How to Make Some Cash Before Heading Back to School

Laura McMullen
By Laura McMullen 
Edited by Courtney Neidel

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Whether you’re going back to high school or college classes this fall, you might as well return with some extra cash. And, no, it’s not too late to find a paying gig.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 9.3 million job openings in April — that’s the most since the BLS started tracking this data more than 20 years ago. So put yourself out there and try to snag one of those positions.

Here’s how to make money this summer:

4 tips for landing a summer job

1. Create a resume

Try a resume template through Microsoft Office software, the Google Docs online word processor or a job search site like Monster.

As for the contents of that resume, it’s OK if your work experience is lean or nonexistent. Include paid gigs if you can, like babysitting, as well as unpaid work you’re proud of, says Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. For example, volunteer experiences and school projects can make the cut, she says.

2. Tap the folks you know

At this point in the summer, it may be a little late to apply for positions via job boards. Weeks of emails and interviews could go by before you secure a job.

Instead, reach out to people you know. “I can assure you that everyone has a bigger personal network than they realize,” says Nickolas Lantz, executive director for University Experiential Learning at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Make a list of teachers, parents’ friends, friends’ parents, neighbors and other people who may be in a position to hire you. They may own or manage a business, for example, or need extra help with a project.

Prepare a succinct pitch about how you're looking for a short-term, paid opportunity and that you're eager to learn. Also mention how hiring you would benefit the person you’re contacting, Lantz says. For example, ask if there are opportunities for you to help them reach their business goals.

Once you’re ready, email your contact a personalized version of this note, along with your resume. Or better yet, call. That “old-school” approach will help you stand out, Lantz says. If you don’t want to catch your contact off guard, text or email first and set up a time to jump on the phone that week.

3. Show up in person

Here’s another efficient and effective approach that takes a bit of guts: Simply walk into a place of business and chat with the manager.

“Put on some professional attire and just go out there,” Lantz says. “You gotta get out of your comfort zone.”

Introduce yourself and politely ask if there are any opportunities for you this summer. And leave your resume. If you make a good impression, Lantz says, “you can really knock out weeks of back-and-forth emails and interviewing.”

As to where to make your in-person intro, try nearby businesses you patronize or note where you’ve seen hiring signs.

If that’s no help, consider that hires increased in accommodation and food services, according to the BLS report that reflects April. Also, in May, Domino’s, Applebee’s, Wendy’s and McDonald’s, as well as Home Depot and Lowe’s, were among the top 20 companies with the most job postings in the ZipRecruiter Marketplace, according to the job-search site’s report.

4. Prepare to work and learn

Between the labor shortage, your focus on seasonal work and your direct approach to job-seeking, you may be asked to begin right away. “Start to look today and expect to start working tomorrow,” Salemi says.

Once you clock in, be open to learning as you work. Use every job as an opportunity to practice being professional and working with others. In fact, your managers and coworkers this summer can become your references and mentors later.

Track all the money you make
See the ins and outs of your cash, cards, and bank accounts at a glance.

Other ways to make money

If you’re unable or uninterested in securing an in-person job, or if you want a second way to make money this summer, consider these options.

Sell your stuff

Declutter and rake in some cash at the same time by hosting a yard or garage sale. Or sell stuff online through sites such as eBay or Shopify. If you aim to sell homemade pieces or artwork, try making money on Etsy.

Freelance online

If you’re down to park in front of the computer for a while, explore sites such as Fiverr and You may find paid opportunities for skills you’re looking to hone, such as writing, coding or managing social media accounts. If you’re younger than 18, check the age requirements of these freelance and marketplace sites before signing up.

As you scope out those sites and other online gigs, be careful with your information to avoid job scams. For example, click far, far away if asked to give your Social Security number, Salemi says. Search for user reviews of online money-making sites, as well as community forums like subreddits.

Also look for employer names within the Better Business Bureau website ( to see reviews, complaints and other company details.

Whether you earn your cash online or through an in-person job, well done. That’s one more gig to add to your resume for the next time you need to make money.