Making the most out of your summer job

How to take full advantage of your summer gig before school starts.

Summer vacation has arrived, and that may mean trading hours in a classroom for hours working at your new summer job. And though your job may just seem like something to pass the time and earn some money, you might be surprised by the benefits you can reap in just a few months. Here’s how to take full advantage of your summer gig before school starts.

Tip #1: Pad your savings account

Summer offers many enticing ways to spend your money, but it’s important to remember that saving is smart. Securing a nest egg for future expenses will make checking your account balance a more positive experience. Make a goal of consistently saving a percentage of your paycheck each month (it’s easy to make this automatic).

Tip #2: Make nice with your manager

Generating a good rapport with your boss should be a top priority — especially considering that references are crucial when applying to college, internships, and even future jobs. Having a long list of people who can vouch for your work ethic is one of the best ways to prepare for life after high school. Plus, it’s a good way to lock in a summer job for years to come.

Tip #3: Build a friend group

Take advantage of being around the same people all summer and expand your friend circle to students outside your high school. Getting to know your coworkers outside of work can actually make the long, grueling shifts more enjoyable. Plus, friends are always more apt to cover each other’s shifts in a bind — just make sure to help them out too!

Tip #4: Make decisions about your career path

Use your part-time job to decide what you do and don’t want to do when you grow up. This temporary gig may just help you settle on a career. For example, working at a summer camp might teach you that you don’t have the patience to deal with children — therefore veering you away from an education major. Your job at a hotel might steer you toward hospitality and restaurant management. Or your job at a gym may verify that you want to be a physical therapist. The tedious tasks of a part-time job can be extremely telling, so make sure to take stock come the end of summer.

Tip #5: Keep your experience in perspective

Whether you’re clothing mannequins, manning a cash register, or serving up lattes, remember that you’ve learned a new skill. Later, you’ll find that any and all work experience is invaluable.

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