How Should College Students Spend Their Summers?

by Kaitlin Edleman | April 22, 2015

  • My Vault

Although many college students have had their summer jobs and internships locked down for months, others are only now considering how to spend their three month-long breaks away from classes. Many students face the choice between a “professional” internship working for a company like Northwestern Mutual or a “fun” summer job like waiting tables or lifeguarding.

The pros of an official professional internship are obvious. Most importantly, college students may be able to leverage a summer internship into a full-time job after graduation with the company for which they interned. Additionally, that company may only hire entry-level professionals from its intern pool.  Even if the internship doesn’t turn into a full-time job, it still provides the opportunity to network with the company’s employees who likely have friends and contacts within the industry.

Moreover, a professional internship provides college students with valuable resume talking points, allowing them to show that not only do they have a demonstrated interest in a particular field, but that they have also acquired some entry-level experience.

Working in a professional internship may also assist students to determine whether the corporate office environment is one in which they want to spend five days a week until retirement. A small stint in an incompatible work environment can prevent students from entering into a career field they may end up hating before they have invested too much time and energy.

Conversely, a fun summer job allows students to gain work experience (and earn money) without sacrificing their last few precious summer days of their youths. Often jobs such as camp counselor provide more flexible schedules and the chance to be outside. Most employees will be stuck inside an office for the rest of their careers, putting off this fate for one last summer might not be such a bad idea.

Although students who opt for the fun job route may have to be more creative with their job descriptions, they can still demonstrate leadership and work ethic. Maybe they were the designated closers at their restaurants or swim team coaches.

Additionally, while the networking opportunities might not be as obvious when spinning a whistle all summer, job connections are often found in the most serendipitous locations. 

Fun jobs also might make your resume stand out and be more relatable. I worked at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse before law school, and it was always the first thing interviewers asked about.

Regardless of the path chosen, taking advantage of the summer break to gain work experience is critical for college students. College won’t last forever, sadly, and students will eventually have to get full-time jobs. Having something to put down on a resume makes the job hunt infinitely easier.

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READ MORE:

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Great Jobs: What I've Learned from the Best Jobs I've Held
Bad Jobs: What I've Learned from the Worst Jobs I've Held

Filed Under: Job Search | Networking | Workplace Issues

Tags: college students | job search | summer internships

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