5 ways summer jobs can help launch your career

You’re getting more than just a paycheck. The skills you learn at your summer gig can pay off big time.

5 ways summer jobs can help launch your career

Your summer job can offer skills that you'll use in your future career.

Whether you spend the summer waitressing, lifeguarding, scooping ice cream, or doing an internship, summer jobs teach valuable skills that will come in handy after you head back to school.

“Career opportunities almost always come through networking, many from contacts at past summer jobs,” says Jennifer Lee Magas, a clinical associate professor of public relations at Pace University. “Your interaction with colleagues, quality of work, willingness to go above and beyond, and staying in touch are all essential elements in order to establish quality connections and get the most out of your summer job.”

Standing out from your co-workers can really set you up for your post-grad gig. “Be proactive in asking for more projects and responsibilities. Look for opportunities to assist co-workers and volunteer for assignments that interest you,” Magas says. “Put in that extra effort—you might find that it really makes a difference with your boss.”

Monster spoke to experts to find out the skills you can gain before heading back to campus.

An A+ work ethic

You never want to be the workplace equivalent of the person on a group project who contributes nothing to the group. Instead, be the dependable one who everyone counts on to make stuff happen.

“Being on time, being dependable, and knowing that others are counting on you to do your part are skills that employers expect all recent graduates to possess,” says Jessie Lombardo, the director of career development at the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Skills to include on your resume: teamwork, dependability, team player

A sky-high EQ

You could be the editor of the school paper and the captain of the soccer team and still not know how to collaborate with co-workers. It’s not enough to be smart and do a good job—you also have to be someone people want to work with every day.

“The hardest part of any job is learning how to navigate people, personalities, and politics,” says Cynthia Howard, founder of the Tampa, Florida–based executive coaching firm Ei Leadership. “You will gain experience in dealing with different personalities, handling the conflict that can show up when there are deadlines and pressure, and learning more about what might trigger you.”

Skills to include on your resume: problem solving, negotiation skills, teamwork

A chill demeanor

From fielding angry tweets to handling customers who think the store’s 30-day return policy is simply a suggestion, you’ll be faced with tricky situations at any job. The key is to keep your cool and figure out a solution. As Taylor Swift would say, “You need to calm down.”

“Speaking to customers, mediating conflicts, and solving problems often comes down to how best to communicate to diverse groups and generate ideas on how best to achieve a solution that works for everyone and achieve the best results,” says Lombardo.

Skills to include on your resume: Customer service–oriented, strong communication skills, troubleshooting

An ability to prioritize (and juggle)

We aren’t talking about juggling in the literal sense. When you have a to-do list longer than a CVS receipt and assignments from a dozen people, you need to get organized.

“Prioritization helps you identify the most important tasks so you can give them more of your attention, energy, and time. In essence, you have the clarity needed to spend more of your time on the right things,” says Ericka Spradley, founder of the Charlotte, North Carolina–based executive coaching firm Confident Career Woman.

Skills to include on your resume: time management, organizational skills, self-motivated

A proven track record

Being asked to take on increased responsibility shows potential employers that you’re on the up and up. “Demonstrating future value to employers is one of the most effective ways

to get attention on your resume. Being promoted from cashier to shift manager is much more meaningful than the small raise in a paycheck,” says Lombardo. “Even when the summer job is not at all related to your future career, employers see value in leadership potential.”

Skills to include on your resume: leadership, team-oriented, management experience


Now that you’re killing it at your hot summer job, you’ll need to impress your future employers with a resume that highlights all your accomplishments and skills. Need help with that? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster’s Resume Writing Service. You’ll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume’s appearance and content, and a prediction of a hiring manager’s first impression. It’s a quick and easy way to make sure your skills are properly presented for maximum impact.