If you took a summer job to make a little extra cash but figured once fall began you'd be done with it, consider this: That summer job just might be your ticket to full-time work. Employers take less risk in hiring you for the summer, but can see how reliable you are for more permanent roles. You've already learned the ropes at your company, and it's easier to keep an employee than to train another.
If your summer job is one you'd like to have year-round, here are some tips to ensure you're the best candidate for that permanent position.
1. Start with a company you like. If you're handing out prizes to kids at a theme park, but you want to work at a newspaper, this might not be the job you want to make permanent. Instead, aim for part-time summer work at a company you'd ideally love to work for full-time. Even if you're unable to get the job of your dreams for the summer, you've at least got your foot in the door to be considered for that role down the road.
Everyone starts at the bottom. So while you may not be qualified as a senior writer, do apply for an intern or junior writer position, for example.
2. Prove yourself. Many college kids don't take summer jobs seriously, so it's fairly easy to stand out in this regard. Show up on time. Do your job well. Ask for additional responsibilities. Talk to your boss about what it would take to stay on past the summer—and do so early so you have the chance to meet (or exceed) his or her expectations.
3. Find out what jobs are available. If you dream of becoming a chef, you might not be ready at the end of the summer to run a kitchen. But a line cook or some other kitchen role might be a good stepping stone. Realize that it might take a few months (or years) trying out different roles before you've gained enough experience for that dream role.
4. Keep track of your accomplishments. Don't just do the bare minimum; go beyond. Whether it's reorganizing the file system, or coming up with a new, more efficient way of doing things, keep a list of your achievements over the summer. Then, when it's time to pitch your boss on hiring you through the fall, provide the list and maybe throw in some ideas about how you can continue to help the company with your amazing creativity.
5. Make friends. The more people you know at your summer job, the greater your chances of getting a full-time position internally. Don't brown nose to do so, but do make an effort to network with people in different departments. When it comes time to apply for that full-time role, ask those who know you best for reference letters.
6. Stick with it. A summer job may be just that—a summer job. If it's a company you really like working for, don't give up. Make sure your application is at the top of the list for next summer. And with any luck, your persistence will eventually get you that full-time role.
Summer jobs aren't just a way to make a quick buck in between semesters. They can be great training tools to help you get the career you want, and can help an employer see the benefit in hiring you permanently. Choose your job carefully, and work to prove that you're a shining star.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.