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Make Your Summer Job Count

For most college students, summer employment is a must. The need to earn money for college tuition, living expenses, books and spending money throughout the school year leads most students to frantically scour the help wanted ads.

I worked as a camp counselor, a lifeguard, and as a swim instructor. My favorite summer job was as a lifeguard. I made a lot of money, got a great tan and was at the beach all day. I also saved people from drowning (a plus in the karma category!). But the one thing I didn’t do was think about how my summer employment could affect my future job search. Looking back, I should have been more selective about my summer employment since any job is a building block for future employment.

Here are three tips for finding a summer job that will not only earn some much needed cash, but will also serve to enhance your resume for future full time employment when you graduate:

Get a job in your field.

Summer jobs and summer internships are a great way to make contact with future employers. If you show you are a reliable, intelligent, and hard working employee during the summer months, many employers will take you on full-time after you graduate. If you want to go to law school, try to get an internship or part-time job at a law firm for the summer. Even if you are working as an office temp or in the mail room you will make some good contacts that can lead to something bigger later on.

Remember the resume!

When you graduate from college and start looking for full-time employment, your resume is the first thing prospective employers see. Make sure that the summer jobs you have during college work as resume builders.

Take time to build your resume while you are still working. Write down the job description and all of the responsibilities you have while they are fresh in your mind. Ask your employer for a copy of your job description. At the end of the summer be sure to get contact information for at least one reference you can keep on file for future employment.

Target companies you are interested in working for.

Whether you have declared a major or are still considering your options, a summer job or internship is a great way to find out what you want (or don’t want) to do in the future. If you think you might be interested in online marketing, research companies in your area that specialize in online marketing.

Make contact with companies that interest you and inquire as to what is available for summer employment. Many companies don’t advertise for part-time or seasonal positions, so you’ll have to take the lead. More often than not, prospective summer employers will be impressed with your initiative and you will find out if the profession you think you want is right for you!

What about you? Are you working a summer job that you hope will launch your full-time career? Or did you do just that?

Are you working for the summer? Check back each day this week for more on summer employment.

Published or updated on June 1, 2010

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  1. When evaluating potential opportunities, don’t worry about the pay. That’s one of the least important things. Instead figure out what kind of experience you would get working at the company.

  2. David Weliver says:

    I was pretty fortunate to land two *paid* summer internships with magazines my sophomore and junior years of college, one of which lead directly to my first full-time job.

    Those experiences definitely gave me a leg up on my classmates when it came time to hunt for jobs after graduation.

  3. Honey says:

    My very first job ever was a full-time internship for a daily newspaper between my freshmen and sophomore years of college. Every other summer, I worked as a tutor for a variety of different university entities (I went on to get a PhD in English and taught undergrads for 6 or 7 years, so this made sense for me). Now I work in a full-time administrative position at a university.

    I held a restaurant job off and on for a lotta years, too, but it was always a second job and I never put it on my resume.

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