed by your job, but you do spend all of your days in the sun with other hot, sweaty, bored teenagers.
Job: Sleepaway-camp counselor.
They say you learn how to: Plan activities, act as a surrogate parent for children, deal with homesickness, be responsible for others.
You really learn how to: Haze 11-year-olds while remaining within the moral boundaries of civilized society; read Penthouse letters; force that smelly home-schooled kid into the shower on the eve of visitors' day.
Upside: No parents, no curfews, co-workers who live with you (some of whom are over the age of 21).
Downside: You're responsible for 10-15 kids for nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week; getting caught taking advantage of your elder co-workers' ability to buy beer.
Wages: $600 to $2,000 for 10 weeks, plus room and board. Junior counselors and counselors-in-training—"CITs"—sometimes receive just room and board, not an actual salary.
Minimum age: 16 to be a junior counselor or CIT, 17 to be a real counselor.
How do I get this job? This is a tough one. The best way to get one of these jobs is to go to a summer camp until you're old enough to be a counselor (which also involves kissing up to/making nice with the powers-that-be). However, these camps are usually quite expensive; an alternative might involve finding a wealthy friend who has attended one and is willing to give you a recommendation. If that fails, get out the Yellow Pages in January and dial up as many camps as possible. It often helps to have a European accent and dark Mediterranean features. A couple of years ago I was entertaining the fantasy of being a waiter at very posh, all-girls camp … then I found out I had no chance unless my name was André, Enriqué, or Jean-Paul.
Hook-up factor: Very high. Up to 10 weeks with no parental oversight, other teenagers (and young adults) living in close quarters, the occasional night off, and there's always skinny-dipping in the lake. Note to parents: This is the case even at camps that are religiously stringent. If the camp is not co-ed, it merely means that any inter-camp mixing will be quite … intense, or there will be a certain amount of what people like to call "homo-social bonding."
They say you learn how to: Telemarket.
You really learn how to: Annoy the hell out of people in a professional manner.
Upside: Nice desk, your own phone, flexible hours, relatively high pay, and little stress. Downside: You're a telemarketer.
Wages: $9-$15 per hour, plus commissions.
Minimum age: Some places will hire students as young as 14, although 16 and 18 is much more common.
How do I get this job? Check want ads in free employment newspaper. The phone book is also a decent resource; however, it would be quicker to find people a couple years older than you who have telemarketed before and can give you leads.
Hook-up factor: Low. No one likes telemarketers. Plus, "Would you like to refinance your mortgage?" does not qualify as a pick-up line.
Job: Worker bee at a quaint guitar-repair center, thrift store, second-hand book shop, etc.
They say you learn how to: Manage a small business, other assorted skills.
You really learn how to: Sit in a corner and read, other assorted skills.
Upside: Peace, quiet, and quirkiness.
Downside: There is such a thing as too much peace, quiet, and quirkiness. Think of Canada.
Wages: $6-$9 per hour.
Minimum age: 14.
How do I get this job? Wander around stores until you hit the jackpot, or work the phones for a couple of hours.
Hook-up factor: Low. Even if you're cute, these places usually have low traffic. However, if you manage to obtain a significant other over the summer, your work days will be rife with opportunities for a little bit of backroom derring-do.
Job: Sales assistant at a music or book mega-store.
They say you learn how to: Interact with customers, maximize product placement, get acquainted with shipping software.
You really learn how to: Get depressed by the fact that so many people are buying Avril Lavigne albums at full price.
Upside: Shelves of books, shelves of music.
Downside: Suburbanites who think they're literary now that there's a Barnes & Noble with a cappuccino bar near their McMansions enclave; the old lady who repeatedly comes to the store to ask if her favorite novel is still out of print.
Wages: $7-$10 per hour.
Minimum age: 16.
How do I get this job? Fill out applications and cross your fingers. Do not mention your love of alt-rock in the interview; do look the part of fresh-faced suburbanite by wearing Banana Republic (or Gap or J. Crew or Abercrombie & Fitch or …)
Hook-up factor: Moderate. Helpfulness, charm, and a little nerdiness might catch the eye of like-minded bookworms or record-heads. If you have a thing for mall rats, you can always check the in-store cafe after your shift ends.
A Hard Day's Work
Job: Construction worker.
They say you learn how to: Build stuff.
You really learn how to: Look manly.
Upside: Power tools and dangerous machinery.
Downside: Power tools and dangerous machinery.
Wages: $8-$13 per hour.
Minimum age: 16, although it's usually 18.
How do I get this job? Phone book, or by pestering the guys who are fixing up your school.
Hook-up factor: High. The combination of rugged work, taut muscles, tight-fitting undershirts, a tan, and really cool lunchboxes can elicit the kind of lust that trumps sexual orientation.
They say you learn how to: Maintain grass, trim hedges, repair fences.
You really learn how to: Play poker on lunch breaks, and drive a tractor.
Upside: Lawnmower fights!
Downside: Muddy fields, the possibility of literally getting a 'redneck,' grass rash.
Minimum age: 16, although some places will hire 14-year-olds.
How do I get this job? Local park services often hire summer help. Also, keep a lookout for want ads.
Hook-up factor: High for females, low for males. Even for those of us who aren't denizens of NASCAR nation, there's a certain allure to tractor-driving women. On the other hand, there's not much of a market for guys who smell like fertilizer.
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