Student guide to summer jobs

A purely practical guide for students who are hoping to bag a decent summer job. Packed with hints on searching for vacancies, tips on pulling off the perfect job interview and how to be savvy with your CV. Job done!

[STARTS: Part time jobs]

[pull quote] “Make a target list of suitable businesses”

[pull quote] “Interviews can range from deadly formal to a relaxed chat”

[head] Summer Jobs: how to bag a good ’un!

[sell] As the school term draws to a close the search begins for that elusive part time job. But follow Michelle Garnett’s hints and you could soon be at the forefront of the hunt.


Shifting boxes, mucking out dog kennels, delivering leaflets, washing up greasy pots… they might not feature in your future career plans but when it comes to earning cash during the holidays dull, dreary and dirty jobs can be just the ticket. “I spent three months on the production line in a pork pie factory,” says 18-year-old Clare who’s due to start her law degree in September. “Once I got used to the repetition of popping pies into boxes I had a laugh with the other workers. I put my wages straight into my ‘car fund’.”

Clare had hoped for an office job in one of the local law firms but didn’t start looking until the first day of the holidays. “All the temping jobs had gone by the time I asked so I had to settle for the factory job, but I still learnt some valuable work skills. I just wish we didn’t have to wear the naff hair nets – they ruined my street cred!”

Kieran was luckier when he got his first summer job at the age of 16. “I’m mad about films and was dead chuffed to get a job at our local video store. We watched movies all day while serving customers and got to borrow dvds for free. It helped that I went for a job I was really passionate about as it was obvious I was never going to slack off work. I stayed there part time until I went travelling last October.”

It’s great to find a job you enjoy, but if your top priorities are good wages and flexible hours, don’t be surprised if the actual work isn’t very exciting. On the flipside, if your top priority is fun 24/7, be prepared for a less substantial pay packet and unsociable hours.

But how do you actually go about snagging a juicy job in the first place? There are three stages: The job hunt, the job application (your letter and CV) and the job interview, and each require some serious consideration before you dive in.

[head] The hunt begins

First off, here’s a few hints for starting the search:

• Network: Before trawling through the local paper try the word-of-mouth route. Ask your parents to sound out their friends; quiz your next door neighbour, local newsagent, teacher, Aunty Brenda… And always have copies of your CV to hand out.

• Use local agencies: They’ll arrange temporary jobs with employers, dealing with any paperwork, negotiations or worries on your behalf.

• Limit your areas of search: Think about how you’re going to travel to work, then only go for jobs that you can reach without resorting to teleportation!

• Cold call: Make a target list of suitable businesses and phone them up. Try: “Hello, I was wondering who I should speak to about the possibility of any part time work over the summer months…”

• Be imaginative: As well as the usual shop, office and factory work think about other possible ventures, like dog-walking, baby-sitting, gardening, cleaning, or even setting up your own business making use of your talents.

• Be positive!: You’ll be up against a lot of competition so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not an instant success. Rather than welding your hands to your X-Box do some voluntary work – it might not bring in the moolah but it’ll look good on your CV and could lead to paid-work in the future.

Good luck!


[Separate box out]

[head] Be savvy with your CV

“What’s the point in writing a CV if I’ve never had a job before?”… When offering your services to someone you don’t know, you need to tell them about your skills and interests to help them build up a picture of you. Stick to one side of A4 paper. Here’s what to include:

• Your name and contact details, plus date of birth.

• Any qualifications you have plus info about previous jobs.

• Details of other achievements such as ‘organised sponsored swim to raise money for Oxfam’ and info about any responsibilities eg babysitting; being a prefect at school.

• Useful skills eg highly organised; a whiz with computers, fluent in German.

• Your interests and hobbies.

• Whether or not you have a clean driving licence.

• Two ‘references’ – adults you’re not related to – who can confirm your good character. Perhaps a teacher, youth worker or friend of the family. Always ask their permission first.

Tailor your CV to each job. If you’re applying to your local sports centre you might want to focus on your sporting achievements.

[separate panel]

[head] Top 10 interview tips

Well done! You’ve bagged an interview. Here’s how to give it your best shot…

1. Dress appropriately: Wear an outfit that suits the position you’re applying for.

2. Swot up: Prove you’ve got some knowledge of the company and you’ll score extra points.

3. Be prepared: Standard questions often include “What skills can you bring to the job?”; “Why do you want to work for this company?”; “How do you react in stressful situations?” You’d be wise to have some answers ready.

4. Get some practice in: If you’ve never been to a job interview before do a spot of role play with a friend or parent beforehand. Interviews can range from deadly formal to a relaxed chat over a cuppa.

5. Arrive early: “My bus was late”… “I couldn’t find the office”… “I was abducted by aliens”… Turning up late with a flimsy excuse is a bad start.

6. Be polite to everyone: The old lady you bump into at the front door might be the owner of the business; the shy 20-year-old lad who shows you in might be your potential supervisor.

7: Remember names: It doesn’t sound good if you refer to your potential employer as “Er, that man I spoke to on the phone…”

8. Keep eye contact: Try to look the interviewer in the eye when answering questions.

9. Sit up straight!: Feet on the desk, chewing gum and answering your mobile mid-interview are out.

10. Ask questions: “What hours will I be required to work?” “Will I be provided with a uniform?” This is a chance for you to find out more about the job.

[circle]  Know the law: Employment law changes all the time. For the most up to date info visit and click on Information For Employers.


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