Whatever your reason for taking a summer job, you can make this job count in a way that will pay off well into the future if you go about it wisely,
School is out and while the beach beckons and the mall is calling, school leavers and students still need to earn a few rand to get them through the holiday season and into the New Year.
“Getting a summer job is a great way to spend the holidays, and it can help open doors for you in future when you can use it to demonstrate that you have gained experience and handled your responsibilities well in the past,” says Zabo Mhleli, Team Leader in the Student Advisory Department at Oxbridge Academy.
“Most people would love to just relax and do as little as possible during the holidays, and that is understandable. However, many need the additional income, while others choose to get a head start on their careers. Whatever your situation or reason for taking a summer job, you can make this job count in a way that will pay off well into the future if you go about it wisely,” Mhleli advises.
Here are some strategic tips to help you make the most of your holiday job:
Find a job that relates to your future plans
Being able to match the experience to the potential requirements list on future job applications will be far more beneficial than just being able to indicate that you have unrelated work experience.
If you want to go into communications, then working as a waiter, for instance, will bring with it a wealth of practise in dealing with the public. And if your dream is to become an engineer, then rather head down to the industrial side of town and find businesses that might be looking for a driver or someone to help out as an apprentice.
Focus on the transferable skills
Do you research: search for job advertisements for positions in your dream career, and note what kind of transferable skills are desired.
No matter what type of work you’re going to be doing, you’re sure to have the opportunity to learn some transferable skills – that core set of skills that will be applicable in most industries and positions. Waiters, for instance, could focus on learning customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills, even if they have no intention of going into the hospitality industry. The aim is to identify the skills you will need for your future career, and then to figure out how your summer job can help you learn them.
Develop your work ethic
A summer job provides the perfect opportunity to learn how to be professional, how to navigate the workplace, and how to manage tricky situations and politics you may encounter in future.
Employers complain that young graduates and new recruits don’t understand how to operate in the workplace. That means that young people who demonstrate a sound work ethic from day one are much more likely to make good progress in their careers right from the start.
“Young people often complain about the catch-22 of needing experience to get a job, and needing a job to get the experience that employers want. With a summer job, you can get a foot in the door at junior level. Then when you want to apply for your first big job, this will put you in a much better position than someone who tries to land a job with zero experience,” Mhleli says.
If a summer job isn’t an option for you, then spending the time studying, helping at a family business, volunteering at a charity and travelling can all provide great opportunities to pick up skills and prepare for the working world come January.