Whether it’s a 9-5 law internship or just a part-time job at the supermarket, there’s a good chance that you’ll be working this summer, whether it’s with or without pay. Some of you may be excited for your summer plans; others of you may only be doing it for the money.
But no matter where or why you're working this summer, there are some lessons that you can learn from the experience, regardless of how related it is to your future career plans. Here are four tips to make your summer job worthwhile:
1. Keep networking in mind.
This is probably the most obvious tip of the bunch, but it's also incredibly important. While networking makes obvious sense for those of us doing internships in our fields, there’s something to be said about practicing networking at every summer job.
While perhaps a touristy restaurant or isn't the most obvious place to build future career connections, don't underestimate the power of getting to know your co-workers. You never know - someone might have a connection to your desired field, or may know someone who knows someone that could help you out.
But even if you don't end up scoring a killer fashion industry connection through your part-time retail job, it's still worth attempting to network there. After all, it's important to learn how to build a rapport with people you work with - any networking skills you acquire now will pay off tenfold in the future!
2. Work toward a glowing recommendation.
Sure, you might be working at an ice cream parlor, which has basically nothing to do with a career in engineering. But are you punctual? Are you friendly? Are you efficient and organized? These traits, though not items you can list on a resume, will be things your current employer will remember about you.
Why is this good? Because there are certain skills that carry over to any occupation, such as people skills and being disciplined. An employer who can sing your praises to a future employer is a valuable resource to have, regardless of what industry s/he is coming from.
3. Become innovative and leave a mark.
Let’s face it - one of the reasons why summer jobs often get a bad rap is because they’re monotonous. Folding clothes day in and day out or sweeping floors gets pretty old, pretty quickly. So to help break up this monotony and paint yourself in a good light, see if you can offer your employer constructive criticism to help your workplace run more efficiently.
Showing enthusiasm and innovation, even in the dullest of work situations, will not only help endear yourself to your employer, it’ll probably make your work experience far more enjoyable. Even if you don’t see opportunities for improvement, you can at least offer to take on more responsibility than you were originally assigned. You’ll be less bored, at the very least, and you may make an even better impression on your employer through your willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.
4. Make it a point to learn a new skill.
While it seems unlikely that you'll get much real-life career mileage out of learning how to balance five plates at once or learning to make neat and tidy corners on that folded polo, there are at least a few new things you can pick up from your summer job that will prove useful. So this summer, make it a point to learn at least one new skill!
Even if it’s as simple as learning how to make change in your head or remember food orders without a pen and pad, there are small things you can learn how to do now that could someday prove useful in a more meaningful way. At the end of the day, you should use your summer job to improve yourself - any small skill you can pick up now will likely pay off in the future.
What do you think?
Where are you working summer? Do you look forward to working there? If not, what do you do to help make your job more enjoyable and helpful? What was your favorite summer job and why? Leave me a comment and let me know!