Get the most out of your summer job

If you’ve chosen to work for the summer rather than take an unpaid internship, don’t think that your summertime employment has to be completely left off your future resumes. With some planning, creativity and a proactive attitude, you can turn your summer job into a career-building experience. Here are a few tips:

  1. Identify the skills you want to develop – skills that you don’t already have or would like to master.
  2. Determine which of these skills might be acquired or honed during your summer job. Try to think outside the box, or at least outside the job description. For example, imagine that you are interested in a career in public relations and know you need to shore up on your public speaking skills, but your summer job is as a ride attendant at a fair where you’ve worked for the past two summers. You might consider gaining public speaking skills by getting involved in training groups of new staff. Here’s another example: you work for your local parks and recreation department weeding and planting, but you’d like to develop stronger organizational skills. You might consider volunteering to inventory the department’s equipment and supplies. You could also go out of your way to create a spreadsheet that the department can use to keep their inventory in order.
  3. Once you know the skills you would like to acquire and have an idea of a way you might acquire them through the job, approach your supervisor. Many supervisors would be thrilled if you approach them requesting more responsibility – provided that the work for which you have been hired to do will still be done, and the new responsibility will benefit the organization.
  4. Document all the work you do over the summer, paying particularly close attention to the added responsibilities you’ve accepted and the new skills you’ve developed.
  5. Add the new experience to your resume, and in preparation for future interviews, become comfortable describing in proactive terms the way you acquired your new skills.

You may be thinking, this sounds like a lot of extra work! You’re right! But, by demonstrating your willingness to go the extra mile, and by creatively developing different ways to gain new skills and experiences, your hard work will be noticed by both your summer and prospective employers.

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