So you’ve beefed up your resume, networked with everyone from your next door neighbour to your college professors, and applied all over town, but somehow, it’s July and the most work you’ve gotten has been the few dollars your parents threw you for clearing out the shed.
If you’re still on the hunt for summer work and employers aren’t biting, it may be time to caste a wider net.
Two summers ago, I found myself in this position. It was half way through the summer and though I had applied early and often, I was stuck without any form of employment.
Determined to find something, I widened my search to include positions I had previously passed over. I had originally focused on jobs that were directly linked to my degree or what I wanted to do (or a few that sounded like a damn good time – Tim Horton’s donut taster?).
But when it came to July, I started broadening my search. I started looking for anything that I was qualified for and that I could learn (and earn) from in a two month span.
As a result, I landed a position as a companion in my local hospital and one at a shoe store. They weren’t ideal summer jobs, but for what I needed at the time, they fit the bill.
To be clear, it’s not that you shouldn’t have standards of what type of work you’re willing to do. Widening your search simply means looking outside of your typical job hunt criteria to other jobs that may also meet those standards. While going with this approach isn’t for everyone, I personally found it very beneficial.
Why you should widen your summer job search
Widening your summer job search takes a shift in perspective. Give some thought to why you need a summer job so badly. Is it for the money? Is it for the experience? Is it for your resume? Your answers to these questions will help determine how broad your search should be and what jobs you could be applying to.
The positions you get may not be your dream job but with the right attitude, they may be just what your summer needs.
Though these summer jobs may not be what you want to do long term, the skills can “transfer” to future positions in your desired field. As a liberal arts student who liked writing, I wasn’t really looking to make my way in the healthcare system or retail industry, but what I learned from those two jobs was invaluable.
Every job, no matter what it is, will give you transferable skills. From the hospital job, I learned patience and how to adapt to an unfamiliar work environment. From the shoe store, I learned customer service, how to handle money, and how businesses are run.
You might like it
Your mom used to say it when she was trying to force feed you broccoli and it is still true now: you never know if you’ll like something unless you try it. Getting exposure to different entry level positions and work environments could open you up to new career paths or interests that you hadn’t previously considered.
You might not like it
If you learn that you really don’t like certain things about these different job fields, that is also valuable information. Learning what you don’t like can make you more confident about your current pursuit and give you a clearer picture about what type of job you’re looking for in the future.
Fill that gap on your resume
Aside from the pay cheque, the other tangible thing that you earn from a summer job outside of your comfort zone is an addition to your resume. While you may not think that a summer as a hospital companion is relevant to your pursuit of corporate communications, it’s all in how you sell it.
Highlight those transferable skills and make connections with your employers so that they’ll act as a potential reference.