Summer Employment: It's Never Too Late

I’m stuck, alone and bored as Sisyphus. This summer, my plan was to live on my own in Portland, Maine playing semi-professional soccer and occupying myself busing tables or something of the sort. It’s now July and I haven’t gotten into a single game, and I have continued to fail at finding myself a part-time job. The only thing that has gone according to plan is that I live on my own. But all is not lost: I like to believe something good can be found in everything, and what I’ve found is some advice on finding fulfillment this summer. Here are some pointers for the unemployed who don’t know where to begin, middle, and end the search for productivity and satisfaction.

It’s not what you know; it’s whom you know. Talk to your friends and find out what they’re doing. Talk to your parents and find out what their friends are doing. Your parents may be your best source as they may, at the very least, have friends who have friends in interesting and influential places. Claremont McKenna College, we know the drill, here: the key is to find someone who has a connection, whether that means they are a current employee, past employee, family friend, or acquaintance.  Someone must vouch for you, or else your resume will just get lost in the shuffle.

Tip: Don't instantly shut down the possibility of working for mom and pop (or Uncle Joe)-- this late in the game, play by the "beggars can't be choosers" rule.

Catch my shift. In many parts of our country, July and August mean tourist season. Part-time employers are scrambling to accommodate the influx of people, making the job hunt much more feasible than most would assume.  If you want to be first on the waiting list you need to show your potential employer you're the right girl or guy for the job. “The key to finding a summer job is persistence.  It is not enough to drop off a resume or complete an application.  Job seekers should plan to follow up in person (dressed appropriately) several times to secure the job.” says Career Counselor Susan Kennedy, of Career Treking. This advice holds true, no matter what type of job or time of the year.

I recall a number of my friends quitting mid-July last year to take full leisurely advantage of the last month of summer and kick back with the thou's they made in May and June. Try asking a friend to recommend you as his or her replacement. If they've done a good job, their employer will be looking for someone similar to step in... and who better than a friend?

Be your own boss.

In the case that you cannot secure a job, why not start your own business and employ yourself? According to Kennedy, “Mowing lawns, washing cars and tutoring are all services that are in need.” For you future employers, taking initiative will demonstrate that you're a self-motivated go-getter. Be sure to get the word out about your new business venture. First, the people who know you personally will be most eager to support your business. If you deliver excellent services, your patrons will spread the word to their friends... who will spread the word to their friends.

When in doubt, be the lawnboy or girl.  People are always in need of landscaping help, especially during the summertime.  By no means is landscaping limited to weeding and mowing: you might be asked to build a garden, plant saplings, or lay down a patio.  The great outdoors, plenty of time for reflection or iPod jamming, and a nice paycheck.

Take a leap of faith.

Here's a novel idea: do something you've never done before. Versatility is an undeniably desirable trait. Have you ever been a nanny? How about a manny? It's easy, fun, and shows future employers that you are trustworthy and responsible.  Why not coach a kids' sports team? If rec-league basketball taught me anything, it's that coaches are always in demand. While this won't fill your pockets with cash, you may find yourself making some wee new friends.  Being a role model for the short stacks is both fulfilling and a valuable work experience.

On a more personal note...

As I mentioned, I'm no stranger to the "dead-end summer" sentiments-- so I'll tell you what I did. I began a novel. Right now I'm 40 pages deep, and while this is far from a completed project, it's four times as much as I'd written before the summer started. I'll give you a teaser: in my book, the protagonist falls in love with a prostitute, and wrestles with the ethical dilemma of his lover's choice of profession. She is his dream girl with one major-- though surface-level-- personal flaw.

If you you're writing a novel, or pursuing any other artistic ambitions, you can take your time developing your creative ideas during the summer months. Short stories, poetry, artwork, or even a blog-- given whichever you prefer a go this summer, before CMC sweeps us away with academics. Writing has been fulfilling for me, not only because am I constantly being creative, but also because I have that little being in the back of my head saying, "Maybe this will get published one day."

It's all gravy in the end.

The worst thing you can do with your summer is fret about not being productive...then not do anything about it. "Productivity" is what you want it to be.  Do not resign yourself to a summer of boredom. It's not too late to make the most of summer 2011.  

For more summer articles, read about Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple's experiences living on $1 per day in Guatemala or check out Anna Pan's 500 Ways to Summer.