Summer Jobs: How Seasonal Work Helps Your Career

While the long, sunny days of summer bring thoughts of flip-flops, outdoor fun and BBQs, it’s also a time when many young people consider finding a summer job. It’s a smart move. Whether you are a college student who depends upon summer work to help with tuition, or a recent high school or college grad considering your next move, taking a job for the summer doesn’t just build bank – it helps develop important qualities you’ll need in your future career.

Communication & People Skills

First jobs are an opportunity to discover the strengths and weaknesses in how you communicate and interact with others. Use this time to be honest about where you could improve your conversational skills, both verbal and written, and take every opportunity to practice. Ask questions when assignments are unclear, communicate your progress through tasks, and discuss upcoming projects with coworkers and managers. Then be attentive when others are talking; strong listening skills are as important as speaking when it comes to clear communication.

Summer jobs also help develop strong people skills, a “soft skill” that includes your ability to problem solve, deal with conflict and criticism, and understand people who are different from you. In every job, you will work with people from all walks of life and encounter tricky problems. Empathy, patience and persistence are assets when it comes to these issues. If your summer job is in hospitality or retail, you will quickly learn the value of friendly eye contact and how to manage customer complaints without taking them personally. In jobs that aren’t customer facing, you will likely be part of a team where people skills help get the job done and make a good impression.

Self Awareness

Working summer jobs can help you explore career options, discover industries you find engaging, and even work that isn’t a good fit. For instance, many young people get summer jobs in restaurants, with catering businesses, or in the hospitality industry where interacting with customers is part of the work. Some people find this enjoyable, some think it’s just okay, while others find it extremely challenging. During your summer work experience, you may discover you prefer physical jobs to desk work in an office. Be wary of making snap judgements, however. It takes time to fully understand what a job entails. Follow through on any summer work commitment you make and use what you learn to help better focus your next job search.

A Strong Work Ethic

Working a summer job shows you take your responsibilities seriously and are reliable. Simply showing up everyday and giving your all to your work is a more powerful quality than many people think. This is something that is noticed and appreciated by managers. When the time comes for recommendation letters and references, your commitment to your summer job will serve you well. It’s also possible for your summer job to evolve into a career.


It’s never too early to start building your professional network. Spend breaks talking with bosses and coworkers about their career trajectories. Many people are happy to share stories of their successes and mistakes along the way, all of which can be learning experiences for you. It’s possible you will even find a career mentor in the process. If you work in an office environment, be sure to invite coworkers out for coffee to help foster professional bonds that can extend beyond your immediate position. If you haven’t yet created a LinkedIn profile, now’s the time to build one and ask people to connect.

Time Management Skills

It can be hard letting go of the unstructured summers you knew as a kid, but working year round doesn’t have to be an unpleasant reality. Working a summer job can actually help you develop planning and organizational skills that will help you better enjoy the precious time off you do have. Research fun summer weekend and evening events such as concerts or street fairs, organize a backyard BBQ, schedule outings with friends and family.

Summer jobs are invaluable experiences for gaining real-world experience and developing interpersonal skills. You also never know if a part-time opportunity will grow into a full-time job or even a career. Don’t worry about missing out – the summer days are long and there’ll be plenty of sunshine to enjoy after work.

Contact us to find out about summer job opportunities.