Your summer job is really a long interview

Summer jobs can be great ways to boost your career and make some money even though most of them are temporary.  Some people make the mistake of downplaying a summer job with less importance, thinking, “I am only there for the summer working above minimum wage so who cares if I do a great job?” You should care because a summer job is really a long interview.

People are observing how well you perform under pressure as well as the attitude you bring to work every day.  It’s not uncommon for a summer job to lead to a full-time opportunity but before that happens there are few distinguishing strategies that will make you memorable.

If you treat your summer job as though it were an interview, you are likely to be on your best behavior every day.  The way you approach a job regardless of the title sends a perception to the hiring manager that you care about making the employer successful rather than being self-focused on what you are getting out of it.

Long after the summer is over you’ll have memories of what you learned, some will recall how much they learned about themselves while others will describe what they liked and disliked about working in different career fields. Sometimes a summer job will help confirm your interests and keep you motivated to learn more.

The smallest jobs often pave the way to larger ones, working behind the counter serving customers gets you prepared for problem solving and strengthens your communication skills.

Outside of the benefits in making money, summer jobs give you exposure to the marketplace where you see how people communicate and produce results.  You will see the good behavior mixed with the bad and all of it will help form your personal work style.

The greatest gift of a summer job is the confidence you’ll gain by developing discipline and growing your skills.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your summer job:

  • Think like an employer. Walk in your employer’s shoes and manage your time as if this was your company. The more interested you are in your employer’s success, the more willing they are to invest in you, plus it’s not uncommon for employers to hire you once the summer is over.
  • Be aware of your communication style with your employer and customers. Managers make comments constantly in regard to how different work generations communicate, more recent grads tend to use texting and email to pass on information rather than in-person. Match the employer’s style of communication not yours and you’ll be perceived in a professional way.
  • Build good networking skills, you’ll need a good mentor to help you grow.  Take advantage of your summer job by getting to know decision makers and those you could learn from. Networking is a give and take relationship, offer to help co-workers and go the extra mile to show that you care.
  • Separate your personal life from your work life. Even though a summer job can be a great way to make friends, you are getting paid to deliver a service or product for the employer.  Learn about work boundaries and how important they are in your career.
  • What you post on the internet will influence your employer’s perception of you. Pay attention to your invites and the type of information you are sharing. Employers tend to assume you are like-minded with those whom you associate and your social networking could be a factor in how you are perceived. In other words, do you act one way at work that conflicts with “the real you” image socially?


What did you learn from a summer job that helped your career?