Many of us have experienced it: the mid-summer blues and the struggle to wake up and head out to our summer jobs. Our arms are tired from scooping ice cream, we’re sick of the awkward tan lines left by our lifeguarding bathing suits and if we hear the words “summer camp color war” one more time we think we might scream. Whether you’re waitressing, working at the mall or babysitting, by mid-summer, it can get pretty tough to make it through the home stretch of your job. But before you quit in a moment of impulsivity or just serious stress, take a deep breath: I’m providing you with six reasons to stay motivated at your summer job as a college student.
- Your job is a resume builder
We all know how important writing the perfect resume is in getting your first after-graduation job. Adding summer jobs, even ones that are duds, will add to that resume perfection. So maybe it’s a little painful to bring yourself to your job every day this summer, but adding it to your resume might help you get your dream job one day. When that happens, you’ll be thankful!
If you’re working part-time jobs scooping ice cream or standing behind a retail counter, these resume builders will show your ability to learn a skill set quickly and work cooperatively with others in a professional setting. Remember that even the smallest of jobs can connect back to the career you want for the rest of your life.
That’s what Kelsey, a junior at Indiana University, does with her summer job. “My daily tasks can become tedious, so I tried figuring out a way to stay motivated,” she says. “I try to connect each task with my personal and professional aspirations.”
Shannon Curtis, the director at Assumption College’s Career Development & Internship Center, agrees that part-time jobs can add to your resume. “You’re not just listing off … the responsibilities you have in a summer role, but effectively communicating what skills are going to be transferrable to what you’re looking to do,” she says.
So if you work in retail and are looking to get into business after graduation, don’t just list on your resume that you folded clothes and worked a cash register. Talk about the customer service experience you received and the things you learned about operating a business. Making connections from your summer job as a lifeguard to what you want to do in life can be tricky and might require some creativity, but it’ll add meaning to your work and strength behind your resume.
- The perks of your job
Ah, yes, job perks: the exact reason why you chose the summer job you have. With employee discounts at the store you man the cashier for, or free dinners at the restaurant you waitress at, job perks are everywhere. Whatever your job is, try to focus on these small perks when you’re feeling down about your work!
“The discount from my retail job definitely did my wallet more harm than good for the first month I worked,” says Sarah, a freshman at Framingham State University. “After a little bit, though, it became the best thing ever. I don’t see myself leaving my job because I refuse to pay full price for jeans.”
- You’re making money
Remember how awful it felt during finals season when you ate cereal for three meals a day because you couldn’t afford anything else? Remember when you were excited for this job because then you’d be able to buy real food? Despite being sick of your job, you’ll be thankful when you return to school in the fall with a fuller bank account and the ability to buy real meals.
“I think about the money I will have and that’s about it,” says Kourtnie, a senior at Assumption College, about her waitressing job.
Remember that the job market out there is tough — whether you’re working a big-time paid internship or taking orders at the local coffee shop, you’re lucky to have a paying job. So many people today aren’t able to get a job like you have. If you’re feeling the mid-summer job slump, try heading into work knowing that you’re lucky to even have a paying job that you’re sick of.
- You can bond with your coworkers
Nothing ruins the workplace mood like the curmudgeon who heads in with a bad attitude. Remember that your job might be menial, but your fellow coworkers can be your friends. Instead of heading into your job with a bad attitude, try enjoying the company of those you work with!
That’s what Allison, a recent graduate from the University of New Hampshire, did with her summer job. “I was friendly and kind to fellow employees,” she says. “It felt good to make other people feel good, which helped me get through the rest of the summer.” A positive attitude is infectious in a work environment, and knowing that you made at least one person smile is a good way to get through your job.
And remember that quote, “misery loves company”? It’s pretty true. Maybe the job you’re working at stinks, but the people you’re with don’t! Amy, a junior at Emerson College, dealt with her less-than-glamorous summer job by befriending her fellow employees. “Having a bad summer job is way more manageable when you have people to commiserate and complain with,” she says. “We learned to laugh together at how terrible the job was.” A few qualms here and there are okay — just read the reactions of your coworkers, and make sure they’re comfortable and not annoyed.
- You’re giving back
If you’re spending your summer doing unpaid volunteering, the light at the end of the tunnel might be a little bit harder to see. When the lack of pay for all of your hard work is the only thing you can concentrate on, try to remember why you decided to volunteer in the first place.
“I spent all last summer volunteering on this sustainable farm,” says Kate, a sophomore at Boston University. “It was wicked hard work, and most of the summer I was really mad I was working on a farm instead of at the beach because I wasn’t getting paid. But then I would always remind myself I was giving back to the environment.”
Whether you’re volunteering to build a resume, support a cause you believe in or simply to get good karmic vibes, remember that volunteer work can be life-changing. Instead of concentrating on a nonexistent paycheck or how hard the work is, think about all of the good you’re doing.
- Networking, networking, networking!
Remembering that every job is an opportunity to network is the best way to get through a job you don’t enjoy. It’s also a good way to remember to always put forth your best effort, because you never know who could be a reference for you in the future.
Nicole, a senior at Assumption College, keeps this in mind with her job. “I kept telling myself that I want to use this place as a reference [and] take advantage of connections, and I couldn’t do that if I left,” she says. In a world where employment is a game of knowing the right people, it’s important to make sure those people are impressed by you.
It’s easy to think that a part-time summer gig won’t land you with many connections, so it’s okay to be lazy or provide bad customer service, but that’s not the case. When you’re working as a waitress or being a camp counselor, you never know whom you’re going to run into. A camper’s parent could be the CEO of your dream company, a customer at your restaurant could know someone at a school you’d like to teach at, or your fellow retail worker’s cousin could work for the admissions department of a grad school you’re interested in. You should always try to do impressive work no matter how small your job may seem.
“Get to know people and learn a little bit more about them,” Curtis says. “Introduce yourself, put yourself out there … and make sure you’re branding yourself in a positive light.”
Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these networking opportunities by connecting with coworkers and supervisors on LinkedIn or by exchanging emails (or even social media handles, when appropriate). Showing interest in your field and an eagerness to learn more is great for personal branding and for impressing potential bosses.
Remember, the mid-summer job slump is a natural thing. We’re all sick of waking up early, dealing with customers and seeing sunny days pass us by while we have to work. While the light at the end of the summer is coming closer into view, keep in mind the benefits of your job and remember that it’ll all be worth it.
Shannon Curtis, Director at Assumption College’s Career Development & Internship Center