Summer job may be the right thing to do

Classes are over and exams are a distant memory for both matriculants and students, making this the perfect time to make some money with a vacation job.

Apart from being a great way to fund your entertainment, a summer job can be a useful tool in the future when one attempts to enter the job market as it not only provides much-needed experience but also shows an ability to handle responsibilities well.

According to Zabo Mhleli, team leader in the student advisory department at South African distance learning institution Oxbridge Academy, young people often complain about the Catch-22 situation of needing experience to get a job and needing a job to gain the experience.

But with a summer job, Mhleli said young people are able to gain a foot in the door at junior level which they can later build on.

To make the job more meaningful, Mhleli urged the youth to look for a job which has some connection to one’s future career path, transferrable skills which one can walk away with, allows for the construction of relationships for a sound network and one which allows employees an opportunity to work on their work ethic.

“If you want to go into communications, then working as a waiter will bring a wealth of practice in dealing with the public. And if your dream is to become an engineer, head down to the industrial side of town and find businesses that might be looking for a driver or someone to help out as an apprentice,” he advised.

“No matter what type of work you’re going to be doing, you’re sure to have the opportunity to learn some transferrable skills. Waiters could focus on learning customer service, communication, and problem-solving skills, even if they have no intention of going into the hospitality industry.”

Mhleli said a hint is to search job advertisements for positions in your dream career and note which kind of transferrable skills are desired.

“Your summer job provides the perfect opportunity to learn how to be professional, how to navigate the unwritten rules, and how to manage tricky situations and politics you may encounter in future,” he added.

For job-seekers looking to follow a career path in either accounting or auditing, East London accountant and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Jacqui Mauer advised matriculants or students to approach firms to enquire about available opportunities.

“They should also look at businesses in other industries as well, as accounting is required by all types of organisations. Being open to learning and available to do a variety of tasks will be beneficial when looking for work opportunities,” she said, adding that practical work experience assists with exposure to different styles of leadership while also enabling one to learn from more experienced people.

“A competitive edge will come from what a potential employee has learnt from their experiences and whether they have been able to impress the company they worked for.”

Mauer cautioned however that should an internship or holiday employment not be possible, this does not mean that the person is at a disadvantage because a positive attitude, willingness to learn and technical ability remain vital areas of consideration when employers choose employees.

Adding to this is Bonnie Currin, owner of East London marketing and recruitment company Current Consulting, who said in theory it would be ideal for matriculants and students to find holiday jobs, although it can be unlikely.

Without being qualified or having any experience in their desired job types would limit the opportunities because not only can they not do the job yet, but most managers go on leave during this time so there is no one to train or mentor the students.

She said most vacation jobs are found in retail, restaurants and hotels. “And other seasonal environments which provide great experience to students who will be exposed to good old hard work, the importance of customer service, reporting lines and workplace rules where they will earn entry level wages with tips being paid for good service which should motivate the student to perform well,” she said.

Mhleli said whatever the reason for looking for a summer job, the youth are urged to make it count in a way which will make it pay off well in the future. “Most people would love to just relax and do as little as possible during the holidays, and that is understandable. However, many need the additional income, while others choose to get a head start on their careers. Whatever your situation or reason for taking a summer job, if you are going to work, you can do more than just rock up at work every day.” —-


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