Let me guess—you just spent the entire quarter putting aside every opportunity for learning, instead watching re-runs of reality TV and spending nights in the cloudy haze of downtown. Dead week came and left you in a paralyzed dream state, as the full reality of homework settled onto your shoulders. Then, finals were spent consuming coffee, energy drinks and various other stimulants, trying to cram a quarter's worth of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmitic into your brain, while cursing every night spent at The Horseshoe. In your relief to be done with finals you forgot one key thing—to find a decent summer job.  Now you're stuck in the maze-like cubicles of a generic corporation, behind the cash register of the local Safeway, or re-folding clothes at Macy's.

Don't worry; getting caught up in the hectic craze of school can happen to anybody. Here's the upside, your summer doesn't have to be so ordinary. For the most part, students (that's us) have a huge deal of mobility during the four or five (or six) years at school. Besides a potential lease or occasional summer class, there isn't much that a student must stay in town for. Those three months of summer can be the proverbial brass ring just waiting to be reached for; they are your chance to (gasp) have an interesting summer job.

I think I should take this opportunity to define “interesting.” I, personally, have been working summers in Alaska at a cannery. While working 16-hour days in a factory, wearing a hairnet and looking at cans of raw salmon, may not sound appealing to all, it does have its benefits. First off, the plane ticket is free, as is room and board. Second, canneries also draw a crowd that you won't meet in a college environment. I worked for a man named Slim, and my co-workers consisted of assorted college kids and people of all ages, from the Philippines, Mexico, South America, and Eastern Europe. There were probably 10 different languages spoken in my job area alone.

Plus, I learned things that were atypical of most jobs, such as why you should never buy canned salmon and the etiquette of hitchhiking. College is supposed to be the time in which one stockpiles experiences via cheap travel opportunities, only to later drag them out at parties and wow guests. Besides, what would David Sedaris have written all of his short stories about if he hadn't worked an odd assortment of menial labor? That said, here are some ways to find a summer job that will put you in a new environment with a different set of people.

First decide what you want out of a job. There are loads of different choices to be mulled over. Don't make this choice according to money or practicality, but instead ask yourself where you want to travel to, would the room and board be cheap or free, and what type of people will the job attract? For example, with your average camp counselor gig, you could probably work anywhere in the nation, get free room and board, and meet lots of cheery 20-year-olds. There are other options. What about kayak tour-guide assistant, working at a national park, building trails in Colorado, carnival work in Louisiana, waving to five year-olds as a Disneyland mascot, or picking fruit in Oregon? 

Don't get me wrong, taking any of the jobs listed won't be “an amazing experience” a lot of the time. Many mornings I didn't want to wake up after five hours of sleep and stand in a hot, fish-smelling room. But when the season was over, I was in Alaska with some new friends and a big paycheck. Plus I had been offered a free place to stay if I ever visited any of my co-workers in Turkey, I had been proposed to by an old man in his eighties, and heard the life story of a 60-year-old machinist named Kenny.  

So now that I've convinced you that you want to start looking for a different sort of summer job. First off, ask around. Western students have held just about any job you could hope for. Ask your friends what they have heard of. The best way to find a job is to ask someone who already has worked it. That way they can tell you if it is a reputable deal, or something that will strand you in the middle of nowhere. If that doesn't work then you can search the Internet. This can be an overwhelming process, as searching “summer jobs” brings up over 100 million entries. This can work, try it and see what you come up with. However, it will be easier if you can narrow your search to a specific job, company or organization.  Some of the more reputable sites that I've found are www.coolworks.com and www.jobmonkey.com. And let's not forget the Career Services Center, which has full time staff members who, I've found, are extremely friendly and helpful. While there I also found information on working abroad, internships and volunteer opportunities. 

Now you are ready.  I wish you best of luck, and happy travels.