If you go to school through the year, working in the summer is a great way to earn some cash and start padding your resume. However, competition can be fierce, so it's best to start early and look often. (For related reading,. also take a look at Internships: Find The Best One For You.)
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- Consider What Kind of Job You Want
First, consider the vital statistics of your potential job. How you are going to get there: do you have access to a car or will it need to be within walking or transit distance? Consider also the hours the job will require. If you will be relying on transit to get home, working overnight shifts or as bartender might leave you in the lurch at the end of your shift.
Second, think about the actual work you will be doing. Is it something you enjoy, or can at least tolerate for a summer? Will it be physically demanding? Will you need to be outside or inside? Which one would you prefer?
It's also important to think about the job beyond the summer. It could lead to a full-time job with that company once you graduate, or perhaps a part-time gig throughout your school year. At the very least, it could be good experience for the career you are working towards. However, you could decide that this job will simply be a paycheck for the summer, which may open up more options.
- Get Your Resume Together
Those who are still in school have their own set of challenges when it comes to resumes. You may not have as much experience to rely on, so be sure to include any volunteer work, relevant activities, awards or courses you have taken (even if you haven't finished your program). Be sure to double-check important details like dates and especially your contact information. Also, have someone else go over your resume – a fresh perspective will likely catch any errors or ways you can improve your clarity. (For more on this topic, see Top 8 Ways To Get Your Resume Thrown Out.)
- Start the Search
If you are a college student, your student center likely has resources in-person or online for summer jobs. These are great places to start because companies or individuals have come to the school, so you know they are willing to hire students. These employers may even be more accommodating around your exam schedule and when you can start and end work.
Career-specific aggregator sites such as Workopolis, Monster or JobOpenings.net can all be good places to look, but also consider field-specific websites if you know what kind of job you are after. For example, if you're after an entry-level job at a newspaper, consider JournalismJobs.com. The best way to find these sites is to search for your desired field and/or job title, or by talking to contacts in the industry or at your school.
Also, find great summer jobs by looking at websites devoted to hourly work or student-specific employment. Sites like SnagAJob.com or GrooveJob.com can help you narrow down the postings to jobs that will work for you.
- Spread the Word
The last thing you should do when job hunting is be quiet about it! Make use of the network of people you are already connected to – you never know whose sister's boyfriend's dad's company is looking to hire someone just like you. And remember, word of mouth is just as important as tweeting or posting your job needs online.
- Check Out Alternative Options
Have you ever considered traveling while you work? Programs like CCUSA (ccusa.com) offer the chance to work internationally doing everything from being a camp counselor to working in English pubs. Or perhaps you have a great idea to make money for yourself this summer. Don't miss out on business grant programs offered by local chambers of commerce, the government or local universities. In Canada, each province has programs in place to help you get your new business off the ground, such as Ontario's Young Entrepreneurs Summer Company program, which can give students between the ages of 15 and 29 up to $3,000 to start a summer business.
- Don't Get Discouraged
If you are in high school, you may be competing with college kids who are done with school earlier than you are, who are older with likely more experience and who may be able to work longer before school starts again. Don't give up! Just be proactive about finding a spot for yourself.
Just because you are in college doesn't mean you'll be guaranteed a job, either. Invest your time early to secure your summer employment – even if it means squeezing in job-search time when you are still studying for exams.
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The Bottom Line
If your search drags out – and unfortunately it might – you may find yourself looking at a job posting thinking "that sure looks familiar". Keep a running list of where you've applied to and when. This will also be very helpful if you get a callback, but can't quite remember the details of that particular job!
Finding summer work can be a bit of a chore, but it will be worth it when you have a bit of money in your pocket when school starts up again in September. (For additional reading, also check out 5 Jobs That Aren't Legal In All States.)