Biz Tips: Six Ways to Turn a Summer Gig into a Small Business

Summertime signifies that long-anticipated break between school years when tens of thousands of university students hit the pavement looking for seasonal employment. Traditionally, summer-job seekers were relegated to mundane opportunities such as babysitting or house painting, with a lucky few obtaining high-profile corporate internships. As the ongoing trend in entrepreneurism increases however, there are far more avenues to pursue — not only for summer work, but also for something more substantial.

Hungry go-getters are brainstorming ways to expand their summertime jobs into viable start-up ventures, and enter into the small business owner/operator demographic. Here are six tips for taking your summer gig to the next level, and parlaying it into a successful year-round business opportunity:

1. What are your unique skills?

The first and most important part of capitalizing on your summer employment is to identify your specific skillsets. What is it that you do best? How can that talent be marketed? If you’re into fitness and working at a gym for the summer, explore opportunities as a physical trainer. Perhaps you’re helping at an informational booth, and could move into the tour guide trade. Take stock of yourself and market your best skills to those in need.

2. Seasonal transitions.

Whatever you find yourself doing this summer, look for commonality between seasonal work and full-time employment. Think about obvious segues initially, then consider options that are outside the box. Working as a camp counselor could provide the perfect entry point into employment with the local Forestry Service. A standard lifeguard job might transition nicely into an elementary school swimming coach. For those fortunate enough to score a financial services intern position, becoming an independent day trader is not out of the realm of possibility. Look for the logical expansion point from your summer work into something more.

3. Market and promote yourself for longevity.

Heading back to school in September doesn’t mean your summer tutoring schedule must end. Blanket college campuses with offerings of tutorial services, and consider everything from essay writing to test prep. No college or university is lacking in students looking for academic support, and your scholastic prowess could lead to a lucrative small business on your own campus, and others in the vicinity. Even if you have just graduated, your skills as a tutor can include local high schools as well.

4. Hey, creatives! Think of Etsy as an avenue.

For those creative souls, a perfect small business opportunity comes via Etsy. From painting to sewing to sculpture and beyond, Etsy retailers offer a wide array of handcrafted products, and an easy access point into entrepreneurism. If your summer consists of being artistic, Etsy may be the answer for your future pursuits.

5. Courier Dispatch: 21st Century Style.

For the big city folks only, a summer job as a bike messenger can pay sizable dividends in the future. Hard as it may be to believe, not every document can be scanned, emailed, or faxed. Some items actually need to be hard copy format, and get from Point A to Point B at reasonable cost and within a specific time frame. Messenger work doesn’t stop when autumn arrives, and if you’re fast on two wheels and reliable, you might find a demanding clientele needing their parcels delivered ASAP.

6. Put your technical know-how to good use.

There has never been a time when so many businesses are in need of affordable tech consulting. Similarly, now more than ever before, the collective tech savvy possessed by the college crowd is at its most sophisticated. If your summer job entails performing anything from website design to social media marketing, you are in a phenomenal position to become a tech-oriented start-up. The current generation of university students takes for granted the technology it has grown up with, and thusly has a tremendous scope of expertise to share.


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  • I would love to see something like this weekly. I live alone, so it’s easy to get into food and fitness ruts—every once in a while, I need ideas to boost me out of it! (Like that chicken and zucchini pasta—yes, please!)Just went grocery shopping, and I’m planning on making southwestern chicken burgers with baked sweet potato fries, as well as a bean/rice/veggie stir fry for dinners. I’m also going to get in one long run this week, at least two weight sessions, and a kickboxing class (in addition to my usual cardio routines)!

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