Making Your Summer Job Work For You


summer job picWhat happens when you can’t afford to take that unpaid internship and your summer job seems like the most random, thankless set of tasks you’ve ever done? Make your summer job work for you!

Once you figure out the qualities employers are looking for, you can discover how your summer job may actually be building you into a perfectly marketable employee! There is value beyond the skimpy paycheck. Communicate this to potential employers and you’ll elevate yourself out of that summer job and into that paid internship or position!

The first thing to do is get an idea of what employers are really looking for. The more specific to your ideal position you can get with employer desires, the better. There are a few ways you can do this.

  • Do some online research     linkedin     poynter     glassdoor    higheredjobs
  • Talk to upperclassmen/grads who work or intern
  • Speak with professionals in your field and your college administration about who they hire. Taking the time to ask shows great initiative and they will REMEMBER you.

Check out “The Top Ten Things Employers Look for in New College Graduates” on the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Website. A great list. (What they don’t include is that you probably need to know somebody too. Connections never hurt, and that’s why you shouldn’t be shy about reaching out early on to those in your field!)

Alas, you sigh and say, “How am I supposed to gain experience when I don’t have the valuable work experience they want? I work at a dairy farm but I want to be a [something other than a dairy farmer] !” Once you’re familiar with what employers want, the next piece is to realize  the value in your current experience. Employers don’t have time to look for it, you have to show them.

Regardless of the job, when discussing your work experience with a potential employer you have to show you had goals, took initiative to learn and grow and can now transfer your Top Ten Traits to their goals.


“Mr. Interviewer, I flipped burgers.”- Not impressed.   

“Mr. Interviewer, I exceeded my company quota of 800 burgers in a day and then took initiative to add to our blog in my free time.”  -Now you have the attention. And if Mr. Interviewer remembers you from last year when you asked him what employers look for? –He becomes Mr. Employer.

Here are some peers and professionals in the higher education field (big cheeses!) who’ve shared their WORST summer jobs. Believe it or not, some of these big cheeses were putting cheese on burgers when they were in your shoes too. And you know what? They learned. Find the value in your summer job.

Noah Fox, Director of Housing Operations: Tiffin University

“I would have to say one of the worst summer jobs I ever had was working on a duck farm (hatchery). As you can imagine, the work was very dirty. Cleaning out duck barns full of duck droppings was probably the worst part of the job.” “What did you learn?”

  • Learned value of hard work
  • Practiced effective time management
  • Built commonalities and fostered lasting professional relationships.

“These lessons I learned have helped me tremendously throughout my time in the workforce.”

Ty Krueger, SWACURH Regional NRHH Advisor

“I worked in the records/registrar’s office one summer and spent the entire summer taping documents to sheets of paper to be scanned.” “What did you learn?”

“The tape and paper has to be flat so it doesn’t jam the printer, hah!” “But seriously…”

“Even the most menial of tasks have a purpose and in the long run, helping someone is a valuable reward.”

Bill Pickett, Senior Director of Student Involvement: University of Nebraska, Omaha

“I worked at McDonald’s. I smelled like fries and nuggets every day. I opened for breakfast and then lunch, 5am-2pm in the summer! McInsane! I will tell you, I learned a lot.“What did you learn?”

  • I enhanced my ability to work with a team
  • Applied creative problem solving to meet company goals
  • Learned to work effectively under pressure
  • Honed customer service techniques and developed relationships with customers

“It was honestly like a housing job… you learn a variety of things that will help in any field from jobs you may not expect to learn from.”

There is a reason they call jobs “opportunities”. Any job, regardless of how many feathers, droppings, tape, or burgers are involved, is an opportunity to learn and grow. Take your Top Ten Traits with you to your next interview. When an interviewer sees the value in you, you will earn that paid internship or job and you’ll be prepared. By this time, you’re no stranger to hard work!

Share YOUR worst summer job and what you learned in the comment field below.


Social Media: A Resume Enhancer?


If you are trying to develop your social media useage start playing with some social media management tools!  via Social Media Monday: Social Media Management Tools

There are tons of articles, blogs and advice columns devoted strictly to the dangers and “don’ts” of social media. As these articles encompass valuable information such as not portraying yourself negatively or offering personal information to the public, they fail to concede the positive effects that can come from the channels. As a college student, you’re always on social media, in fact, you just about breathe it. Before you get out of bed in the morning you’ve checked your Facebook, cleared spam out of your e-mail and tweeted to the world about how you don’t want to get out of bed. Then, on your way to class, you’re tweeting about the girl in her pajama pants or how you wish you had a pair of rain boots.

So what, what’s the big deal? The cool thing about social media, besides being constantly connected to friends and family of multiple geographic locations instantaneously, is that if used correctly can really boost your resume. How? Carefully, and over time. There’s a bunch of ways you can use channels such as blog sites, LinkedIn and more to boost your professional credibility. This way, when potential job seekers go to view your resume and check you out on social channels (yes, they do that now) they will not only be pleased to see non-incriminating content, but also may be impressed with your entrepreneurship. Using video sharing sites can be super beneficial to video blog or do product reviews. Blog sites may open up doors for you that allow you to be creative and express yourself. If you think these things may be of interest to you, here’s a few ideas and ways to get started.

