How to ruin the best season of the year
If you’re like most college students, by the time the spring session of exams rolls around, you’re down to your last few pennies. As soon as summer begins, there are only two things to do: celebrate your freedom and then kiss it goodbye by starting a summer job. After all, you need to be able to afford to go back to school in the fall.
Though you might prefer to spend your summer lounging in the warm sun, summer jobs don’t have to be an unpleasant experience. They can be a great opportunity for college students to have some fun, gain valuable work experience and earn some decent money.
Finding a Summer Job
In order to make the most of your summer job experience, you first need to go out and find a place that will employ you. Competition for jobs can be fierce with so many students finishing exams and trying to start work at the same time every spring. You can never begin your job search too soon. Some of the best summer jobs have an application deadline of January or February. Don’t delay or you could miss out. Have an up-to-date resume and cover letter ready to go at all times.
If you spend your summers in the same city where you go to college, go to your school’s career services office and ask if they have summer job postings. If you move back to your hometown over the summer, get your parents to send you a local newspaper and look through the classified section for places that are hiring (some companies will even mention in their ad if they hire students for summer positions). Also, don’t forget to ask your friends and family if they know of any places that are hiring. Use your personal network.
In order to find the summer job that’s best for you, make sure you think about the following things:
- Indoors or outdoors? Do you want to work in a climate-controlled office, or would you rather be out in the sunshine?
- Working hours. Do you want to work a regular nine-to-five schedule, or would you prefer to have flexible hours?
- Safety first. Unfortunately, many of the most common summer jobs for college students are among the most dangerous jobs in America. Some jobs - for example, landscaping, construction, agricultural field work, painting and window cleaning - put students at risk of physical injury because of the dangerous equipment that’s used (power tools, ladders, etc.). Jobs that require you to work alone at night, like security guards and gas station attendants, put you at risk of mugging and assault.
- Career potential. If you can do it, it’s a good idea to find a summer job that has some relevance to what you are studying in college. Summer jobs can help you discover possible career paths and meet contacts who may be interested in hiring you for a permanent position after you graduate.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a job right away. Not every place that hires summer students places an ad in the newspaper or makes a formal announcement. Some of the best companies wait for students to come to them. If there’s a place you want to work, call them up and ask if they would consider hiring you. Even if they don’t normally hire students in the summer, point out the skills that you’d be able to offer.
If you still can’t find a job, go sign up at a temp agency. You’ll have to sacrifice some job security, but you won’t get bored being stuck in the same job all summer.
Get a Reference
At the end of the summer, ask your employer for a reference letter. It may be useful in the future when you are looking for a part-time job or another summer job. It may also help you get hired full time after you graduate.