Finding a summer job as a student can be very tough, especially for those of us without relevant work experience. We have all experienced the annoyance and stress of scrolling through job boards for hours on end only to find that nothing truly piques our interest or we lack the required skills. Don’t fret! With the right mindset and utilizing a few strategies and tricks, finding a job can turn from a stressor to a manageable task.

Start your job search early

In the middle of a school semester summer employment is probably the last thing on your mind. However, companies often like to hire early. Summer job postings can open as soon as December and continue past April. Starting your job search early can eliminate the last minute stress of scrambling to find a job. Summer jobs with early deadlines will also generally have less applicants than jobs posted closer to summer, when everyone will be desperately trying to find work.

Apply to jobs that will push you towards your goals

We’d probably all love to work in an ice cream store in the summer, but even with unlimited free samples, consider if the job you apply to will help you to reach your goals and be relevant to your career path. There is a sweet spot between being too picky and too lackadaisical when it comes to looking for and selecting a job. Understand that more experience allows you to become more choosy, but try to stay open to opportunities you may not have originally considered. If you are the kind of student who knows exactly what you want to do after graduating, look for a job that will teach you the skills required for your desired career. For example, if you want to be a teacher, a job like a summer camp staff would be very applicable and provide you with great training and preparation for your eventual post-graduation work.

Use summer jobs as a way to explore new opportunities

There is no way to know if you will like something without trying it first. Student summer employment is for exploring new opportunities and trying jobs you may have never imagined yourself doing. There are only limited times in your life will you will be able to sample from a selection of short-term jobs, so take full advantage of it. Many disciplines are completely different in theory than in the workplace and their scope and type of work may surprise you. 

Don’t be afraid to email and use connections

Getting a summer job, especially that first one, can be hard. It is up to you to market yourself to potential employers. Friends and family are often great ways to get your foot in the door. Let them know what your looking for and give them your resume. Contacting companies or organizations that are not outwardly posting job openings may be another way to unsuspectingly acquire a job. Some companies often do not want to spend time and money associated with the recruitment process and will hire students without a formal job opening. Be resourceful — tell them how you can be an asset to their company. 

Summer employment is your chance to learn new skills, explore new opportunities, and experience different work environments. Even if adding to your resume is your top concern, you will be surprised with all the amazing people you meet and fun you have in your summer jobs. Summer is also for getting outside and enjoying yourself, so make sure you set some time aside to relax and enjoy this time of the year!

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