Turning Your Summer Job into an Internship

A Summer Job Vs. A Summer Internship

This year every student that I coached, that had a job before they graduated, had a strong internship.  But…not all students who had an internship actually got a job before they graduated. In large part this is true because not all internships are created equal.  Unfortunately, too many end up giving the student an uninspiring and unimpressive experience. Next week I will talk about how to turn a worthless internship around.

What You Can Do to Make Your Summer Job Resume Worthy

This week I want to talk with those of you who were not able to find an internship this summer and about what you can do to turn your summer job into an experience that you can talk productively about in an interview.

Internships are key differentiators on resumes. They are especially important in getting that first phone interview. What can you do if, for example, you had to earn strong money for the summer and the summer job you have had for three years now pays you very well?  Here are some examples of rather menial jobs that students I have coached still had some internship like bullet points on their resumes. These jobs also gave them strong things to talk about in their interviews.

How Jacob Made His Summer Job into A Great Story

Jacob: Jacob was working in a beverage distribution company.  This involved driving to small and large retail outlets and delivering beverages.  Pretty basic but…. the company had installed a new kind of software and this is where Jacob was able to be most helpful. The software collected info that would be very helpful to the business, but nobody really knew how to use it.  The first thing Jacob did was teach himself the software, so that he could help the drivers he was paired with each day. The second thing he did was offer to train all the staff. The owner took him up on that immediately.  The third and final thing he did was create a short training manual so that they would be able to train new employees after he left. Bingo – suddenly he is a problem solver, a trainer and a best-practice manual developer. Great bullet points, great stories.

What Alexandra Did to Make Her Summer Job Interview Worthy

Alexandra was working with a disabled woman doing personal care and helping her edit some of her writing.  She was in her second summer working with this woman. One of the persistent problems her client had was staffing.  There was a fair amount of turnover and some of the caretakers were less than reliable. Alexandra offered to try and help with this situation and did two things.  She interviewed the caretakers to see what was driving turnover and lack of reliability and found out two root causes that were easy to remedy. She also formed a relationship with a staffing company that could provide substitute workers with little notice.  This firm also did preliminary screening and background checks of potential personal care staff. Alexander’s client was delighted with the outcome. At Christmas her client said that turnover had gone way down and that she had backup when people called in sick or were not able to come to work for a variety of reasons.

How Emily Went From A Retail Associate to SEO Marketing Associate

Emily worked in a retail setting as a store Customer Support Associate because she needed to earn money for school. One day  the person who normally served as the Truck Shift Supervisor (the person that supervises the unloading, cataloging and placing of product in the store) called in sick.  Emily had participated in these kinds of activities and immediately offered to take over the supervisory role that day.  They did a great job and Emily then became the Truck Shift Supervisor for any shift she was on. It did not matter that she was not pursuing a career in retail.  That story was a bullet on her resume and a story she told while interviewing for the SEO Associate for an marketing consulting firm.  She used it to answer a question of when she went above expectations and took on additional responsibility.  This was only one of many great stories that she had – and she got the job!

Don’t Leave Your Summer Job Without A Reference

Another thing that these clients did at the end of the summer was to ask their bosses if they would be references for them (the answers were both enthusiastic yeses). They also asked if it was ok that they described the work they did with them as an internship.  In both cases their bosses were comfortable with this request. I had my clients write up a description of the role they had and their accomplishments so their bosses knew how they would describe their role on a resume.

These are just three examples out of dozens we have of students going beyond expectations in a job, delivering real value and having stories to tell in interviews, and powerful bullets on their resumes.  I have honestly yet to see a job that doesn’t provide opportunities like the ones described above.

When you must work v. do an internship DO NOT BE EMBARRASSED.  Your future employers will value your work experience if you come out of it with accomplishment stories.  So, find those opportunities to lead a project, get on a team, or simply solve a problem. Then learn to sell yourself with confidence, because your future bosses will be impressed.  Contact us at sue@launchingu.com for your free complimentary consultation.