Ask Yourself These Questions Before Applying for a Summer Job

If you're a student, you're probably aware that summer break offers a key opportunity to earn money, get some working experience, and meet interesting new people who could become lifelong friends. But don't just take any old summer job. Instead, ask yourself these questions first to find the right opportunity for you.

1. What am I looking to gain from it?

For most people, the primary motivator behind a summer job is the ability to earn money. But maybe you don't need to settle for a paycheck alone. The right summer gig could give you the experience you need to land a great full-time role once you graduate from your studies, so to this end, think about the field you're interested in and explore opportunities that might align with it. For example, if you really want to go into marketing, you might see if a local business has an opening for a seasonal-promotions person on its team.

Young female adult in apron taking notes on pad


2. Is my resume up to date?

Because summer jobs are temporary in nature, it's easy not to take the application process so seriously. But if you want to land a better gig, invest a little time into updating your resume before applying. It could end up scoring you a higher hourly wage or a better opportunity.

3. Am I comfortable going on interviews?

You don't necessarily need to put on a business suit to apply for a job scooping ice cream at a local shop or taking tickets at a nearby amusement park. But you do need to get comfortable with the idea of being interviewed, so if you aren't, spend a little time practicing. Enlist the help of a friend who can do a couple of mock interviews with you, and prepare to talk up the qualities that make you a solid employee, like your attention to detail or track record of being responsible.

4. Are my summer plans set in stone?

Many seasonal employers want a commitment for the entire summer. If you can't give one because your personal plans are still up in the air -- say, your parents aren't sure when you'll be taking your annual family vacation -- be honest about that upfront. If you start a job only to spring a sudden time-off request on your manager, your boss may not take kindly to it.

5. Am I looking for a job I can return to year after year?

Many businesses require seasonal help every summer. If you're a college freshman whose summer plans are pretty predictable for the next few years, you may want to focus your search on businesses that have been around for a long time and are likely to have you back if you do a good job. For example, there may be a trendy new cafe in town looking for summertime servers, but if you want to secure a longer-term relationship, you're probably better off applying for a position at the restaurant that's been a town staple for 20 years.

There are plenty of good reasons to get a job this summer. Just be sure to put a little thought into the application process so you wind up satisfied with the one you land.

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