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Summer time, summer work: a quick guide to finding a summer job.

Summer. Just the world is a vacation for a school weary mind. But if summer holds the promise of carefree lazy days for some students, it is time to harvest money and experience for most.

Summer jobs can put cash in your pocket for fall tuition or a new drobe. They can also give you career-related experience that will pay off when you interview for a permanent job after graduation. And, sometimes, they give you a really clear idea of what you don't want to do for a living. More than one college student has gone back to school after toiling as a laborer sure of only one thing: Some other job had to be better than that.

Who Holds Summer Jobs?

Each year, the labor force swell during the summer months when high school and college students get their report card and pick up a time card. In 1991, the employment of 16-24 year olds was 2,331,000 higher in July than in April, much of it being summer employment.

The summer labor force often grows more than employment does, however, and job seekers outnumber jobs. For example, the U. S. Forest Service hired 17,000 summer employee in 1991, but it had thousands more applicants.

What can you do to improve your chances of being counted among the employed? Start looking now. When should someone begin looking for a summer job? Yesterday. Frank Philpot, the author of Three Months To Earn, writes, "It's possible to apply too early for a summer job, but it's hard to do." Inquiries for some jobs, such as those in National parks, can be made as early as November. Applications for some internships and government jobs must be filed in December, while the deadline for others is January. At the latest, your job search should be well underway by spring semester break.

Besided starting early, another way to improve your job prospects is to search widely. Don't restrict yourself to a narrow range of occupations or only a few potential employers. As already indicated, many more people want to work for the Forest Service than the Forest Service can employ. Go ahead and apply for the jobs that attract large numbers of applicants, but apply for some that you have a better shot at, too. The less desirable the job, the more likely you are to get it. More information about when to apply and how to find job leads appears later in this article.

You should also realize that you may not be able to find a job matter how careful you are. Some things you can do nothing about. For example, if the economy goes sour, summer jobs dry up fast. An employer doesn't need someone to fill in for vacationing workers when there isn't enough business to keep the regular staff busy. And in general, high school students have more trouble getting work than college students because of legal restrictions (see box) and employer preferences.

What options do you have if you are too young or the good jobs are all taken? A few jobs--such as delivering newspapers and babysitting--do not have legal age requirements. You might be able to find one of those. The alternative for older job seekers who cannot find a paying job is to consider one that doesn't pay. Volunteer work may be a worthwhiel summer experience. You won't make money; but you will improve your resume, which could translate into a better job next summer or after graduation.

What Can You Do?

The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) lists 12,000 job titles divided among nine major groups. In theory, any one of them could be a summer position. In fact, summer jobs are pretty rare in certain categories, such as executive or professional specialty. But that still leaves thousands of jobs in the other categories. Wherever there is a permanent job, there is a change that a summer job can be found. The following lists--which follow the order in the DOT--will give you an idea of the range of jobs to be done during your "vacation."

Professional, technical, and managerial jobs do not make up a large proportion of those available for a summer, although some--especially those at the technician level--are found by students majoring in the field. However, this category also includes some jobs in entertainment and recreation that employ many summer workers. Among the fields grouped here are engineering and surveying, computers, science, social science, medicine and health, education, and museums and libraries. Besides the professional and managerial occupations in these fields are such jobs as laboratory technician, drafter, teacher's aide, camp nurse, craft demonstrator, research assistant, and sports instructor. This is also the category for recreation aide, camp counselor, special counselor (music, arts and crafts, nature) and waterfront director (which usually requires certification as a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor). The entertainment jobs at theme parks, such as the folks who dress up as cartoon characters, are also included here.

The clerical and sales field is an obvious one to look at when considering summer jobs. The skills required for many of them can easily be transferred from one employer to another, meaning that it is in an employer's interest to hire fill-in replacements for vacationing workers. Word processing (if you know the program), typing, and filing are among the possibilities. Other business might need fill-ins for cashiers, bookkeeping clerks, stock clerks, message and mail clerks, receptionists, or duplicating equipment operators. Postal clerks and mail carriers also take vacations and must be replaced; inquire early at your local Post Office.

