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School’s out for summer! 5 tips to get the most out of your summer job.

By Calissa Reid

On this day two years ago I was crawling out of bed much earlier than my typical 10 a.m. wake-up call, ironing my sleekest pair of dress pants and practicing a firm handshake for the first day of my summer job. I arrived at the building happy to be there, bursting with energy and ready to work. But after years of sleeping in during university— ain’t nobody got time for an 8 a.m. lecture— I was struggling to keep my eyes open by the end of the day.

Two years later, a few things have changed. Waking up at 10 a.m. is a rare treat, and the pants I am wearing today are far from the starched pants of days past (thankfully!), but my attitude coming in to work is largely the same. The days I spent here as a summer student made for one of the best summers of my life, and I’m so grateful that I got to stick around afterwards.

Many of you will be starting your summer jobs, practicums and internships on Monday. So I’ve gathered a few tips, from my own experience and from some experts, on how to make the most out of your summer employment.

IMG_2916One of the many days spent working (and laughing) with two of my fellow summer students, Brenna and Dylan. Miss you guys!

1. It’s more than just a summer job.

Whether you’ve scored a gig in retail or you’re doing an internship for your degree, this job is important.

A summer job gives you that much-needed break from school, income and, if you’re working in your desired field, your summer job can give you your first taste of what’s to come with your career.  You may also get the opportunity to stay on with the organization, or come back next summer, so make a great impression.

Take your job seriously. Have a positive attitude, get involved and treat everyone around you with respect.

2. Connect with your colleagues.

As a student, your summer job is one of the biggest networking opportunities you’ll get.  Identify people whom you’d like to learn from and work with, and talk to your supervisor about aligning with them for projects. You can learn just as much from a colleague as you can from a professor.

Don’t limit your networking to your superiors, either; you can build strong friendships and teamwork skills through working with your fellow summer students. I know I did!

3. Budget, budget, budget.

You’ve survived the dark ages known as the end of April, and soon you’ll be making money again! It can be tempting to spend that first paycheque on something fun. It’s OK to splurge a little bit, but remember that your time dedicated to a full-time job is temporary.

Save some of the money you’re making now for when you’re back hitting the books in the fall and you’ll feel much happier come April. Not all of us are finance majors, so most banks have student budget calculators to do the work for you.

4. Keep records.

For some reason, instructors love to ask students what they’ve done over the summer. I’ve had multiple classes where I’ve had to comment on my work experience or provide samples of some of the work I’ve done.

Ask your boss if you can keep copies of some of the non-confidential work you’ve done to use for a portfolio for the future.

5. Safety first.

 It wouldn’t be a Heads Up blog post without a mention of safety, would it? For many students starting their jobs for the summer, there will be a new employee orientation.  Those presentations can be long (my orientation was two whole days!), and you get a lot of information thrown at you, but try to remember the important bits.

If you can’t remember the specifics around safety for your position, check in with your supervisor to get a refresher course.

And most importantly, you have rights on the job. Check out Lauren’s post to learn more.

The few months I spent as a summer student taught me so much, and I made some great friends. If you’re starting a job for the summer, I hope your experience is as great as mine was.  Enjoy the time off school, and work smart and work safe!

Are you starting a summer job soon? Let us know about your experience in the comments or tweet us @HeadsUpAB


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