By Tana Taylor-JukoA summer job (or two) may put you at the top of the interview pile when you begin pursuing your career. Whether you find a summer job which relates to your future field or not, the dedication to work outside of school is a certain benefit. Showing future employers that your summer months weren’t all family vacations and relaxation can move you further up the line as you begin submitting applications and résumés. The most ideal scenario would be to find a job related to your major – a paying job or a non-paid internship – so that you are able to learn the techniques, terminology, and skills that you may not be able to acquire so easily in the classroom. Making these kinds of large connections within the field of your choice will definitely look great on your résumé and put you ahead of other applicants. But what if you choose a summer job that does not relate to your major or future career? The truth is – you’re still ahead of the game. Maintaining a job during the summer holiday will give you work experience. The key word is experience. Your employer(s) will know that you have worked in “the real world,” and that you have presented the basic requirements of an employee. If you are fortunate enough to find a job that relates to your major or if you take on an arbitrary summer position, there are key characteristics that any summer job can offer and will certainly look good in the eyes of your future employer. Here are just a few: Diligence Though summer is a great time to relax, obtaining a summer job will show your future employer that you are far from lazy. Having a summer job is often a sign of how you will perform when you begin your career. As a former assistant manager for a well-known shoe store, I can say that something management looks for in an employee (specifically younger candidates) is whether they are willing to commit themselves to the job completely. This level of commitment is shown clearest when an applicant presents a résumé that shows that they gave up their summer to work. We all deserve a break every once in a while, but going the extra mile to work while your friends play shows that you are hard-working and dedicated. Reliability Reliability and diligence go hand-in-hand; however, reliability assures employers that they can count on you. When you pursue your career, your supervisor would like to trust you to be on time, present your best work, and occasionally demonstrate innovative ideas or solutions. Each of these requires reliability, and obtaining a summer job will give you an opportunity to show your employer(s) that they can trust in and count on you. Experience As previously stated, experience is important for both you and your employer. Simply put, experience proves to your employer that you are teachable and willing to work. Nowadays, there are so many people who want a job just for the paycheck, but are not willing to work for it. As a student who can maintain a summer position, you remove yourself from that group in a number of ways. Experience is also something you get to carry with you after your summer job is over. You can speak about the experience during interviews and use it to assist your performance in more permanent positions while you are in school or as you pursue your career. No matter your experience during your summer employment, there will always be things (both positive and negative) that you can take away and apply to your current position to help make you better or move you up within the company. Additional Takeaways Remain on good terms with your summer employer – leaving on good terms will not only secure a position for the following summer, but it will also aid in transferring to another location within the company in the future and/or guarantee that your employer provides positive recommendations. Talk to your immediate connections first – often people take the long route in looking for a job. Go with who you know! Start with looking for a job within your major by talking to your professors about summer positions that they may be aware of within the field. If they aren’t able to help, try going to your college or university career center. Most schools have a career center that helps students find work after they have graduated, but the career center is also useful in helping students find temporary work and internships within their majors. You may also consider talking to friends and family to see whether they have any immediate connections, and this can work well for jobs inside and outside of your field. Set up professional networking pages – most of us have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but sometimes these sites can do more damage than good when it comes to getting a job. Be sure you remain professional on your social media pages or simply increase your privacy settings. Also, consider joining a professional networking site like LinkedIn in which employers look for you. This makes the application process a little bit easier, but like any job search, you must stay on top of it. Tana Taylor-Juko is a College Counselor and teaches English composition and technical writing. Tana hosts Unigo Live Sessions on Getting In, Paying For It, and College Life. She enjoyed six years at Texas Tech while earning two degrees.