Practical Tips to Score a Summer Job

Summer is the opportune time to save money for college and university students.

Not only are students, like myself, most likely NOT paying tuition or hefty textbook fees, we are suddenly bestowed an unwonted lot of free time.

Undoubtedly, it is totally up to each individual how he/she spends this free time, but for many it is in our best interest to get a job.


Getting a job isn’t as easy nor fear-free as parents make it out to be. If you don’t have a job awaiting your return from college or university and you’re positively clueless as to where to start, this post is for you.

Here are some tips on places to apply, building a resume, and mastering an interview.

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Buckle up and prepare to apply to multiple places. But–steady your rising stress– you’ve done this before. You’ve applied to different colleges, you’ve faced rejection in some form or another. When deciding where to apply, consider your interests and desired levels of involvement. Remember, this is a summer job. Do you want your job to be career-oriented? In other words, do you want your job to be relevant to your major or vocational pursuit? Or, do you want your job to be a break from the aforementioned?

Bear in mind which employers typically hire temporary summer employees. These include retail and grocery stores, restaurants, and summer fun programs. It is best, when applying to these particular locations, to be familiar with their products and business goals. It is even better to be a customer to a place which you are applying. If you’re utterly unsure where to apply, check out local job listings to gauge typical wages and opportunities in your area.


It is also important to configure a desired work schedule before applying to any employer. You don’t have superiority or experience so some shifts may not be available to you. But, if you do have a specific schedule you wish your employer to work around, it is best to outline and vocalize it when applying to avoid later confusion.

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Take heed in knowing most people loathe resumes, whether it be writing them or reading them. However logistically inevitable, resumes clue employers in to your levels of detail and ambition. The best tips I have for creating a resume in sum: keep yours concise, clear, and representative of you as a worker.

Creating a Resume in Parts:

Objective: Totally irksome to write, but a perfect springboard for highlighting your goals and outlining why you are pursuing this summer job in particular. As a student, your objective is clear and formfitting: you are pursuing a job to support your education. If the job you are applying to happens to be relevant to your major or career of choice, take note of this. Employers will highly regard your attempt to gain extra experience in your chosen field.

Ex: I am applying to the retail employee position to support my college education and to gain valuable experience towards my Business degree.

Highlights: This is your space to bullet list your qualities as sufficiently as possible. Think about your work and school habits and what drives you to perform as best as possible in both.

Ex: I am responsible, honest, ambitious, self-motivated, punctual, quick to learn, and cooperative.

Education: List, in order, your past schools (high school being the earliest) and degrees you’ve earned or are in pursuit of earning at each. Note special diplomas or recognitions you’ve earned (i.e. Dean’s List, Phi Theta Kappa, etc).

Past Employment: As with the above, chronologically list your past employers and past positions held. Note job duties with each employer as concisely as possible, but highlight certain duties where they apply to the job in which you are currently in pursuit. For example, you may at first be inclined to simply list “worked a cash register” if you were a past retail employee. However, in reality, retail employees may take inventory, maintain the cleanliness of their store, and perform clerical duties.

Additional: When you are creating a resume, you have the space to note additional skills you’ve acquired or relevant engagements. This could include extensive volunteering or computer, bilingual, or certified skills (CPR/First Aid, etc). Employers appreciate multifaceted employees. If you are pursuing an internship or employment in a humanities field, note past publications if possible.

References: You could go with the oft-used line, “Available upon request,” but I’d argue it always looks better to have references available now. This demonstrates seriousness and competency. You have people you entrust with recommending you at the ready. As a student, your reference options may be limited. Choose past employers and professors that can speak well of you before settling on friends. If you must, list friends that are fellow classmates.


Keeping your resume professional, short, and clean doesn’t have to cost you cash. I always use Resumizer to create free and downloadable resumes online. Untitled drawing(2).jpg

Professional Wear:  I totally understand the temptation to dress in your Sunday best once you get so far as to score an interview. You’ve essentially gained in vocational level-ups and you’re giddy. But, I advise neutral and minimal wear because your person shouldn’t be overshadowed by an outfit. Of course fashion is expressive, but most employers aren’t looking to your clothes to gauge how up to date and trendy you are. If anything, they look to your clothes to gauge the impression you’re trying to make on them.

My go-to:Untitled drawing(3).jpg

Earrings from lunaijewelry , an Etsy store featured in this post.

The Handshake: The harbinger that infamously foretells the rest of your interview. Is it as portentous as it’s made out to be? Not really. Nonetheless, make it firm and short.

The Questions: As you would for a presentation, prepare accordingly for the obvious questions you will be asked. Think: Why are you applying for this job? Why should we hire you? What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?


But, do not over-prepare to the point that your answers come out robotic. Try to be as present as possible, without relying on memorization to carry you forward. It is totally normal to take pauses to steel yourself , to prepare your response, and more often than not, pauses you do dare aren’t as long as you perceive them to be. These pauses in speech could even signal to the employer other great qualities: thoughtfulness and consideration.

When answering questions regarding your greatest strengths, be mindful of what you listed under Highlights on your resume. When working out the smoothest response to your greatest weaknesses, be professionally truthful. In other words, do not divulge weaknesses in the same confidence you would with a friend. And do not share weaknesses that could be easily corrected, such as difficulty counting cash or shyness around customers. Think weaknesses that could, if worded differently, be perceived as strengths. Think strengths gone awry, such as being “too detailed” or “overly analytical.” Be sure to note to your employer that you are working on correcting your perceived weakness and will continue to do so if accepted as an employee.

Your Questions: Asking questions of your own displays interest, investment, and seriousness. And you most likely will have questions. Think: When will I hear back from you? What is a typical day like as an employee? What are the typical shifts? How long is the training period and what does it entail?

Congratulations on your simple ambition to work! It’s not always easy to put yourself out there and navigate job listings.


It’s not always easy to put yourself out there and navigate job listings. If you have any other worthwhile tips for job seekers, please let us know below.


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