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Grin and bear it; the summer job pays off

by • February 20, 2014 • Student LifeComments Off407

That summer job you’ve been preoccupied with – turns out it may have lasting benefits down the road.

According to SCAD career advisor Ali Harrell, having these part-time jobs communicates certain attributes to employers.

“The benefit of holding a summer job that is seemingly unrelated to your field of study is that it shows transferable skills, such as a strong work ethic, reliability, and time management skills…,” she writes. Harrell states that these abilities are just as desirable to an employer as skills related to a specific field.

This is good news to students, like me, who have worked at a campground all summer, but are (obviously) pursuing a different field at the university.

“Obviously obtaining an internship, freelance or part-time job related to your major is ideal, but don’t discount your experience that is unrelated. It’s important too!,” writes Harrell.

But how exactly do summer work obligations, however servile they may be, influence the way we look on paper or to prospective employers? Lynn Barrett, director of career and alumni success, explains that being employed teaches two important things.

“One is the importance of developing a strong work ethic.” Barrett insists that summer jobs develop positive professional habits, like showing up on time, managing tasks and taking initiative. The more disciplined a student is during summer work, the more their school and professional work will improve, which ultimately influences their chances of landing that dream job.

Summer jobs also reinforce the concept of work culture. “Learning how to pick up on cultural clues in any job or company is a skill that you can work on at any job,” says Barrett. “And what better place to start than a summer or part-time job?” Regardless of what jobs are applied for, Barrett says that employers take notice of jobs listed on a resume.

“Be confident that those employers in your industry who look at your resume, and see that you have had these types of jobs, will get a great message from you: You got a job, you succeeded in the job, so you must have developed your work ethic and your understanding of company culture.”

Sadly, the “culture” of a summer job typically includes long hours, low pay, and is generally unfulfilling.

It’s destitute.

My experience was exceptionally bad in that I weedwhacked all summer, dealt with angry campers (which are the worst kind of angry people), and spent my weekend nights in a mascot bear suit dancing with children. Let me tell you, there is nothing more emotionally crippling than sweating in a bear suit on a Saturday night, unsure if the salty taste in your mouth is your perspiration, tears, or overwhelming despair.

Anyway, for extreme cases like mine, Senior Career Adviser Chrissy Terry says the suffering is not without purpose. “Employers value individuals who have worked in unrewarding positions because it tells them a lot about their overall commitment to the job. Their confidence in knowing that these individuals will be dedicated and dependable employees can leave a positive impression when discussed during an interview.”

So while I probably won’t mention my crying jags in a bear costume to my future interviewers,Terry writes that my prior experience in customer service “will definitely show a strong work ethic, which can be a long-term benefit for both the employer (i.e. great customer service, increased revenue) and prospective employees (i.e. development of skills, promotions).”

As the 2013-2014 academic year kicks off, those students who endured their summer jobs can reflect on the horror that was with a smile on their lips, and a new line on their resume.

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