Many sales jobs open up during the summer. They can be of several types, such as telephone, door-to-door, store sales or demonstrator, ice cream vendor, and sporting events vendor. Unfortunately, because of a few dishonest operators, you must evaluate possible sales jobs carefully. Think about the product you are going to be selling. Is it something you or your family could use? Would you buy it at the price you'll be asking? Successful sales workers think well of the products they sell. You must also look carefully at your potential earnings. Will you have a salary, work for a commission, or earn a combination of salary and commission? Or must you purchase the goods, earning the difference between what you pay and what the customer does? Be especially cautious about any job in which you must pay money to earn money. Failure to sell goods purchased could mean that you would have less money in August than you did in May. Try to talk to a former or at least a current sales worker about earnings. All reputable companies will give you the names of people to talk to. A third point to consider, besides the product and your potential earnings, is the kidn of training you will receive. It should last at least 3 days to a week. You should not be encouraged to represent yourself as a market researcher or something other than a sales worker. If you have any doubts about the employer and it has been in business for some time, contact your local Better Business Bureau and the consumer and regulatory agency of your State or local government to learn if any complaints have been lodged against the firm. If the business is too new to have any record, trust your instincts; don't work for a company that you do not trust.

Service jobs are among the most common of those held by summer workers. They include cook, waiter, waitress, hostess, dishwasher, and other jobs in restaurants, as well as jobs with motels, hotels, and resorts, such as chambermaid or janitor. Golf course attendants, ride operators in amusement parks, ticket takers, cabana attendants, sightseeing guides, and locker room-attendants are also service workers.

Agriculture is the reason for the long summer vacation, so it makes sense that a lot of work gets done in the fields during this season. But not all these jobs are in the farm belt. Also included are greenskeepers, landscape laborers, and lawn-service workers. This category also includes jobs in fishing and forestry, such as deckhand, fis hatchery worker, forester aide, and logger.

People in processing occupations work with metals, chemicals, petroleum, food, and textiles. These jobs are located in factories, foundries, processing plants, and refineries. Workers in the machine trades are often employed in the same places. But in addition to machine operators, this group also includes mechanics and machinery repairers. Automotive mechanics and airconditioning installers are among the many occupations in this category that may offer opportunities for summer and employment. A third group employed in factories and shops are those in benchwork occupations, who might make anything from diamond earrings to dice.

The construction trades are classified as structural work occupations. Many of these occupations require years of experience and great skill in order to reach fully proficiency, but for every three or four skilled workers, there is a laborer whose chief qualification for the jobs is the willingness to do it.

The final category is the inevitable miscellaneous. It includes truck dirvers, taxi drivers, wharf laborers who unload fishing vessels, and sundry occupations in the recreation field, such as stage technicians, grip, and fireworks display specialist.

Where Can You Find Job Leads?

You can look for jobs in the newspaper classifieds, at employment agencies, or by going door to door in a local shopping center. And these are all things that you should do. But the first thing you should do is tell everyone you know that you are looking for work and ask them if they know of any openings. Be especially sure to speak to friends who are working or worked the previous summer. You can also ask your friends' parents for advice on finding a job. Most people find their jobs through informal referrals such as this.

Having spoken to people you know, it's time to spread your net wider:

* Visit your school's placement office.

* Tour the neighborhood looking for stores with help wanted signs and check out local bulletin boards.

* Contact the Job Service or Employment Service, an agency of your State's government, about summer listings.

* Consult Job Service officials, Private Industry Council officials, or local government officials who administer job training programs.

* Read the want ads daily.

* Contact local offices of the State and Federal government to learn of opportunities with those agencies.

* Look in the yellow pages for potential employers you had not though of.

* Go to the local library for books about jobs, directories of employers, and other information.

* Contact local service organizations, such as the Lions, which might have summer job referral services.

* Visit employment or temporary help agencies. (Make sure that you will not be responsible for a placement fee that cancels out your summer earnings).

* Do not use a job listing service, which will merely give you the addresses of businesses.

What Can You Work for?

When planning for summer employment, you might find it useful to think about why employers hire workers. Summer jobs fall into four categories: Year round jobs that you happen to hold during the summer, replacement positions for vacationing workers, jobs with businesses that are most active in the vacation season, and self-employment. These categories overlap considerably. For example, a chamber maid is a chamber maid whether working at a year-round hotel or a summer resort. Still, the classification gives you a framework in which to start identifying potential employers. A few occupations are usually listed after each kind of employer in the following discussion.

