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The College Student Summer Job Search

Posted by Elaine Varelas  May 15, 2013 10:00 AM

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Q. I am a college student who just completed my freshman year. I've been looking for a summer job ever since I returned home for break. Employers are telling me that in order to be considered to work, a.) I either need experience or b.) I cannot be a college student. I am starting to get extremely frustrated and am afraid I won't get a summer job. Please advise.

A. Summer jobs, as with all jobs, are in demand and the market for these opportunities is highly competitive. What are your expectations for a summer job? Students often have a long wish list; a great job, with cool people, making great money, getting terrific work experience and being highly appreciated by their employer.

The reality is more like this; do you need to make money or gain experience? Certainly if you can get both from the same job you are one of the lucky winners of the ideal summer job. For many others, especially those starting their summer job search now (as opposed to over March break), putting together a few different jobs, each with a different purpose may be the only way to achieve both goals.

So where are the summer jobs? Employment is based on the economy; looking at the seasonality of the economy offers opportunities in industries that thrive during the summer. Tourism; including hotels and restaurants (fast food and upscale); retail companies in high traffic tourist locations all experience business growth during the summer. Camps, beaches, parks and vendors who support these activities may also be looking for summer help. Many of these employers will accept walk in applicants with resumes in hand. Dress well and ask to speak to a manager. If a manager isnít available, chat up the staff to see if there are potential openings. Leave a resume and get the manger's name and number so that you can follow up. Don't forget to get the name of the staff member you spoke with!

Networking continues to be the best way to secure any job. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, create one. If you have a LinkedIn profile, communicate with your contacts about your need for a summer job after you add to your contact list. Invite all your faculty members to connect, administrative staff from your college who know you, former employers, neighbors and family friends. Cast a wide net and let everyone know you are looking for an opportunity.

Use Facebook for the same activity. Make sure you describe the special skills you have to offer. Were you a great receptionist at the student union? Say so! Companies may need people to cover vacations. Did you build a website for your fraternity? Showcase the technical abilities you have. Many organizations have one job (not many jobs) which they offer to one person they were introduced to by a current employee or close fiends of managers. Make sure you are the person shaking social media hands with anyone who can introduce you to a hiring manager.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.