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How to leverage your summer job

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Cool evening breezes this time of year mean one thing — our short summer season is rapidly coming to a close.

And as college and university students prepare for another year of studies, and high school students check out the latest in back-to-school gear, many of the 2 million Canadian teens who secure seasonal employment are also wondering what to do about their summer job.

A recent survey by an online, hourly job company, says that more than three-quarters of the 4,000 teens they polled say they will try to keep their summer jobs.

“For some it is about earning extra cash,” states SnagA Job.com. “For others, it can be the beginning of leveraging their work experience.”

There are ways both high school and college students can parlay their summer job into part-time work this fall, or use it to set them up for future employment and bolster their work resume.

Company founder and job expert Shawn Boyer says the key, either way, is to finish the job as well as they started it.

Here are some points to keep in mind if you want to keep working:

1. Prepare yourself. Before you talk to your employer, get an idea of your fall schedule, your time commitments and your winter break schedule. If you’re a college or university student who is moving for the academic year, find out if there are any locations near where you’re going to school and talk to your current manager about putting you in touch with that location.

2. Communicate. As soon as you’ve made the decision you’d like to stay on, let your employer know — the sooner the better, so they can prepare, too.

3. Sell yourself. Create an interim work report — a one-page summary of your work experience — that you can use as a launching point for the discussion when you sit down and discuss next steps.

4. Be flexible. Part-time work generally means nights and weekends. If you don’t want to work on Friday nights, ask to work Saturday nights instead.

5. Keep in contact. If you decide you don’t want to work through the fall, but want to come back next summer, or even during the holiday season, ask when you should follow up and contact them to stay ahead of the seasonal crowd.

Here are ways to leverage your experience:
1. Request an exit interview and get a letter of recommendation. During the interview, your manager will be able to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll get a sense of how you did and what you need to work on. When asking for the letter, make it easy for them by providing five bullet points of what you did and a short synopsis of what you would like them to include in the letter. Future employers may request this document as part of the application process, and you’ll want to be ready. At the end of the interview, make sure to say thank you and let them know you appreciated the opportunity.

2. Keep in touch. Ask your employer if you can list them as a reference, then write in on your calendar to stay in touch periodically and give them a heads-up when they may receive a call for a reference.

3. Look for relevance. Make certain not to list everything on your resume. Review your past responsibilities and see what makes the most sense to list, concentrating on what is most relevant and timely; for example, if you were a lifeguard, knowing CPR can be listed as a relevant skill.

4. Begin your network. Stay in touch with your co-workers, too. You never know where they’ll end up.

5. Toot your horn. Being proud of what you have accomplished is important. It shows that you have pride in your job performance.

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