Summer jobs can be a great way for college students to gain extra experience and money. Adding a new job isn’t just for your resume — it’s a great opportunity to network, learn new skills, meet new people, and explore different career avenues in a way that won’t tether you to that career path for good.
There are, however, a number of assumptions that you shouldn’t make regarding college summer jobs. These assumptions are not only in regards to what you should apply for, but also how you think about different types of summer jobs.
Here are eight of the worst assumptions college students often make:
“A summer job must match my career path.”
The final two years of college be so heavily geared towards major-related classes that students try to find jobs which only pertain to their intended career path. While summer jobs can be a great introduction to your field of choice, it does not always mean that what you want to do is the field that you will do best in.
Furthermore, knowing what to do with a degree within a certain industry can be difficult and it can take time to weed out jobs that aren’t enjoyable, or find a job that might not have originally been of interest. For example, if you had wanted to be a lab technician and graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry, taking an administrative job at a pharmaceutical company one summer and one with an environmental preservation company the next could provide insight into what type of field is best suited to fulfill your passion for chemistry.
“Working in service or retail won’t get me anywhere.”
No matter where a student lives or goes to school there will always be a demand for service (food and hospitality) and retail employees. While these jobs might seem menial once a degree is achieved, jobs like these can provide opportunities to learn soft skills that will provide value as an employee. Building customer relationships, understanding communication nuances, and how to work on a team are all examples of things to be learned from service and retail positions.
When you put these on your resume — and when you’re working there — focus on customer relationship and leadership skills. These are key to almost any future job.
“My hobby can’t be my work.”
This assumption in particular can be detrimental to finding an avenue of work that is a good fit for the skills learned during college. For example, if you love video games but received your degree in biology or physiology, you might be able to work in the industry with a team of artists to assist in crafting realistic characters.
“If I don’t hear back I didn’t get the job.”
With such an influx of applicants for summer jobs, hiring managers and Human Resource departments can be overwhelmed with sifting through candidate resumes and interviews. Show initiative by following up and sending emails to see if employers received all application materials, and have patience. For short term or seasonal jobs, utilizing the resources of a staffing agency can be a good way to get both a quick response and a good temporary job.
Money = happiness
Everyone’s heard the saying that money doesn’t buy happiness (or love), and it can be particularly true of summer jobs. While wage and salary are important, be sure to choose the job over the paycheck. After all, it’s the work being done that earns the paycheck. Getting a feel for wages during summer months in an industry of interest can also show what might be earned if that’s the career direction you want to take.
“Volunteering. What’s the point?”
On many counts, this is an incorrect assumption. Volunteering for any amount of time in any capacity is a great way to give, learn, network, and find out what types of jobs and callings suite a person. Noting volunteer experience on a resume for later employment opportunities also shows employers a willingness to do something good for the community without an expected return, demonstrates your leadership ability, and creates relationships that can lead to job recommendations or referrals.
“I can apply when summer is here.”
For anyone looking for a summer job, but particularly for college students looking for a foot in the door, waiting until the last minute to apply can be a big mistake. Both local and out-of-state students are competing with a large pool of candidates for a select number of seasonal jobs. You should have all your application materials ready and be researching companies of interest in the winter. Ask around then if anyone will be hiring for the summer months. Being early is especially important if you are returning home for the summer from out-of-state. You’ll need a head start so interviews can be conducted over the phone or via video chat well before that job you really wanted is gone.
“I don’t need a resume for a summer job.”
Always, always provide a polished resume. In an age of online profiles, having a well-done document showing your previous experience, skills and education gives potential employers a thorough picture of who you are — even if your experience is limited. Plus, having a resume ready makes it easy to add that upcoming summer job!
If you’re a college student looking for the perfect summer job, partnering with a professional staffing agency like Innovative Career Resources can be a valuable tool in finding an enjoyable job and possibly a new career path. Innovative serves the Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside and San Bernardino counties in the science, engineering, technical, healthcare, finance, accounting and administrative professions. Whether you’re looking for a seasonal, temporary contract, direct-hire, or contract-to-hire position, Innovative’s network of leading industry companies is sure to have the opportunity you’ve been searching for. If you’re an employer seeking seasonal or temporary employees on a contract basis or direct-hire basis, contact Innovative today and find out how the best talent in Southern California can join your team!