Is your summer job worth more than money?

Three ways to make your summer job pay you well beyond the summer.

For teens, summer is an opportunity to work full-time and earn money. However, according to Michigan State University Extension, with a little strategic planning a summer job can be so much more than just a paycheck.

Every job, whether you are being paid or working as a volunteer, not only can fill your wallet but build your resume. All your work experiences should be included in your resume so while you are working, think strategically about how to make each entry in your resume more significant. Talk to your boss and explain that you want to get a variety of experiences and increased responsibility under his/her leadership. Offer to take on new tasks to gain more experience. Ask if there is another position that you qualify for. These opportunities build your resume in key ways and will show progressive growth in responsibility and technical skills.

Guarantee that your summer job helps you get your next job. A key element in the hiring process is contacting former employers for a reference. Ensure that your boss knows you and your efforts well enough to be able to provide a positive recommendation for you to future employers. It is invaluable to have a former employer who can speak about the tangible work behaviors you exhibited while working with them. These bahaviors could include your ability to handle defined tasks, to stay on task, multi-tasking and showing up on time. Equally valuable is an employer who can talk about your character traits like attitude, ability to work with others, temperament, honesty and integrity. Remember that the kind of employee you are at your summer job may have a significant impact on the “doors” that open for you for future employment.

If you enjoy your summer job and think it might be the career pathway that you would like to pursue, or at least explore, consider if there is potential for an internship with that business in the future. Such an opportunity would give you additional skills and allow you to learn more about potential careers in the field. Employers are always looking for hard-working employees and if you have proven yourself over the summer, your chances are greatly improved that they may be willing to have you back in another position in the future.

Thinking of a summer job as an opportunity to build your resume, secure a positive reference and potentially secure a future internship makes the experience even more valuable than the money it puts in your wallet.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development has more information about exploring careers and preparing for the workforce. A new national 4-H curriculum, Build Your Future, is full of activities and guided learning around career education. It is available to educators and group leaders online at the 4-H Mall.

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