Maximize What You Gain From Your Seasonal Gig

If you look at your summer job as merely a way to make some cash during the season, you'll be missing out on a major opportunity to network, develop contacts, gain valuable experience and save so your piggy bank grows. Here's how to get more out of the experience.

Young woman at work

Your summer job may be a short stint, but you can reap many rewards if you play your cards right. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your employment over these next few months.

Set a financial goal

Look at your cash flow, and determine how much of your earnings you'll like to have put aside by the end of the summer. If you don't set a specific goal, you may find you fritter away money, and come September, you'll have hardly any savings. Start by setting a budget and determining what percentage you can reasonably put aside from each paycheque, then set up automatic withdrawals into a savings account.

Stand out from the crowd

There may be many students working at the company you're at for the summer. How can you make an impression on the staff (especially management) so you stand out from the rest of them? Ask smart questions, volunteer for extra work, be there early and stay late. If an opportunity for social activities within the work context comes up (the company's annual summer picnic, for example), don't shy away from it; use such events to make a lasting impression. If the company has committees you can participate in, grab the chance. The more you interact with the staff, the better you can demonstrate your strengths.

Network with employees outside the work context

If you are invited out for lunch or for after-work drinks, go! This will give you the opportunity to get to know your co-workers on a more personal level, and when it comes time to hire junior staff once you've graduated from school, you will be the one they remember. Plus, your new contacts can always be great references. Be sure to connect with them on LinkedIn, and take the time to keep in touch once your summer job has ended.

Get reference letters

Even though you will make sure to keep in touch (see above), it doesn't hurt to get reference letters at the end of your summer employment. This way you'll have them on file and can easily provide them to future employers without having to chase down references.

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