Turn summer job into full-time work with winning attitude


For new graduates, landing a summer job is often about more than earning a paycheque. It’s about developing valuable skills and showing your employer you’ve got what it takes to be hired for the long term.

“A summer job provides an opportunity to observe and learn from the best people,” says Barbara Simmons of Counselling & Career Coaching at George Brown College in Toronto.

Step up to the plate.

“Realize you’re going from school days to work days,” Simmons says. In class, you may have focused on taking notes, but in the workplace, you need to converse with people and share ideas.

“You can’t be a bystander. You have to participate,” Simmons says.

As the new kid on the block, it’s your job to get your name out there and develop a reputation for a winning attitude. Is someone working on a project that could further your skill set? Volunteer to lend a hand, but don’t let it interfere with your assigned responsibilities, even if it requires working overtime.

Find a mentor.

“Typically, workplaces are more relaxed in the summer. People may have more time to answer your questions,” Simmons says. “Let them know you want to improve skills, such as giving presentations. Ask for help. Maybe the organization offers that kind of assistance.”

Start building your network. Join a professional association and consider volunteering at an upcoming conference or event. Collect business cards and keep a journal of your experiences and observations.

Avoid office politics. Identify a role model and learn from them. “They probably speak positively about their co-workers and their employer,” Simmons says.

Get to know as much as you can about the company and the industry, advises Kathleen Winningham, Manager of co-operative education and employment resources at Centennial College in Toronto.

Set up information interviews with several managers or supervisors.

“Ask them how they got their position, what they look for in employees and what credentials most of their employees have,” she says. “Ask them to look at your resume and offer advice on what types of industries you might be suited for.”

Be a team player by participating in things like Friday lunches, company picnics and outings to sporting events. Start by getting to know one or two co-workers at a time if a larger crowd intimidates you.

Display a positive attitude. If asked to do something outside your comfort zone, don’t be shy or embarrassed. Keep smiling and ask for advice if necessary. Don’t be too big for any task.

Keep your eye out for job postings, which are often listed on a company’s website.

“Be aware of the human resources manager and get your name into the department if there is one,” Winningham says.

If you’ve been working with a company for a couple of months and haven’t seen an opportunity to turn your summer job into a permanent position, create one. “Can you see a need the company isn’t addressing? Take their website for example. Do they have one and is it working for them?” Winningham says.

Remember to put your best foot forward each and every day, from appropriate appearance to punctuality and attendance.

“Ensure your employer sees you as you want to be seen: responsible, reliable and dependable; not just someone who watches the clock,” Simmons says.

“All those things provide an indication about your attitude. Once you’re hired, be true to the values you exemplified.”

Show them you’ve got what it takes

Want to turn a summer job or internship into a long-term position? Let your employer know you’ve got what it takes by following these tips:

– Develop a reputation for a positive attitude.

– Find a mentor.

– Start building a network.

– Avoid office politics.

– Set up information interviews to learn more about the company and the industry.

– Display a positive attitude.

– Be responsible, reliable and dependable.