Year-Round Businesses. Obviously, any business that runs all year might have a position for a summer worker. The larger the business, the more summer jobs likely to be offered. If turnover in a job is high, positions are also likely to be easier to find. High turnover indicates that the jobs may not be very desirable, but for the few summer months that you'll be working, they may be perfectly adequate. Here are a few businesses to think about:

* Supermakerts: Checker, bagger, grocery clerk, stock clerk, produce clerk

* Department stores: Clerk, checker (cashier), stock clerk, wrapper, telephone order clerk, order filler, model

* Restaurants: Waiter, waitress, counter server, short-order cook, busboy, cashier, hostess

* Food carry out/delivery shops: Delivery people, cooks

* Mall stores: Each store has only a small staff, but taken all together, there are many potential employers. The mall itself may also hire guards and janitorial staff.

* Recreation centers and golf courses: Life guard, locker room attendant, greenskeeper

* Daycare centers: Daycare worker

* Nursery, landscape service: Landscape helper

* Gas stations: Attendant

* Auto dealers: Clerical worker, lot helper

* Office buildings: Guard, janitorial staff

* Factories: Machine operator

* Hospitals: Food service, janitorial work, lab assistant

* Federal, State, and local government agencies, including the Postal Service, highway departments, and park of recreation departments.

Summer Season Jobs. Many businesses operate only in the summer or greatly increase their staffs at that time in order to cater to the needs of vacationers. Many of these jobs will require relocating. If that is the case, make sure you know how much you will have to pay for accommodations, whether commuting from less expensive living areas is feasible, and whether your pay cancels out your living costs. The following are among the possibilities.

* Camps: Counselor, specialized counselor--such as for nature or crafts--waterfront director, cook, kitchen worker, maintenance worker.

* Resorts: Bellhop, chamber maid, desk clerk, caddie, lifeguard, cabana attendant, kitchen worker, waiter, waitress, ground crew

* National Parks Concessioners: Lodges and other facilities in the national parks are operated by concessioners. Contact each directly for employment information. The names of the concessioners are listed in some of the sources of information at the end of this article and can be learned from the headquarters of each park. Tour guides usually give the address for the park.

* Theme and amusement parks: Ride attendant; retail sales worker in a gift shop, concession stand, or food booth; costume character; ticket taker; parking lot attendant; crown control worker; janitorial services worker.

Internships are a special category of summer job. An intern is generally provided some training and an introduction into a professional field. Some internships provide competitive salaries, while others, such as ones on Capitol Hill, are virtually unpaid. No matter the salary, competition for internships is often very stiff, and applications must often be filed early in the spring at the latest. Directories or internships are available at libraries. Information is also provided by many college placement offices.

Self-employment. This will be the first resort for some and the last resort for others. Self-employment offers many advantages, such as the ability to set your own hours, but it also has notable disadvantabes, such as not knowing how successful you will be. In order to thrive, a summer business must be up and running quickly. You haven' enough time for a slow-growing enterprise to pay off. For this reason, in the words of Frank Philpot in Three MOnths To Earn, "The best possibilities for student business require very little capital, a little imagination, and lots of labor."

After you decide what to doy, you'll need to let people know that you do it. Post notices on bulletin boards in supermarkets, churches, community centers, and anywhere else you can. You should also distribute flyers around the neighborhood.

Just about anything that an employer will pay you to do you can do as a self-employed entrepreneur. Here are some frequently mentioned business for students:

* Tutor (Math, English, foreign languages, ESL)

* Disk jockey at parties and receptions

* Lawn and yard work (Mow, water, weed, rake, prune)

* Baby sitter or mother's helper (includes light housekeeping)

* Heavy housework (wash windows; clean up garages, basements, and attics)

* House, plant, or pet sitting

* Car detailing (washing and waxing cars)

* Party helper (serve, clean up)

* Dog-walker or pet-sitter

* Companion or reader to shut in

* Typist

* House painter

* Vendor at ball games or on the street

Applying for a Job

Advice concerning resumes, application forms, cover letters, and interviews could fill a book or a article. IN fact, it does fill an article entitled, "Resumes, Application Forms, Cover Letters, and Interviews," which appeared in the Spring 1987 Occupational Outlook Quarterly; reprints are available from the Government Printing Office for $1. Some pointers from the article are given below. You won't need cover letters or resumes for many summer jobs and the interview may be very informal, so don't let the following intimidate you if you are only looking for work in a fast food restaurant.

