Need a little extra cash? Want to get a jump on a career? It’s summer job time, and what you do over your break matters. But it can be tough to figure out what kind of job to look for, much less how to land one that pays well and gives you a leg up. Luckily, we’ve done the dirty work and uncovered tips to get you well on your way to the perfect gig.
Before you answer that “lifeguards wanted” ad, consider whether you want just a paycheck or experience toward your dream job. If you think you want to be a journalist, find out if your local newspaper or radio station needs an assistant. You might even get to write a story or two by summer’s end. Internships and volunteer positions also can be a great way to get experience. Volunteer in a hospital or senior home if you think a career in healthcare is in your future. Even though you won’t be in on the ER action, an internship in a relevant field will give you a glimpse of what it’s really like to work in a given profession. Plus, if you do good work as a summer intern, you might even be able to score a paying job next summer.
So you don’t know what you want to do next weekend let alone for the rest of your life. No worries. You’ll get something out of nearly any job you choose, and you may even figure out a career plan. For instance, if you take that lifeguard job, you’ll learn how to be responsible for public safety and how to stay focused while on duty. You might also find out that you like working with kids. A job at a clothing store, especially if you work on commission, will teach you how to interact with others and sell a product and might put you toward a business career. If you want to get leadership or public speaking skills, a job as a camp counselor might be just the thing—and who knows, it could be the training ground for becoming a company CEO.
Once you settle on where you want to work, the next step is to apply. When you pick up job applications, dress appropriately (think a skirt and blouse or khakis and a collared shirt) and ask to see the manager. As you fill out the application (neatly), describe your past job experience in a way that really sells. Don’t just write down “sales clerk” and the name of the store, list what you actually did. For example, “responsible for closing store and tallying the day’s sales” would showcase your responsibilities. For some jobs, you may have to put together a résumé, and often you’ll have to go through an interview. If you’re not sure how, ask for help from an older sibling or friend who has experience with résumés and interviews. Before you arrive at the interview, do a little research first so you can impress your prospective employer with your knowledge of their business or industry.
Looking to land the perfect summer gig? These websites will help with everything from finding a job to mastering the interview.