How to Get a Summer Job as a College Student
Spring break recently ended and finals are a few weeks away. In other words, this is the moment to find a summer job or internship. Knowing how to get a summer job isn't exactly rocket science, and while the job market may be tough, there are opportunities out there. Whether you're looking for a technical placement that fits with your area of study, an internship to improve your skills, or a way to pad the savings account (or pay off student loans), there's no time to spare.
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We know all about sending countless resumes and cover letters into the dark abyss of the Internet. Never getting a response is downright frustrating and not getting an offer after an interview is disappointing and painful. After weeks of rejection you may start asking yourself if anyone knows how to get a summer job. The answer is "yes," and the trick is learning the correct approach.
Many tactics that work for fulltime job seekers also work for college students. In an interview with Forbes, best-selling author Ramit Sethi recommends three ways to prepare for an interview: research the needs of the hiring manager; set out clear reasons why you're the right candidate; and leverage an existing personal relationship with someone at the company. David Perry, author of Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0, outlines a strategy for a targeted search on his website that offers similar recommendations. He suggests finding and contacting people with the power to offer you a job - executives and higher-ups - but not those in human resources who "can only say NO!"
It's important to start the summer job search early because networking, even online, takes time. Many people are happy to help ambitious college students get a start in the "real world," but busy work schedules and family obligations may slow their response. Polite persistence is key - a courteous reminder every other week following an initial positive exchange is acceptable.
As you think about how to find a summer job, create a list of ideal jobs at target companies. This takes some introspection, but begin with what you want to accomplish before returning to school and then work your way back. Whether your answer is "make $3,000" or "learn how to program better," the stated goal will prompt you to evaluate the skills you already have and check for overlap with the skills you'll need to reach that goal. Don't be discouraged if you come up short. ERE.net, an online community of recruiters, lists a full 32 reasons why hiring recent college graduates is a sound idea. Much of the list applies to current students, as well.
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If you'd rather earn money than focus on skills this summer, consider speaking with recruiters and temp agencies. Again, starting this process early gives you time to build a relationship before the end of spring semester. These people are paid when you get hired and they know how find a summer job for college students because they regularly deal with companies that request seasonal and temporary workers.
Starting your search for a summer job now by networking with current employees at target companies or with recruiters and temp agencies gives you a leg up over your peers. So does crafting a proposal that addresses a company's needs, such as connecting to the next generation of customers or managing its online presence -- areas where students have a real advantage. Don't procrastinate. Many students won't be sending out resumes until the week after finals, but you'll already have solid connections and possibly an offer or two.