One of the great things about a university or college campus is that there are an incredible number of services available to help you succeed in your search for the perfect career. For most of us, this starts with summer job applications.
If you haven’t already been there, you should head straight to your campus career services centre. It might be hiding under a different name, but almost all schools have an office and staff dedicated to helping students perfect their application packages or discover career possibilities. This is an amazing resource that many students take for granted. It’s easy to brush it off and think, “My resumé is fine,” but remember, people pay big bucks for these types of services in the real world—so take advantage and get a jump start! Not only will you save money later, but all of your job applications in the meantime will be professional, clear and complete.
After booking an appointment at the career centre, make sure to tune up your resumé and cover letter as much as you can. You’ll want to bring a current, updated application package and an idea of what you would like to gain from the appointment. For instance, do you need someone to help you fine-tune and edit your resumé? Do you need some guidance to make your cover letter more persuasive? Perhaps you need help describing your “cashier” experience to employers in a way that highlights your strengths and what you gained from the job. Be proactive. Don’t be the person who walks into the office, slaps down a resumé, and expects the staff to do all the hard work.
The professors and staff in your faculty department might also be able to help you with more specific career guidance. Get to know your instructors first, or take a leap of faith and ask them straight out for help with your job search. Many of them have direct industry experience and can help make your resumé more field-specific—they may have been the people doing the hiring at their former jobs!
In certain cases, your professors or department administrators might have a better idea of what employers are looking for. Some industries might value certain parts of your resumé over others, while a particular style or layout might be the norm in other fields.
This is yet another example of a great resource that is available exclusively to students. After graduation, it would feel pretty awkward to go back to your first-year professor and ask for a reference. It’s a lot easier to hang around after class for a quick chat while you’re actually in their class.
The reality is that whether your application successfully lands you a particular position or not, the experience of applying will be invaluable to you in the future. Regularly updating and editing your resumé and cover letter is a good habit to get into. Taking advantage of all the career services your school offers, as well as seeking out your own, could help you land your dream summer job—and beyond.