Whether you head home or stick around campus when school lets out for the summer, one thing’s for sure: now is the perfect time to get a summer job. Not only can a summer job help you save money for the upcoming school year — to go toward tuition, room and board, or even buying textbooks online— but also, it can set you up with valuable experience in your chosen career path. If you’re a pre-law major, working for a local law firm during summer breaks is a great way to step into the field, for example. If you’re an English education major, tutoring students shows you’re passionate about your intended career.
The only problem? Finding a good temporary gig isn’t always easy. From trying to find a specific job to trying to balance work against summer travel and other activities, the job market for students can be tricky. What do you need to know? How can you stay ahead of the game? Here’s a look at some top tips for choosing the right summer job in your college years:
- Use Your Connections. It’s as true for the temporary job market as it is for the permanent one: connections matter. Do any of your professors have leads on summer opportunities? Do your parents’ coworkers or friends know of any openings? Ask around among the people you know to find out if anyone in your network is hiring or able to help you get connected with a summer job.
- Stick to Your Field of Study. The most beneficial opportunities are the ones related to your intended career path, as they not only provide you with income but also with valuable experience to add to your resume. When you graduate at the end of your college career, it can be with a few summers of in-field jobs under your belt, setting you apart from graduates without the experience.
- Consider an Internship. A summer internship may or may not come with some level of pay, but because it’s so useful in building future job skills, it can still be worthwhile. Look into internships at companies you’d like to someday work for, internships directly related to your intended career and internships that especially interest you. While you’re gaining new skills and experiences, you may also end up making connections that help you find a job when school ends.
- Plan Your Summer Schedule. If at all possible, before you even accept a summer job, know the dates and times when you’ll need to be off work. Family vacations, ongoing commitments and other scheduled events can usually all be accommodated as long as you’re upfront.
- Save Your Earnings. It’s tempting to take all your summer income and blow it on food, fun, trips with friends, cool clothes and entertainment — but save as much as you can to help with next year’s school bills. Even if your tuition and room and board are already covered, a little extra money can go a long way toward school supplies, your weekend budgets and so on.
For most college students, the hardest part about landing the right summer job is finding the job to begin with — so in addition to the tips listed above, start looking early in order to find the good opportunities before they’re gone. With a little strategy and hard work, you can find a position you’ll be proud of, as well as a great way to grow your job skills.