1) Video Blogs– Over the past few years, there have been viral explosions of college kids making their own Youtube channels to video blog and do product reviews. Youtube is now populated with style gurus, make-up geniuses, and people showing step by step directions on how to create DIY products or fix broken electronics. Using a video blogging site such as this can allow you to find an area of interest and completely just “go with it”. If you love cooking and baking, show people what you’ve made and your recipes. Put some clips of how you cook the food or what ingredients are your favorite. Buy some products in a “product haul” and give your honest opinion. The most amazing part about this (besides having fun doing what you love) is that you grow a huge following from the community while also catching the eye of big businesses. Many of the “style gurus” that have made their name on Youtube get approached by companies of interest asking them to do videos reviewing their product or even  send them things to try out. This is a way to get yourself in the professional industry, without even really trying to. Remember, be professional, and truthful. Credibility is golden.

How do I get started?: Buy yourself a webcam or use the one on your laptop. If you’re really feeling inspired, buy yourself a handheld video camera that you can set up and film. Make sure you can hook the data up to your computer, so you can edit to your heart’s content! Make a little title slide and animate it to match your area of interest. Pair this with a spunky tune and use it in every video. This creates consistency and strikes interest in your audience. Studies have shown that most people lose interest after about 5 minutes, so keep it short, and sweet! Make an account on your favorite video blogging site and pave your way to success!

2) LinkedIn LinkedIn is a professional website where you can network with professional contacts either in your direct industry, or industries of interest. You can upload your resume, share articles and join groups much like in Facebook. Here, you can be social in a completely professional environment. You can build your professional profile and get your foot in the door with potential employers. You can even stay in touch with colleagues and friends or browse for job openings. If you’re interested in paving a professional outlet for yourself while being in college, that may just be a great idea. Remember, keep it professional. LinkedIn isn’t for posting pictures of your nephew riding his bike or uploading your savviest Instagram shots (unless you’re in a professional photography industry).

How do I get started? Head on over to and sign up/register. Follow all of the instructions and validate your e-mail to finish the process. Similarly, you can log into LinkedIn by linking your Facebook account. This may be something you want to think about, as it gives side links to your other social media outlets. If you’d rather not disperse your Facebook into the professional world as of yet, skip this option and sign up through the registration form on the left. Once you’ve registered, upload your resume and start building your professional profile. Start finding connections and interacting with them, as well as searching for groups that interest you to join. Really learn from the atmosphere here and try to apply it little by little to your everyday life. This is a great way to prepare you for graduation and landing that first real job.

3) Instagram… What? Yes!– Here’s the deal. Instagram IS used daily by people uploading pictures of their Starbucks or dogs sitting at restaurant tables (why is this such a fad? My dog gets in trouble for sitting UNDER the dinner table). BUT, there are exceptions to this rule. Many young entrepreneurs are now using Instagram as an outlet to spread the word about their goods and services. Example? I’ve seen copious amounts of girls making jewelry (some of it’s really cute and fairly inexpensive.. see and spreading word about it through their Instagram. Not only are they creating a “voice” but they are also building individual relationships with their community through such a great channel. The added bonus is that although Instagram is mostly targeted to the X/Y generations, people of all ages are now joining and sharing. This opens a huge market up to these young-sellers so that they may see increased revenue from efforts other than just selling their products online. Also, some of the biggest brand names we know and love today, Shoe Dazzle, Betsey Johnson, Her Campus and more are creating their voice through Instagram; uploading pictures of office fun, snapping pictures of their cute new merchandise, showing the faces behind-the-scenes and more. This is an excellent way to really grow relationships with your customers, which builds trust and credibility. Plus, it’s fun for you, too!

How do I get started? It USED to be that the only people who could use the Instagram app were Iphone users. Now, you Android users can share your creative photos as well. You can even use Instagram-esque capabilities from your Windows desktop by using Instagrille. If you want to check out how to maximize your Instagram skills(z) here’s an interesting article from Tech News Daily on how to make the most dramatic effect with your photos. Create an account on Instagram, snap a few photos, edit and submit! You can search users and #hashtags to grow your audience and follow some people of your own! Market your goods or services in a fun and friendly way, but don’t spam it! One or two posts a day should do it, and make sure you think creatively about how to market so that you set yourself apart from the rest!

4) Blog It Up– One of the absolute best ways to make a professional profile for yourself is to start blogging. Write. As much as you want. About what interests you. Why? Writing is a great form of expression, and people love to read things from the latest news stories, gossip columns, DIY crafts, recipes, movie reviews, and more. You can tailor your blogs to be completely based on style if you want; what’s hot, what’s not. What pairs well, and what celebrities nailed the VMA outfits on the head. Make sure you really make sure to be professional in your writing. Check your grammar, use credible information/sources, try to be un-biased (unless you want your voice to be in support of one case or another), and most importantly, write about things your audience can interact with you on. If you’re going to use writing for professional purposes, try to leave your personal information out of this blog. Maybe create a separate, more personal blog that only you, or a select few, know about. That way your personal information isn’t compromised and you aren’t mixing personal life with a potential profession. Blogging is a great way for you to polish up your writing skills and create a voice for yourself. Many businesses are looking for young professionals who can come up with new and innovative ways to create their company voice, and may be really impressed with the way you conquered the task on your blog.

How do I get started: Browse the web for your favorite blog format of choice. Maybe it’s WordPress, maybe it’s Tumblr. This is your chance to show how creative you are, so be creative and start writing.