By Penny Loretto
If you are looking to find a summer job or internship, be sure to check out some of the tips provided here. The earlier you start, the better chance you will have in finding an internship that matches your interests.
Perhaps you are still not sure about what you want to do; no worries, many students are in the same place and you will eventually find your way as you research career options. Summer jobs or internships will also help you to evaluate what you like and what you may want to do in terms of a future career.
Where Do Your Interests Lie?
You may already know that you are interested in certain areas, such as: working with children, the environment, local, state, and federal government, the arts, the sciences, music, social work, business, economics, computer science, technology, etc., so these are all great places to start. Once you’ve researched the wide variety of career options in each field, you will be in better shape to identify what you’d like to be doing for the summer.
You may also want to check with The Career Development Center at your College to see if they offer career assessments that you can take to help you with the process. Talking over the assessments with a career counselor is important, since they can help you navigate exactly what the results mean.
There are also a number of assessments available online; but it is preferred that you work with a professional career counselor so that you can evaluate the results together. That being said, Richard Bolles, author of “What Color is Your Parachute”, says that these online tests can "give you ideas you hadn't thought of, and suggestions worth following up.” “The key is to not expect too much of the tests -- not to believe they will provide a magic answer that will guide the rest of your life and career.” Bolles also suggests that you take more than one test, which can reassure you that by getting several similar results that you have received valid results and have found a potential career worth pursuing.
Making a Decision:
Once you’ve worked with a career counselor or have completed an assessment either through your college or online, you will have a better idea of where your interests lie. There may be just one area of interest that stands above the rest or you may have found several areas of interest that you might decide you want to pursue.
The important aspect of this phase is the need to make a decision. I find that this is often painful for students because they feel that if they choose one career, they are throwing away other potential areas of interest. What I tell students is that this is a journey and that you will learn something new about yourself each and every step of the way.
Either way, if you love your summer job, this may be something you will want to pursue after you graduate from college. On the other hand, if you hate it, you’ve just added a little bit more information to the puzzle and you will now know, what areas you might want to avoid. This is a learning experience that takes some level of risk to successfully complete the career planning process, and to help you to make an informed decision on your future career.
By working at a summer camp, zoo, nonprofit organization, political organization, local newspaper, or some other organization that’s related to your career aspirations, you will get a chance to test the waters that will help you in your decision-making process and give you some real world experience to boot.
You might also consider signing up to work for a temp agency where you can gain exposure to different types of organizations.
What Resources Does Your Career Center Offer?
Your Career Center at your college most likely provides many resources to offer its students. From resume and cover letter development to networking and online internship and job listings, most have many opportunities available for students to tap into.
You will want to start the networking process by speaking to family, friends, previous employers, faculty, etc., and let them know the type of experiences you are looking for for the summer. Your college may also offer an Alumni database where you can conduct informational interviews to help you in your career planning process. LinkedIn is another networking source, and if you don’t already have a Profile, you may want to get one started.
Another great way to find summer internships or jobs is to check out employers in your geographic area by prospecting. Once you connect, ask them about any opportunities that they have for students to do summer jobs or internships. You will want to be prepared with a 30 second elevator speech to provide them with information on your skills and accomplishments. You may also connect via email but be sure to follow up with a phone call.
Be sure to check out your local newspaper and Chamber of Commerce. These resources can help to identify employers in your area where you can then go ahead and prospect to find potential summer jobs. Using databases like LinkedIn or Idealist.org can also help you to uncover local companies in your area. Summer camp jobs and summer jobs may be search terms you may want to use when looking for a summer job.
Become an Entrepreneur:
Starting your own business may be easier than you think. I know a student that had his own ice cream truck that ended up being so successful that he expanded his market and made this his full-time job once he graduated from college. Do you have a special skill that you could teach students? Perhaps you are musically inclined and could teach students how to play an instrument? Maybe you could help tutor students trying to learn a foreign language? Or just maybe you could start your own landscaping business or even teach sailing. Since many people travel during the summer, maybe you could start your own pet sitting service. I know an artist that started walking her neighbor’s dogs and ended up with a quite lucrative career doing dog portraitures. The point is that if you have a passion or something you enjoy, there may be a need in the community that will help you to generate a valuable stream of income.