How Can You Make The Most Of Your Boring Summer Job?

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I couldn’t find a summer job in my field and had to take a boring job because I need the money. I’m worried it’s going to look awful on my resumé. How can I make the most of it so my summer isn’t wasted?

I’m sorry to hear you couldn’t find anything in your field. While it is good news that you were at least able to find something that will help pay the bills, it sounds like you are worried that now you’ll be saddled with a summer job that will not add any interest or value to your resumé.

Thinking ahead to how this job will look on your resumé may be causing you some worry now, but it could prove to be just the thing to motivate you to try on some strategies for making lemonade out of your summer job lemon.

If the job you are in is the best you can find, here are some things you can try in order to make your time there more worthwhile.

Take on more responsibility

When you start your job, it may not be very exciting or offer a lot in terms of skill-building. But after you have proven that you can do your job competently, there may be opportunities for you to influence what else you get a chance to do.

Are there ways in which you could take on more responsibility? Might you speak with your supervisor about how you could contribute more? For example, could you help train new or more junior staff? Could you become accountable for any extra processes, perhaps related to record keeping, money or other responsibilities?

Sometimes just saying, “I would love to make a greater contribution here, is there anything else I could take on?” will allow your supervisor to find more tasks for you. Once your supervisor has seen that you can handle your job, he or she might be open (and grateful for) you taking on added responsibility.

Suggest improvements

In almost every workplace there are things that can be done better. Have you noticed something that you think you can improve? If you have ideas, think about how to present them in a way that is not critical, but helpful, so  your employer can see that you are not complaining but are interested in making a meaningful contribution.

If you are able to make improvements, this will provide great material for your resumé as future employers will be impressed to see that, even in a routine job, you were able to make informed suggestions that helped the organization improve.

Propose new projects

If you find you can get your job duties done with time to spare, what about proposing a new project for you to take on?  If there are specific skills you would like to develop, skills that will be of value in your chosen field, is there a way you could propose a project that will allow you to use them?

I once supervised a student who worked in a receptionist role. She wanted to get into communications and proposed to me that she take on some writing projects. She had already proven that she could get her core reception responsibilities done with time to spare, so I was happy to say yes. She did a great job of the extra projects and included them on her future resumés.

Even with a not-so-stellar sounding job, there are ways to get more out of the experience, both for making your summer more stimulating, and for adding more value to your future resumés. Best wishes as you work to make the most of your summer job.

Click here to check out more of Cathy’s answers to pressing career questions from students and new grads just like you.

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About the author

Cathy Keates is a career counsellor and trainer who has worked with university students and graduates for the past decade, helping them to strategically create careers they will love. She has worked as a career counsellor at Queen's University and was the associate director of the career centre at York University. Convinced that we can all create lives based on authenticity and integrity, she is the author of the new job search book Not for Sale! and shares her thoughts about finding work without losing yourself on her blog, Transform Your Job Search.