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Vol 39  No 12
Apr. 5, 2007


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Student View

By Jillian Terry

Jumpstarting your summer job search

Well, it’s that time of year again. While you may not be able to see it from beneath your enormous pile of school work left to finish, the end of the semester is fast approaching, bringing with it the beginning of the dreaded summer job search.

The thought of freshly-printed resumes and nerve-wracking interviews haunts much of Memorial’s student population this time of year, making an already competitive job market even tougher to enter. Facing the transition from the classroom to the workplace is a feat for even the most experienced workers, especially those looking for a position in their field of study. While some jobs are fine for making fast cash, for many, a meaningful summer job means more than just answering phones or selling the latest fashions.

Of course, finding this mirage of life-changing employment is easier said than done. Many of those coveted positions in fields relating to post-secondary study are not openly advertised, leaving the traditional help-wanted-sign search fruitless. In this instance, it seems that the old adage claiming that “it’s all in who you know” rings true – making contact with prospective employers before the summer student rush is one of the best ways to find that lucrative job you’ve been thinking about all semester. A couple of strategic e-mails mentioning the fact that you’re in the market for employment – without begging for an interview – can be even more effective than the often-used random resume distribution method.

Look for professionals in your field who may need assistance in their current research endeavours. Whether it is with the government, at a museum, or in a laboratory, projects of all sorts continue throughout the summer, despite most students’ academic vacation status. Professors can often serve as a great first contact to point you in the right direction, especially if you prefer to work in close proximity to the university campus at which you’re studying. If you’re going home for the summer, be sure to touch base with instructors at your local post-secondary education or other professionals in your community so that you have a head start on the job hunt before you get there.

Knowing what kind of job you want – and the powers that be that may eventually hire you – is one thing, but actually landing the position requires a whole new set of tools. By this point, the majority of students have heard about the importance of a strong resume when looking for employment. However, because the summer job search brings out so many university students, many of whom have excellent resumes, something else is needed to distinguish a good candidate from a great one.

An interesting and eye-catching cover letter may just do the trick. Mention issues pertinent to the job you’re applying for instead of simply generic statements of your willingness to work hard and take charge. By customizing your cover letter, the employer sees that you care about the position, and that they’re not receiving the same photocopied letter you sent to 20 other businesses. You can even attach relevant materials to your resume – if you’re looking for a job in photography, attach a print of one of your own photographs, or if you want to work as a research assistant, send along a recent paper that you wrote for a class. In many cases, these extra additions can edge you above the rest of the competition.

So imagine that, by following all these handy hints, you’ve got your dream summer job. Now what? By working hard and taking note of what goes on in your workplace, you can learn valuable skills that aren’t found in your textbooks. And remember to have fun – this is your summer vacation, after all.

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