The Scoop on Summer Work Experiences
The school year is winding down, and summer is almost here! As you wade through final exams and turn in final projects, your mind may wander toward academic break activities. While planning your summer bucket list, don’t forget to consider making space for a summer work experience! Valuable educational, social, and financial opportunities await. While work may not be your initial choice for summer fun, remember – it’s also a possible way to fund some of those extra special activities you may not otherwise be able to enjoy!
Consider your skills and interests when searching for a summer job, and look for opportunities that spark your interest. Keep reading for the down-low on why and how to start the search for your summer job.
What Exactly is a “Work Experience”?
Work experience is an official-sounding term for “summer job.” The main differences between “work experience” and a job are the time hired and the type of work. Typically, work experience is short-term, anywhere between a few days to several weeks. There can be paid and unpaid positions, but they are seasonal or temporary. During certain times of the year, different businesses experience a temporary increase in customer traffic and therefore require a temporary increase in their workforce. Luckily for students, the need for extra employees at many local businesses coincides with summer break!
Benefits of Summer Work Experience
- You will develop new job skills. A summer job provides an opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience in a real-world work setting. Customer service, time management, problem-solving, use of adaptive technology, orientation and mobility, and communication skills are just a few examples of skills waiting for on-the-job sharpening!
- It is a confidence boost! Once you have successfully completed a summer job, you will likely notice a boost in confidence in your independent abilities. You may feel more prepared for future employment opportunities now that you have walked full circle through the process.
- Your bank account will grow. A summer job or work experience can provide a source of income. Aside from being a fun new perk, an income comes with the opportunity to hone your skills in financial responsibility. Responsible spending habits, financial planning, and saving strategies can all be “spin-off” benefits you reap due to your new position.
- You will have a new circle of people to network and socialize with. A summer job provides an opportunity to meet new people and make connections for future employment.
- It is an opportunity to explore potential career interests. A summer job offers opportunities to explore potential career paths and gain insight into different industries and professions.
- It builds (or starts) your resume. At the end of the summer, you will have on-the-job experience to speak of! This increases your credibility in the eyes of a future employer.
- You will further develop a work ethic. Once you have put in the hours regularly during your summer work experience, your work ethic (personal set of values that determine how you approach work) begins to develop. You likely will walk away with an improved sense of responsibility and reliability in the workplace.
- You will practice time management training. Your responsibilities in your new position must be balanced with your other responsibilities, such as summer classes, extracurricular activities, social plans, and family time. While you may not wholly master the full art of time management in one summer, I’d be willing to bet you will finish the summer with at least improvement in this area.
Where to Look for a Summer Work Experience
The vocational rehabilitation agency that assists people who are blind or low vision often has work experience or summer job programs. They are an excellent place to look since they can provide the additional support you may need as a result of being blind or low vision. The following are additional methods for looking for work.
- Check with your school. Many high schools and colleges have resources to help students find summer employment. Go seek guidance from your guidance counselor. If your school has one, look into a career center or alumni association to see if they have any job listings or career events.
- Ask family and friends. You may be surprised at how many people close to you either know of a specific job opening or may offer helpful suggestions. Maybe even their workplace is hiring for the summer!
- Check online job boards. Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor are examples of online job boards that list summer job opportunities and allow you to search for prospective employment by location, industry, or job title.
- Visit local businesses. Exchange the usual summer casual outfit for something a little more professional and visit local businesses that capture your interest in person. Ask if they are hiring summer employees and maybe even receive the inside scoop from a current employee. You can also leave a resume or application if a position becomes available.
- Attend job fairs. If there happens to be a local job fair or career event, don’t pass up the opportunity to attend! They allow you to meet employers and learn about summer opportunities in your area, all in a centralized location. Bring a parent or friend along for the day for extra support!
- Consider volunteer work. If you have trouble finding a paid summer job, consider volunteering for a nonprofit or local charity. This still allows you to gain valuable work experience and build your resume in a time or place where the pickings are slim for paid opportunities, which gives you a leg up on next summer’s work prospects!
- Create your own job! If you haven’t found a job that interests you, consider starting your own small business or offering pet-sitting, cleaning, organizational services, or tutoring services. Be sure to consider and discuss boundaries and potential safety considerations with your parents.
Summer Work Experience Ideas
- Customer service. Many stores and restaurants hire extra seasonal staff for summer to accommodate increased business. If the summer goes well, you may even be able to snag a job over winter break, another opportunity for seasonal hires and increased business traffic.
- Summer camps. Apply to work as a camp counselor, activity leader, or support staff, which could offer a fun and unique summer experience. Working parents usually need options for summer childcare, so summer camps are usually a good place to look. Maybe even inquire at a summer camp you’ve personally attended when younger.
- Tutor or teach. Have a subject you feel particularly adept at? You could offer your services as a tutor or teaching assistant for summer school programs, a local senior center, a library, or summer enrichment programs.
- Farm work. If you’re an animal lover or looking for something outdoors or unconventional, check out the local farm scene! Many farms hire seasonal workers for planting, harvesting, and packing produce.
- Landscaping or lawn care. Have a “green thumb” or enjoy working outside? You could try your hand at a landscaping or lawn care company to help them with tasks like weeding, planting, or mowing.
- Internships. Many companies offer summer internships for college students or recent graduates. Check out local availability!
- Freelance work. You could offer your services as a budding freelance writer, graphic designer, or web developer if you have an affinity for such skills.
- House or pet sitting. Many people go on vacation during the summertime and need someone reliable to care for their house (water plants, check mail, show a presence) or pets while away.
Let the Search Begin!
Hopefully, you’re convinced that a summer work experience is worth your time and effort. You can see how it can provide you with essential skills and experiences to benefit you. Baby steps towards this whole “adulting” thing, right?
Remember to be proactive in your job search and follow up on job leads. Don’t be shy about asking a trusted parent, vocational rehabilitation counselor, friend, or teacher to help guide you through the process, especially if this is your first time entering the job market. Happy job-hunting, friend, you got this!