Breana Cooper, 25, has been a lifeguard for 7 years

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If you or someone you know is a teenager looking for work in Philadelphia, the city offers a lot of options. Summer employment can be a great way to pick up new skills, develop what you already know, and put a few dollars in your pocket.

In 2021, more teens across the nation had summer jobs than any year since 2008, and programs in Philadelphia saw a rebound from the decline that occured in 2020.

Plenty of year-round, entry-level jobs exist in fast food and retail, and while those positions can sometimes provide more hours or higher wages than summer-specific programming, there are reasons to go a different route.

For younger high schoolers, summer programs can provide a space to gain hands-on knowledge in different fields of work. In your later years and looking to apply to college? These jobs are great resume boosters, with work crafted around personal growth and networking opportunities. They’re also a way to reduce the risk of being involved in violence.

Here’s a look at several jobs that can offer Philly residents 14 and older a good wage and great experience.

Run your block’s free meal and games program

Play Streets is the program that closes off designated blocks in neighborhoods around the city so kids can use them for recreation. It’s also part of Parks & Rec’s free summer meal program, where lunches and snacks are handed out.

Teens 15 to 19 can contact Fab Youth Philly to become Play Captains, who help in educational roles, supervising and facilitating activities.

In 2020, Play Captains also began working at playgrounds and parks, where they “play tag, basketball, hot-hot-cold, read books together and make crafts.” The job pays $11 hourly — and if an application is completed before April, you can receive a $150 signing bonus.

Become a lifeguard and help people cool off

This is a constant need, and an important one — because without lifeguards, Philly pools can’t open! Last summer, the city wanted 400+ lifeguards to staff the public pools, but only about 200 were hired, and 22 pools remained unopened through the summer.

For enterprising strong swimmers, that’s your cue. Parks & Rec is currently looking for people 16 or older to work as lifeguards for roughly 35 hours a week from June to August, with a starting salary of $15.25.

Swimming tests and American Red Cross certification are needed to get started as a guard, but certification is free for people aged 16 to 24.

Immerse yourself in culture

This opportunity, specifically for rising seniors in the public school system, is all about learning the ins and outs of cultural institutions in Philly. A partnership between museums, theaters, and historic sites, the Bloomberg Arts Internship pays young people $14.47 an hour to work and attend programming.

The internship has 60 spots, runs from June 21 to Aug. 12, and has a quickly approaching deadline for applications, which are considered on a rolling basis: you must apply by April 30.

The program now offers school year internships too — seven people in the summer program will get paid to continue working at their designated site through the 2022-23 academic year.

Join the staff at a rec center

Parks and Recreation is also employing young adults to serve as assistants at recreation centers around the city. The process starts by reaching out to the supervisor at the site where you’d like to work, and then going through a few steps to make sure you’re eligible.

Once you do that, and receive a code, you can apply on the WorkReady site. There are two options:

  • The Junior Program, for people 14 to 18 years old, offers 20 hours a week of work, at $11 an hour from July 5 to Aug. 12.
  • The Senior Program is for people 19 to 24, offers 35 hours a week, and lasts two weeks longer: from July 5 through Aug. 26.

Choose your own adventure with WorkReady Philadelphia

WorkReady is where you’ll find a ton of other possibilities. The local summer employment hub is getting ready to kick off its 19th annual program, aiming to employ up to 8,000 young people.

There’s a job locator that includes details on potential summer gigs. The program has been taking applications since February — as an added perk, the first 5,000 applicants will receive $150 — and here are a few of the jobs listed:

  • Federation Of Neighborhood Centers Summer Internship — Connects participants with internships in fields of interest, including culinary, artistic, and entrepreneurial training opportunities.
  • The Independence Seaport Museum — This program at the Penn’s Landing institution sets young people up to lead public citizen science programs and involves daily water testing. A good look for any interested in how waterways shape our lives.
  • Project HOME’s Teen & College Access Program — Project HOME has a summer internship that “offer electives including robotics, film & photography, digital music, and college access preparation.”

Jordan Levy is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn, always aiming to help Philadelphians share their stories. Formerly, he has worked at Document Journal, n+1 Magazine, and The New Republic. He...