Ask Kim


How to Land a Summer Job

Kimberly Lankford

Apply now because competition will be tough.



How is the summer job market shaping up for teens and college students? Do you have any advice on how to land a summer position?

This is the perfect time of year to search for a summer job, which can be a great way to get your foot in the door for a permanent position. “Employers have already started recruiting for summer help -- apply now,” says Jennifer Grasz, senior career adviser for CareerBuilder.com. “Typically, more than half of companies consider some of their seasonal recruits for permanent placement within their organizations when summer ends.”

Competition is expected to be tough for summer jobs again this year, so it’s important to apply early, submit a strong application, and get creative in your search. “The job market is still weak, and young workers are competing with workers who lost their jobs during the recession, as well as older workers seeking part-time employment,” says Stephen Bronars, PhD, senior labor economist with Welch Consulting. “I

Bronars says many of the jobs that will be available this summer are in the recreation and entertainment sector -- at parks, camps, and museums, for example. The hospitality industry and landscaping services are also good places to look, he says. For college students and experienced workers, the outlook for summer jobs is improving in computer-systems design, scientific research and social advocacy.

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Even though the summer job market isn’t buoyed by federal stimulus money this year, the U.S. Department of Labor is encouraging companies to boost their hiring this summer, with a goal of creating 100,000 summer jobs for people ages 16 to 24. Several big names, such as Wells Fargo, UPS and Toyota, have committed to expanding their summer hiring. Go to the Labor Department’s summer-job Web site for more information about these and other summer jobs and internships, such as 15,000 jobs with the U.S. Forest Service; 10,000 jobs with the U.S. Department of the Interior (at national parks, wildlife refuges and conservation areas; see Youth in the Great Outdoors for details); and 2,500 jobs at golf courses around the country through the We Are Golf coalition.

In addition to searching for jobs on general online job boards, such as CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com and Craigslist.com, you can also find jobs through specialized sites, such as CareerBuilder’s Workinretail.com, Jobsonthemenu.com (a restaurant job board), and Careerrookie.com (which lists internships, part-time and entry-level jobs).

Think creatively about the type of jobs that pick up in the summer. “As would be expected, the parks-and-rec departments of cities blow up this time of year -- day camp counselors, lifeguards, concession-stand attendants, maintenance workers, everything you could imagine around a pool or park,” says Jill Silman, vice-president of Meador Staffing Services, in Houston. There are also a lot of seasonal jobs at businesses near beaches or lakes, including restaurants, stores, gas stations, RV parks, hotels, and service establishments in tourist destinations, she says. And some less-obvious businesses are also busy in the summer. “Companies that typically have a big Christmas are building those products right now, so anyone that makes things that sell well during the holidays is beefing up right now,” she says.

Even if you’re interested in looking for longer-term work, it can still be worth it to apply for a summer job. “A lot of the jobs are seasonal, and for that reason they are perfect for students, but they should be considered by anyone who is unemployed,” says Silman. “I have always contended that you are much more marketable -- and attractive to a future employer -- when you’re working right now. Treat the interview and the process just as you would a full-time regular career opening. The process is the same -- from the application to the thank-you note.”

And if you’re looking to transition from part-time work to a full-time position, let the manager know upfront that you’re interested in being considered for full-time permanent employment. Grasz’s advice on showing initiative: Volunteer for additional responsibilities; ask good questions and offer ideas; and network with peers to see whether there are other job openings in the organization that may be a good fit for you. “Get to know as many people as you can,” she says.

It can also help to find a company that is known for transitioning summer workers to full-time employment. UPS, for example, is hiring 1,500 summer workers in 71 locations. “Our jobs are primarily part-time, entry-level positions, but we have a very strong promotion from within,” says Betty Amend, of UPS. “We look at this as a new recruiting source, an opportunity to grow our talent.” Amend herself started in a summer job at UPS 27 years ago -- and now is the company’s vice-president of human resources.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.



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