Let’s face it. Although most Telfer students were hoping to land a summer job in their field of study, many spent the last few months selling clothes or serving food. Sometimes, one simply has to pay the bills or to start somewhere. If you think your last summer job or current part-time job is inconsequential with regard to your professional journey think again. Here is how you can use a seemingly mundane job as a stepping stone towards your success in the business world.
Build your resumé
Whether you work as a server at a local pub or as a sales representative in a department store, you have the opportunity to gain one of the vital elements of a strong resumé: transferable skills. Don’t focus so much on your menial duties, but on the way you perform them and on the skills you acquire while doing so:
Accuracy and effectiveness: handling countless transactions per shift
Interpersonal skills: dealing with A LOT of customers in a courteous manner
Problem-solving skills: bringing forth solutions for customers and coworkers
Diplomacy: accommodating the needs of customers, politely and with a smile
Multitasking ability: performing numerous, competing tasks quickly and strategically
Teamwork ability: assisting kitchen crew and other waiting staff
Communication skills: communicating clearly the established script or pitch
Empathy: listening actively to customers in order to understand their concerns
Poise: staying calm and collected when dealing with difficult people
Creativity: offering a memorable, educational and fun experience to all participants
Leadership: leading by example as the captain of a group and building a team spirit
Work Ethic: abiding by the established code of conduct
You may be performing tasks that have nothing to do with accounting or management, but you are nevertheless operating in a professional environment and with other professionals that could, later one day, provide you with good lip service to help you land your dream job. If you conduct yourself in a way that befits a junior accountant or an HR manager, even as you are flipping burgers or selling sneakers, your work ethic will lead you where you want to be.
Expand your network
We often hear that more than 80% of job opportunities are found through networking. Take time to learn more about your colleagues and supervisors and their professional journey (not on how they spend their weekends ;0), and ask them to join your LinkedIn network. The key to your first business-related professional experience might just be the person working next to you.
Think your modest job at a department store, burger joint or daycamp isn’t all that impressive? Remember that most hiring managers had a similar job at some point, and that they truly understand the value of that experience. Perform your duties with pride and dignity knowing that you are building a foundation for something greater.
You may have been tasked with a clear set of responsibilities, but it does not mean that you shouldn’t go above and beyond your duties to improve the life of your coworkers, the satisfaction of your customers, or the effectiveness of day-to-day operations. If you want to boost your profile as a candidate for your ideal employer, don’t settle for the strict minimum: observe, think and take action.
- A task has been neglected, but clearly needs to be done? Display leadership by asking your manager if you could tackle it.
- You noticed a few things that could be improved? Assist management by suggesting strategic solutions.
- A coworker seems overwhelmed? Show initiative by offering assistance to your team.
- You deal with delicate situations or difficult customers? Strengthen your customer‑service skills by asking to debrief with management on a regular basis.
No matter how mundane they may appear, summer jobs are more than just a way to earn extra cash: they are shaping you as a professional.
If you need advice on how to present your recent summer gig like a pro on your resumé, book an appointment with a Career Centre professional.