How to Turn a Summer Job into a Full-Time Gig

Your part-time summer job can make a more permanent impact on your career.

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Tim Tyrell-Smith
One great way to line up a new, permanent job is to land a part-time version first. During the summer, while all of your friends are busy at the beach or mall, you can better position yourself for a successful career.

By hunkering down and working hard at a part-time summer job, you can accomplish a number of key objectives, including adding to your work experience, creating leads, and, of course, generating a little extra cash.

But how do you turn a great part-time summer job into a permanent one?

Here are eight terrific ways to stand out and build social credibility during a summer job:

[See 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Internship.]

Arrive early and stay late.This may sound old-fashioned, but it will help you pass the first-impression test with your bosses and co-workers. It makes you look hungry for the job and is an obvious way to show off your interest. After all, a positive attitude is contagious.

Find a mentor. Look for someone who will not only train you but also guide you in the right direction. Someone you could spend additional time with during the day. Find a mentor who can support you during your time there as well as after you leave.

Schedule informational interviews. With your supervisor’s permission, invite key people—one by one—from each department for an early morning coffee or lunch and ask them questions about their job, similar to an informational interview. How did they get it? Did they always know what they wanted to do? What are their secrets to a successful career? This is great internal networking and a smart learning opportunity. Think about it as a mini on-the-job MBA.

[See Treat Your Career Like a SmartPhone.]

Special projects. Look for opportunities to take on a special project, one you can start and finish during your short stay. This will create a story you can share on your resume as well as detail during a job interview. Take good notes about the problem, your solution, and the result of your project. Then you can write great work accomplishments.

Take a class or seminar. Plan ahead and find a course to take during your summer job, one that will help you gain new knowledge or learn new skills to complement your work. See if you can negotiate to have your company pay for the class. Then offer to present what you learned at a staff meeting

Visit customers or vendors. This summer job is about making money, getting work experience, and networking with industry professionals, so take the opportunity to meet as many people as possible during your stay. Offer to get food and drinks for a customer meeting and then ask if you can quietly sit in the corner. Even if you end up not saying a word, you’ll get to see how business gets done—or not done. This is definitely an experience you can use or share down the road.

Find new friends and offer to help. This applies to anyone and everyone—outside your department, in the mail room, or in the lobby. Practice saying “hi” to strangers. Of course, you can’t let it become a distraction from the job you were hired to do, but then again you won’t get in trouble for being friendly.

[See Treat Your Career Like a SmartPhone.]

Express interest. After the summer ends, don’t leave without expressing interest in a permanent position. Not everyone asks, so if the experience was a good one, let them know you’d like to stick around. There’s nothing wrong with doing this along the way, but it’s generally better to stay focused on adding value, at least initially.

Succeeding in a summer job provides many benefits. A few of the best perks include a great addition to your resume, strong stories for job interviews, and the social credibility that comes with exposing your brand to a new crowd.

Tim Tyrell-Smith is founder of Tim's Strategy, a site that helps professionals succeed in job search, career and life strategy. Follow Tim on Twitter, @TimsStrategy, and share his 30 Ideas Book with job-seeking friends.