8 reasons why your summer job is important to your future career plans

What’s your summer job this year? Mowing lawns. Serving ice cream. Working at the mall. Organizing camp activities for kids. Loading shipments at a warehouse. Babysitting. The duties and job opportunities vary, but all share one thing in common: Great work experience.

“It wasn’t a real job, just something I did over the summer to make money.” Not so fast. In addition to the paycheck you’re earning, a summer job is great for building skills and gaining experience. So yes, it is a real job. And here’s a list of the eight items you’ll gain from it.

Skills. Future full-time job employers will hire you based on your skills set. You’re building these skills every day in your part-time summer job. The ability to work well and communicate with others, solving problems, managing multiple tasks at once. Employers value soft skills that are developed in any work environment.

A resume builder. Part-time and summer jobs are often the first jobs listed within the Employment section of your resume. Employers are more likely to contact applicants who have previous work experience.

References. References are people who can talk to future employers about your ability to perform your job duties. They are required for almost any job application. Past supervisors and coworkers that valued your contributions make great references.

Connections. When it comes to job searching, the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is partially true. Developing a strong skills set is important, but you learn about many opportunities through word-of-mouth. Talk to your summer job coworkers and managers about your career plans. You never know who might know someone in the profession you’re targeting.

The ability to work with others. In every job you’re going to have to work with people who are different than you. Different personalities bring opportunities and challenges to each work setting. Your summer job may be your first experience with this fact.

A peak at money management. With your first paycheck, you’re going to learn about taxes, social security and W-2 forms. You’re also going to see how far your take-home pay stretches in between paychecks. Now is a good time to attempt a budget.  

Multi-tasking. Your job duties will likely require juggling many tasks at once. Additionally, you may be managing your work schedule with other commitments, which is a good lesson in time management.

Learning what you like and don’t like. A summer job is a great time to find out what you like and dislike when it comes to job duties and work environment. Is it appealing if your job keeps you outside most of the day or would you prefer an office setting? Do you like that your work has routine tasks or would you choose a job with more variety?  Observations like these are important factors when considering future career choices.

Don’t dismiss the importance of your summer employment. The foundation for your career development starts somewhere. Why not this summer?


Accomplish any of these career to-dos in 30 minutes or less

Summer is either very relaxing (light course load) or extremely busy (classes, increased work schedule, etc.). Whether your summer schedule allows time to unwind or barely any time to breathe, you can still accomplish career-related tasks. Check out this list of seven items, each of which you can achieve in 30 minutes or less.

1. Begin building a resume. Take 30 minutes to write down your employment history, education and accomplished skills. This information becomes the foundation for your resume that you can write in small chunks throughout the summer and have ready by fall. See the Career Services Career Guide for tips and samples. Email Career Services or schedule an appointment with a counselor to have your resume draft reviewed.

2. Complete your EmploymeNC profile, including uploading a resume. EmploymeNC is an online job searching and career information tool offered by Career Services to CPCC students and alumni. Search for full-time and part-time jobs, learn about upcoming career events and receive informative Career Services emails.

3. Watch a Career Services video. Whether you want to learn how to make career decisions, write a resume, interview for a job or use LinkedIn, Career Services offers short step-by-step videos to provide assistance.

4. Start completing your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the social media resource for career and professional development. Watch the Career Services video about building your LinkedIn profile or attend a free LinkedIn webinar. Both provide great tips on what information to include in your profile and how to use LinkedIn effectively.

5. Visit Career Coach. If you’re still undecided regarding your academic or career interests, Career Coach is a great online tool for you to use. In just 30 minutes you can learn about job opportunities related to CPCC programs. All of the information is localized, which means the job statistics are regionally based.

6. Write and practice your elevator speech. If people ask you what your skills are, can you tell them? If you know your job interests, would you be able to talk about them in 30 seconds or less? An elevator speech is the tool to help you clearly and concisely discuss your qualifications as they relate to your career goals.

7. Learn about jobs related to your academic program. If you want to learn about jobs related to your A.A.S. degree, check out Career Coach (mentioned above). Students earning an AA or AS degree with plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to discover bachelor’s degree career options here.

Do you have time to spare and questions to ask? CPCC Career Services is open throughout the summer months. Now is a great time to meet with a career counselor to get your career and job search questions answered.

How do you answer “Tell me about yourself?”

It’s often the trickiest question you’ll hear during a job interview. It’s always asked at the very beginning and sets the tone for the rest of the meeting.

“So let’s start by you telling us a little bit about yourself?”

Answering this question is your “Shark Tank” moment. Your pitch to the recruiter could set the path for whether you’ll sink or swim during the interview.

Leave out long answers and personal info

  • Don’t tell them your name – they already know it.
  • Don’t volunteer your age, marital or family status, race or ethnicity – it’s illegal for recruiters to ask this information since it has no bearing on your application.
  • Avoid mentioning personal interests and hobbies – neither are relevant to your ability to perform the job well.
  • Don’t repeat your resume.

Start with a hook

Starting the conversation is sometimes the hardest part and causes you to leap into unnecessary or inappropriate information. Consider one of the following hooks to get started:

  • “First I’d like to thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.”
  • “I’m someone who is very excited to talk to you about this opportunity.”
  • “I’m looking forward to talking to you about the job and learning more about your company.”
  • “I’m excited to tell you what I can bring to this position and your company.”

These opening statements, and others like them, grab the interviewer’s attention and ask them to listen to what you’re about to say. Additionally, you’ve set the scene for providing your skills and qualifications.

Once they’re hooked, give them the elevator speech

After beginning the answer with a hook, launch into your elevator speech, or a brief highlight reel of your skills and qualifications related to the job. When preparing for the interview, list five skills you want the recruiter to know about. Write out a brief, scripted speech that touches on these five skills, using your hook as the introductory sentence.

Practice, practice, practice

You shouldn’t wing it when it comes to interview questions, especially this one.  Practice your answer in front of the mirror and in front of others. Pair it with solid eye contact and a genuine smile.

Know when to stop

Interview silence is so awkward that it frequently causes candidates to keep talking unnecessarily. Don’t let the silence suck you in.  When you’ve said what you want to say, stop talking and wait for the interviewer to proceed.