We had the opportunity to interview Annie Favreau of InsideJobs.com to find out how high school and college students can get the most out of summer employment.
SC: Aside from summer camps and retail, what are some other popular summer jobs for college students?
AF: Some of the best summer jobs can be found at your college or university. For example, you could work in the dorms as a resident assistant, or help troubleshoot computers as an IT tech. If you’re more of an outdoorsy type, you could join a landscaping crew. It’s tough work, but you’ll spend the summer in the sunshine. Another option that will get you on your feet is working as a nanny. No matter what you choose, a summer job can be a great way to get some experience and earn some cash.
SC: What are the pros and cons of taking summer jobs vs. internships?
AF: Aside from a part-time job, you might also consider an internship. While many internships are unpaid (which can be a deal-breaker), interns are often given more responsibilities than entry-level workers in retail or a similar area. Plus, many industries don’t offer short-term summer jobs, so an internship is one of the only ways to get in the door. Because of this, internships are often the best way to get first-hand experience of a working industry.
SC: How can college students ensure their summer jobs have a positive impact on their longer term career goals?
AF: During a summer job, you can pick up general skills that will serve you in any career. For example, if you’re working in retail this summer, you can develop great customer service skills. Knowing how to smoothly handle customer complaints can help you in industries ranging from business to healthcare.
Summer jobs can also be a great way to explore careers. Make connections with people working in all areas of your company and ask them about their professional experiences. Most people are very happy to share their stories and advice, so act like a sponge and take it all in!
SC: How should a student deal with a negative summer job experience?
AF: It’s tough to get stuck in a negative summer job. But you can make the best of the situation by identifying which areas of your summer job you don’t enjoy and which you do. Do you love being part of a team, rather than working on your own? Are you more of a big picture than detail oriented? Learning these things about yourself can help you find future work situations that are a good fit for you.
SC: What’s the best way to get strong recommendations from summer employment supervisors?
AF: The best way to ensure a strong recommendation is to go the extra mile during the job. Even if you’re doing small tasks—like typing up a schedule—make sure it’s the best schedule you can possibly create. Doing small jobs well shows your potential for bigger responsibilities. Near the end of the job, ask your supervisor: “Can you write me a strong recommendation?” If they say yes, be sure to thank them for their time!
SC: How can students go about turning summer employment into longer-term opportunities (i.e. internships or full time employment)?
AF: Summertime jobs can be a great way to get your foot in the door. However, even if your company isn’t hiring, you can still use your connections there to find long-term opportunities. Let your supervisors and co-workers know that you’re looking for full time employment, then follow up on any leads that come your way. Don’t be afraid to talk to any and all people—you never know which connections will pay off in the long run.
Good luck with your summer job!
Annie Favreau works for InsideJobs.com, a site that helps young people explore career choices and build successful futures.