Summer jobs pay off

(Graphic by Stephanie Truong)

(Graphic by Stephanie Truong)

Despite the snow on the ground and the nip in the air, this is the time to begin looking for summer employment, especially if you’re looking for something beyond the standard retail or waitress fare.
As university students, we can no longer get away with being jobless. Perhaps some managed to spend their entire high school careers lazing the summer away, but high school is over.

Even if not a penny towards school is coming out of your pocket, every university student should be striving for a summer job. Let’s not kid ourselves, a key reason for a summer job is money. Tuition, rent, food, toilet paper, drunken Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights—it all adds up and for many of us a summer job is the best way to pay for the rest of our year.

Here’s where the benefits of a summer job move beyond monetary. Experience is worth its weight in gold and is the heart of summer work. Experience comes in many forms and can be sneaky in its appearances. Sometimes experience is obvious. When you land the dream first job that teaches you all the skills you need experience is easy to quantify.
This is as important to students as money, filling in the resume with experiences. Any job that teaches ‘practical’ or ‘hard’ skills, the kind that are easily written on a resume, is considered a future career win.

Employers are not impressed by you spending the summer at the beach, no matter what degree accompanies it. They want to see that you have significant Excel skills or “assisted in the production of…”
These jobs might not be directly related to your future career plans but they certainly can’t hurt them.

But what if you didn’t get the dream job and have a simple customer service one that appears to do nothing more than pay the bills?

Most future employers are not likely to be impressed by statements like “waited tables really fast without spilling anything,” but there’s truth to everyone spending time working a customer service job.
Never underestimate the “soft” skills. There’s rarely a job that doesn’t require communication skills or multi-tasking.

Speaking from experience, more can be learned from that annoying, angry customer than from any class. Even if you can’t put it on your resume, learning to be patient is never a bad thing.
The other great thing you can achieve from a summer job is contacts. In today’s job hunt with its gloom and doom, having friends is more important than the average person would like it to be.

You can no longer rely on one manager to know you, but need as many people as possible to know your name. Unfortunately, in this job market sometimes even the most qualified student finds themselves jobless.

For students with little or no work experience, the job search can be overwhelming. There are options, however, the first of which is to volunteer. Volunteer experience is just as good on the resume as paid work, better if the volunteer work is in your desired field.
However, with no money made this can cause a problem when the bills are due. In this case an unconventional job should suit the bill.

Be your own boss. Start your own business. This can be as simple as finding a lawnmower and knocking on doors to cut grass.
The internet is a playground of random jobs. Take ten surveys, write freelance or answer ads. Make this summer work for you and your goals.

The job hunt starts now. Apply to those internships and assistant jobs now when they first come up. You’ll get valuable experience and won’t have to spend your early summer in a panic over half-made resumes and cover letters.

letters@thecord.ca

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