I know how it feels to be a university or college student with debt piling up. Money is tight. Your friends keep inviting you to things but you’re too broke to attend, the endless list of “a want not a need” items that you can not afford to buy, and the constant scrapping of change to buy yourself a coffee so you can make it through one more class.
But now spring is here and you are eagerly looking at job postings trying to find a summer job that will not only provide lots of hours but will also offer a high wage. Here’s the thing, these high paying full-time jobs may not be the best option for you. Yes they will help your wallet with some spending money and maybe pay off a little debt and yes these things are important, but the time you put in to work during these early years is better spent beefing up your resume. Building a solid resume early in your career will provide huge benefits once you are out of school and begin looking for a full time position. You can do this by applying for jobs or internships that best suits your future career plans and not what will provide temporary riches. The pay may be low but it will benefit you so much more in the long run.
Here are a few ways you can find that summer job or internship that suits your career goals.
This is an obvious one but should still be mentioned, a quick and efficient way to find something for the summer is to look online at current job postings. Companies will often post these student positions on their company websites or job search sites. Apply for these just as you would any other job. But the trick here is to stay focused. Try to be attentive to the positions that will help build your resume.
Networking is key to achieving many career goals. In some cases, the connections you make when you first start out in your career will literally follow you through to retirement. So how can you network successfully? One way is to join groups and professional associations. There are many organizations that you can join as a student which can keep you connected and up to date on the latest news and events in your industry, including networking events and job availability. For example, if you are studying to be a dietitian, in Canada there is an association called Dietitians of Canada. This association has an option for students to register at a much lower cost but still reap most of the benefits. Simply being a member looks good on a resume, let alone all the benefits that come with joining the group.
Another way to network is to become familiar with your instructors. Not only can they potentially be a great reference for you, but often they hold contacts to key people in different companies or organizations that may be looking for recommendations for students to fill summer positions or internships. Every once in a while take the time to talk to your instructor after class. Ask questions about the lecture or share your thoughts. Also, it seems obvious, but work hard on your grades. As a daughter of a university professor I can honestly tell you that professors, teachers or instructors, will often remember those who do well in their class and turn in high quality work.
Use online networking sites such as LinkedIn to form connections. Although traditional networking events are still the ideal way to form professional relationships, a little time online can be leveraged to great effect.
Attending career or job fairs can be hugely beneficial for job hunting whether it be for a temporary summer position or a permanent position. This is a great way to make an in-person connection. Meeting someone face to face builds trust and respect much quicker than connecting online. It offers the chance to present yourself to multiple key representatives from potential employers in a short period of time. These representatives will often play integral roles throughout the hiring process. Connecting with these people will help to establish a personal connection which will round off your resume and cover letter. Mention your meeting in the cover letter or call them by name. Simply reminding the recruiter of your face-to-face meeting will likely put you above other applicants.
Contact Potential Employers Directly
Call or email different companies or organizations within your industry and ask if they are offering any student internships. Taking the time to reach out not only gives you the information you are looking for but it also connects you directly to an individual who may be a potential contact for the future.
Volunteering with an organization whose values are aligned with your career goals will not only look great on a resume, but it may also put you “in the know”. You will probably hear of potential summer internships before the public. Of course, if they know you and appreciate your work ethic, you will likely come to mind when a job or internship becomes available.
Finding a summer gig is not hard, but looking for the one that will benefit you the most in the long run can be a challenge. Hit the ground running, stay focused on your end goal and it will become easier as you move along through your career.
For tips and information on how to write a resume with limited work history or a volunteer position as your only relevant experience take a look at this previous blog post or contact us for help.