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How to find a student summer job

For most students, finding a job over the summer is a necessary evil – and you could end up behind the checkout at Tesco if you leave it till the last minute. Summer jobs for students are not hard to find and can give you valuable, interesting work experience – but only if you plan ahead.

To help you find a student summer job, we’ve put together this guide to ensure you get your first choice of employer.

What student summer jobs are out there?

Summer jobs for students tend to follow certain patterns - working in shops or restaurants, manning phones in a call centre, or helping run a summer camp for younger students. This infographic from a few years ago shows the kinds of jobs available in the summer (right click and select "Open image in new tab" to see a bigger version):

Summer work infographic

To be honest, many of these jobs can be quite boring, as well as low paid. We suggest you use your summer to get work you enjoy that will give you skills and experience to help in your future career. Which brings us to our next point...

Make it count!

If you know what career you want to go into, a student summer job is a great way to boost your chances of employment when you finish school or university. If you don't, now is a great time to start thinking about it – that way, you won't just be earning a fast buck, you'll be improving your skills and experience and making life easier for yourself when you leave education. And if you're doing something you enjoy and care about, you're much more likely to enjoy rather than spending your days clock watching. Take a look at our post on planning your career to get the ball rolling.

Look into internships and summer placements

Once you know what area of work you want to go into in your future career, finding an internship or a summer placement can be a great summer job for students, letting you make some money while getting first-hand experience of the field you're interested in. Internships are often unpaid, or expenses only – so make sure you know what the deal is when you apply.

We advertise summer placements on our site – take a look at our jobs and courses page to see if there's anything that takes your fancy.

Apply for jobs employers aren't advertising

It might sound bizarre, but your best chance of finding decent work is by making speculative applications for jobs employers aren't advertising. Following the recession, a lot of employers have developed the habit of not advertising their positions to the public, instead, they tell their existing staff that they’re looking for someone to do X, Y and Z and hope for referrals.

Look up employers who work in the area you want to go into and get in touch with them directly. Put on your best jeans (no holes), crack open your friendliest smile and start handing out your CV to prospective employers. If you’re not able to deliver your CV in person, then email it alongside a cover letter, explaining what value you think you can add to their company over the summer.

Be proactive: tell people you’re looking

Even if you only tell one person a day that you’re looking for a job, that’s one more person who may be able to help you in your search. Today’s hidden job market relies heavily on word of mouth recommendations, so the more people you speak to who are already in work, the more chance you’ll have of hearing about new vacancies.

We’ve all heard of the six degrees of separation theory, right? Well, there’s definitely something in it.

All of us are only six contacts away from landing our perfect student summer job, so get networking. Talk to friends, parents, parents' friends and friends' parents and you'll probably find someone who can put you in touch with the right person.

Consider starting your own business

If the idea of spending your summer holiday working in a call centre fills you with dread, then why not consider starting your own business? Sounds like the ideal summer job for students! And we don’t mean being the next Mark Zuckerberg (see Facebook), we’re talking about passing on the skills you already have to other people in return for a fee.

For example, if you're a university student, you've just been through exactly what secondary school students in your area are about to do: take their A-levels. So why not start a private tutoring business and work on your own terms? There are several websites out there for you to advertise your services, plus you can also tutor online from the comfort of your own home.

One of the best things about working as a tutor is that you can carry on tutoring after the summer’s out. Being self-employed means that you can scale your business up or down as you need to.

Be creative in your job search

Instead of using the same old websites to look for jobs, why not take a more creative approach? Start a job search campaign on social media by paying to promote your profile to companies you’d like to work for, or Google keywords to target a specific niche or industry.

You could create your own website or blog and use it as your personal CV, directing the companies you contact to your website.

Post an ad on Gumtree, telling potential employers that you’re looking for work and list all your skills and qualities and the areas you’d be interested in working in.

If all else fails, you could always try out some of these creative ways to find a job, although some you should probably exercise with caution.

We’d also recommend checking out our student jobs board in case a vacancy comes up that you’d be interested in.

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Image credits

Infographic via When I Work