One of the key considerations for any student’s finances is the classic summer job. A great summer job can set you up for a stress-free year at school where money is not a pressing issue every single day. A poor summer job can mean dealing with crazy student loan bureaucracy and trying to balance part-time work along with a heavy course load. I personally have a pretty good track record with summer jobs as I worked at the border as a Student Border Officer (details forthcoming in another post). Here are 7 pointers that could possibly land you one of those enviable fat summer job pay cheques.
1) Start Looking Early
Why is it that most students feel the need to procrastinate everything? It drives me crazy! When students think that a great summer job will just fall into their lap at the end of April (the same time everyone else is looking for one), so they are not going to think about it until then, it reminds me of an ostrich sticking its head in the ground thinking no one can see it. These are usually the same people that end up complaining that school costs too much, universities are evil for making a profit, and the government should be paying them to go to school. To land a great summer job you have to starting looking early. November is not too early. The summer before is not too early. There is no too early!! The more groundwork you are able to put in place early in the school year, the better your chances will be come April and May.
2) Keep An Open Mind
Don’t dismiss whole niches or jobs without looking into them a little. So many people see a job posted like, “Garbage Collector” or the “Pro Painter” ads and immediately dismiss it as being ‘beneath’ them. I’ll never understand this logic. You are an entry level employee, don’t have preconceived notions about what you are ‘above’ doing! Often these jobs that not a lot of people want have decent paycheques attached.
3) Be Willing To Travel
Perhaps the single most important factor I have seen in consistently getting good-paying summer jobs is that they often occur far from urban centres. I am a rural kid, so for me this wasn’t a big deal, but for a lot of students leaving their friends and home for a few months is extremely intimidating. Try to see it as an opportunity, think of all the exotic stories you will have when you get back! Most of the jobs I’ve gotten in my life have been at least partially because I was willing to work in a rural environment. Whether it’s a government position planting trees, or a geological surveying job, rural jobs pay to get you out there, and it’s really not that bad, I promise.
4) Cast a Wide Net
When you start looking for summer jobs (repeat after me: “Never Too Early”) don’t just Google it and look at the first page. The internet is a great resource, but it is limited in terms of the personal connection that can often be the key to getting you a job. Let your friends and relatives know you are looking for a job and have an open mind. Often a softly spoken word here or there can be enough to land you the gig.
5) Ingratiate Yourself Before Summer Comes
Whether you intern, volunteer, or work park time at a potential employer’s business after the first semester, just getting your face in the work place and showing some initiative will separate you from the pack. Don’t be a nuisance, but offer to get your training done early (or something similar) so that you could hit the ground running as soon as school was done. Offering to shadow someone on weekends is another good way to get your foot in the door.
6) Read Our Resume Strategies and Interview Tips Articles
These articles were put together as a result of exhausting job searches for us at My University Money. The fact we both have pretty good jobs, in fairly competitive fields at the moment signifies that the strategies do work. The articles walk you through each step of landing a job, from the application process to the ‘thank you’ call back.
7) Create Your Own Position For Your Summer Job
If you don’t like what’s out there, summon your inner entrepreneurial spirit and make something happen for yourself. I’ve seen several self-made landscapers do quite well for themselves. This past year I took the initiative at a boxing gym where I had trained for a few years to ask if they would be open to having a summer position to do youth programming if I got government funding for it. The management there basically said, show us a proposal and the potential funding (“Show me the money!” – Love Jerry Maguire). I dressed up the program a little, mentioned I had an B.Ed degree, and got approved by Urban Green Team (government funding). The guys who run the gym were so impressed they topped up my wages so that I was making roughly 15 dollars an hour, which I thought was great for teaching kids how to box! Even more rewarding was the fact I got to build my program from the ground up, and leave detailed instructions behind so that the program can continue to grow. Making your own way is really not that hard, it just takes a little creativity and verve.