How a Great Summer Job Can Benefit You

I know for a fact that my summer job helped me land a permanent position upon graduation (I was told so at the end of the interview).  It also helped me get through school without any debt, which as any recent graduate can tell you is a pretty cool accomplishment.  When I conveyed the importance of a summer job to my little brother (just finished his second year of university studies) he started getting a resume together and building a network he could use.  The end result is that he now has a summer job that pays him a ridiculous amount of money and will look great on his resume.  Summer jobs can be minimum wage labourer positions that are tedious chores where you watch the clock all day (I did my fair share of these all through high school); or, you can do something that is interesting and allows you live more than a subsistence lifestyle as you go through school.

Money…Some People Got To Have It…

Last week I wrote an article about the amount of money I likely spent on alcohol while going through university.  The only way I can justify this is that I didn’t go into debt to do it.  This was largely because of my summer job.  My summer job wasn’t the usual, I got to wear a badge, carry pepper spray and call myself a “SBSO”.  This stands for Student Border Services Officer.  Back in the summer of 2006 I started at $11.30 an hour, which in hindsight was pretty low considering I had some limited powers of arrest!  We got a substantial pay bump midway through my second season and by my last summer I was at almost $20.00 per hour.  The pay was probably the least of the benefits my job gave me however.

Anytime You Get To Wear a Bulletproof Vest To Work, That’s Pretty Cool

As an 18 year old being trusted to let people into Canada I was deathly scared my first summer.  I learned many tough lessons about working with the public, and picked up many useful bits of knowledge concerning the law and how law enforcement agencies interact.  I also got to see the inner workings of a professional staff and just how complex they can be.   I was introduced daily to people from absolutely all walks of life and was counted on in some pretty high-stress situations.  Unfortunately, I was also introduced to the “semi-controlled chaos” of bureaucratic paperwork, but even those abilities have served me well.   These skills helped prepare me for really any career path I wanted when I graduated.  The huge variety of situations that were a daily occurrence forced me to grow and learn in ways I never could have otherwise and I emerged as a stronger employee and more confident (yet humble) person at the same time.  Of course, the downside was occasionally enforcing laws that were not popular, dealing with some abuse from co-workers (low man on the totem pole systemic abuse) and the public.  I was occasionally somewhat stressed out, but that is still a great deal.  Plus, I got some pretty cool stories to tell my buddies about when we got back to school (and the occasional young lady I was looking to make a good impression on).

And Then My Little Brother One-Upped Me…

My little brother has decided he likely wants to go into some sort of firefighting or law enforcement gig after getting a basic university degree (pARTy major).  He had worked in high school with the rural green team, so had some connections in that area.  For those of you that aren’t familiar, rural green teams basically do all of the grass cutting, de-limbing, painting and other classic “summer job” chores that you see young people doing every summer.  Early on in his first semester at university I encouraged him to look around and put him in touch with a friend of mine who had done some forest firefighting.  The little bro got his applications out, made some calls, took some first aid courses, and did brilliantly on the fitness test.  He now has a job essentially locked up for the rest of his university “career” where he makes crazy cash $20,000+ every summer, gets to start as soon as his exams end, gives him great on-the-job experience, builds valuable industry connections, and “hits a home run” on his resume.  That is an unbelievable value for a summer job, and best of all, he loves it.

Putting In The Effort To Find A Great Summer Job Is Worth It!

When I went in for the interview which got me a permanent teaching position the principal immediately asked about my Border Services experience.  My boss had given me a great reference and could speak to specific skills that I would use in my new job.  Cutting lawn over the summer would not have given me this advantage.  Both the superintendent and the principal proclaimed right in the interview that anyone can look good through an hour of questioning, but the fact that I had handled myself well as a young adult in a high-stress, high-expectations work environement reflected very well on me as a potential employee.  I imagine my brother and several of my other friends will have similar experiences in their interviews as they enter the workforce.  Summer jobs can really be the difference between catching on some where after graduating, or even getting an interview, and being on the sidelines in a pretty competitive economy.  Check out my post on tips to land a great summer job if you want to enjoy this advantage as well!


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