Resume. Keep it simple, with your name, address, and a telephone number at the top. Indicate the job you seek and list your education, special talents, and experience. Remember that experience does not have to be limited to jobs with steady hours or even paid jobs. When making out the resume, think of what characteristics the employer will be looking for. You'll want to emphasize different information depending on whether you want to work as a waiter or an office clerk.

Application form. When you visit employers, have a data sheet handy in case you are asked to fill out an application form on the spot. Forms usually ask for your name, current and previous addresses, phone number, Social Security number, employment history (again, before you put "none," consider listing babysitting or other odd jobs for neighbors). If you're given a form to complete at home, ask for a second copy, which you can use as a rough draft.

Cover letter. Simply say who you are and what you want, refer to the resume you enclose, and suggest that you will call to set up an appointment for an interview. Contact the office a week or so after mailing the letter to learn if you will be interviewed.

Interview. You may not have a formal interview, but when you apply for a job someone will size you up. Be ready for them with a neat appearance, a positive attitude, and a suggestion of the kind of work you want to do, while at the same time indicating that you are ready to do other jobs. Go alone. If you need a friend for moral support, let him or her stay outside. Bring along a resume to leave with the employer; you may also need proof of age, a driver's license, and your Social Security card.

Should you be interviewed, either in person or by phone, you might be asked questions like these:

* Why do you want to work?

* What are your interests outside school?

* What are your interests in school?

* What do you plan to do when you finish school?

* How are your grades?

* What hours can you work?

* How will you get to work?

* What do you want to do?

* What skills do you have?

* Why did you apply to this company?

* What other jobs have you held?

* What kind of salary are you looking for?

Employers often have very little flexibility concerning summer wages, so prepare for the last question by learning how much the job pays before you apply for it. Ask people who have the job and consult the books listed at the end of this article for salary information.

You might be given the opportunity to ask questions during an interview. Here are three to think about:

* Can you tell me about the job's duties?

* How much turnover is there?

* When will I hear from you?

Some Sources of Information

Several useful books and pamphlets are published each year concerning summer employment. The following is only a seelection. Visit the library to find others.

1992 Summer Employment Directory of the United States, Pat Beusterein, ed. (Princeton, NJ: Peterson's Guides--formerly published by Writer's Digest). Annual. The 1991 edition listed 90,000 jobs, including salary information. Employers listed include the Federal Government, resort, ranches, restaurants, hotels, summer camps, summer schools, summer theaters, theme and amusement parks, and expedition and guided trip companies.

Jobs In Paradise, Jeffrey Maltsman (New York: Perennial Library, 1990). Chapters include High Adventure, Mountains, Tropical Islands, Coasts and Beaches, Rivers and Lakes, Tour Escorts, Amusement and Theme Parks. Roughly a page on each employer.

"Summer Employment Program" briefly describes working for the Federal Government in general terms. "Summer Jobs: Opportunities in the Federal Government," Announcement 414, lists specific possitions with Federal agencies and gives the deadlines for applying for them; a new edition is published each December. Both pamphlets are available from Job Information Centers or the Office of Personnel Management. The centers are listed in the U.S. Government section of telephone books.

"Summer Camp Employment Opportunity Booklet," published by the American Camping Association, is available at placement and recreation department offices in colleges and universities. The 1992 edition lists positions available to college students at about 300 children's camps throughout the United States.

The Hotel/Motel RedBook and other guides to hotels, resorts, parks, and tourist attractions give the names and addresses of employers even though their purpose is not to provide information to prospective employees.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is available in most libraries and career centers, contains salary information for 250 occupations, some of which are suitable for summer employment.
COPYRIGHT 1991 U.S. Government Printing Office
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Baxter, Neale
Publication:Occupational Outlook Quarterly
Date:Dec 22, 1991
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