Making the Most of Your Summer Job

Congratulations on landing your summer job! I vividly remember my first—as a grocery “stock boy” at an area store. To be honest, I had some mixed emotions about it. On one hand, my paycheck would far exceed any allowance I ever earned! I’d be able to put some money aside for my college fund and still have some left over for extra spending. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy the job, and I’d miss my old summers that were mostly play. Don’t be surprised if you have some of those same feelings.

So, now with the benefit of hindsight, what are my best tips to help you maximize the value of your summer job experience?

  1. Build your life skills. Whether you’re a barista, cashier, sitter, camp counselor, landscaper, server, or otherwise, you’ll gain valuable life skills you might not even realize. Consider these qualities that employers value: high standards, integrity, dependability (including showing up on time, every time!), teamwork, motivation, resilience, enthusiasm, and relational skill. Depending on your job, you’ll be able to develop these skills, for both the summer and for your eventual career!
  2. Demonstrate your leadership skills. Just by landing your job, you’ve demonstrated leadership abilities. However, if you actively pursue leadership opportunities on the job, you’ll add to your repertoire. These examples will make you a more competitive candidate in future interviews.
  3. Develop a network of ambassadors. Throughout life, especially in your career, you will be helped immeasurably by having a great network of fans. Your supervisor and other adults you’ll be working with are potential ambassadors, references, and connectors for you…provided you demonstrate excellence on the job and earn their support!
  4. Learn from the pros. You’ll undoubtedly be surrounded by experienced employees with great reputations. Observe them and learn as much as you can. Seek out their wisdom and career secrets!
  5. Seek valuable feedback. Your supervisor can give you helpful feedback on your job performance and relational skills. I always made it a point to ask for both positive areas and ways I could improve. Take their criticism constructively and include it in your personal growth plan.
  6. Identify your likes and dislikes. Chances are, your summer job will be different from your eventual career. Nonetheless, you’ll gain valuable perspectives about what you’ll like and dislike in your eventual career and work environment. This will help you select a well-matched career and future employer.
  7. Learn about personal finance. Your summer job will offer you excellent opportunities to grow your understanding of personal finance. You’ll quickly learn the difference between gross and net pay (sorry!) and perhaps open your own checking or savings account. With that, will come all the knowledge of banking, checkwriting, debit cards, identity theft, and more. You’ll also develop valuable saving disciplines and learn how to become a wise spender with your newfound income (especially knowing the difference between needs versus wants!). Make the most of these and other opportunities to improve your financial literacy.

Summer jobs offer so much at this pivotal time of life. The experience may not always be fun or exciting, but it builds strong foundational skills for life! Go for it!

 

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