Posts filed under 'jobs & working'

Working 101: 4 Easy Ways to Get Job Experience

A few weeks before graduation, I started looking frantically for a job. Most of the listings I found had specific qualifications–they wanted 1, 2, 3, or even more years of job experience, not to mention a clear knowledge of their field. Lucky for me, I had already logged several years of job time by that point, and if you’re gearing up to go get that dream job after school, one of the best things you can do now is build up your job experience. Here are a few ways to start.

If your primary objective is just to get some work experience under your belt, you don’t need to worry too much about choosing a career field–just putting in the hours is a great place to start. You can try:

Working On Campus. College campuses are usually a great place to find a job–they work hard to hire students, and you can do anything from driving a campus mail truck to doing security detail or just working part-time in the caf. Campus jobs don’t always pay well, but they are often relatively easy to get and usually very flexible about working with your school schedule.

Working for Mom and Dad. Or a relative, family friend, or other acquaintance–whoever you know who has a business that might be in need of your skills. Ask around, and be sure to flaunt (but not exaggerate) your technical prowess, typing speed, or any other talent that will help you stand out. (But p.s. — Even if you’re working for the ‘rents, you still need to take your job seriously!)

Volunteering. Most employers don’t care if your work experience is paid or unpaid, so if you can’t find (or aren’t interested it) an entry-level job, you can always start by doing some volunteer work. This will not only get you in the habit of fitting work into your schedule, but also gives you the opportunity to secure references for future job apps.

If you already know what your long-term goals are, you might be interested in getting some experience in the field you’re pursuing. If this sounds like you, try:

Getting an Internship. Talk to your professor or the faculty advisor for your major, or stop by your college’s career center and look for internships in your area of choice. Not only will this give you some familiarity with the subject, it is also a great way to gauge whether you really want to pursue a similar career.

Looking for more work tips? Find out how to write a basic, easy resume, get the answers to your resume-writing questions, or decide–should you even get a job while you’re in college?


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Add comment May 26th, 2011

Summerwise: Get in Gear Early

Hey! It’s Spring! Do you know what that means? It means there are only weeks–and, okay, some really gnarly tests–between you and summer break. And do you know what that means? It means it’s time to get your summer plans going so you can optimize those three months and make them fully productive (and fun!).


I know that right now a summer of pools, sleeping in, and TV marathons sounds amazing, but too many pajamas-only days and your sense of accomplishment (and, uh, your social life) will start to wear thin. You may have forgotten in the heat of midterm exams and all-night cramming sessions, but summer can actually be pretty boring if you don’t get your buns in gear.

While you should definitely indulge in some relaxation time (you’ve earned it, right?), try to build a healthy balance of work and play into your summer schedule.

Work It, Baby

So, what qualifies as “work”? Aside from the typical part-time or full-time job, which is a wonderful way to earn the cash you need to enjoy summertime and stay afloat during school, there are tons of other productive things you can do:

  • Volunteer. Choose something you’re interested in, and offer to lend a hand free of charge. Whether you’re dog-walking at your local vet or learning the ins and outs of construction with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering is a great way to meet new people, have unique experiences, and build your resume.
  • Scholarships. If you quit applying for scholarships after you graduated high school, you are really missing out–there are tons of local and nationwide scholarships available for students in both undergrad and graduate programs. Up your odds of winning by searching out and applying for scholarships with a limited applicant pool–search for those targeted to your major, personal interests, or other unique characteristics.
  • Tutor or Teach. If you’re not looking for a full time job but still want to bank a little something, tutoring might be a great option for you. Sylvan and Kaplan routinely hire college students to teach and tutor high school or younger aged students.
    If you’ve got a different kind of skill to share, check with your local community college or community center. They often allow people to provide one-day seminars on things like computer literacy or other useful skills. A heads up, though–you’ll want to be prepared with a syllabus and behave professionally.

(Looking for more ways to do a little more this summer, or more info and resources about the items above? Check out these 5 ways to stay productive this summer.)

Play Days

Okay, you’ve scheduled your work hours, lined up some volunteer time, and even planned a day to placate your mom by cleaning out your closet. Now the good stuff!

Since your play days aren’t as easy to nail down (your parents might let you ditch Aunt Ethyl’s dinner party for work, but probably not for a trip to the beach) I suggest you make yourself a Summer To-Do List. Write down everything you want to do–from big road trips to little things like stopping at your favorite local pizza place–and squeeze them in whenever you can!

(Planning a trip? Here are some cheap ideas for summer vacations.)

Why Now?

Yes, summer is coming, but there are tons of things standing in your way–the calendar and your professors, for example. So why am I telling you to start getting ready now?

Well, I hate to say it, but the early bird gets the worm. The majority of colleges get out within a few weeks of each other, so if you want to snag a summer job, you’ll be in competition with a flood of other college students going home. That means early planning could be the difference between a you who has money for a movie ticket and the you who has to settle for watching a DVD with your date while Mom and Dad are in the next room.

Fun stuff deserves planning, too. It not only gives you something to look forward to (which you’ll need during finals week!), but also allows you to do some money-saving research so you don’t go back to school sans-cash. If you’re traveling, start checking out sites like STA TravelPricelineStudent Universe, and other travel sites to compare hotel and flight costs. If you’re staying home, find out which nights are free-popcorn night at the theater, or if your student ID can get you a discount at the burrito place downtown.
Get the dirty work done now, and you can really make the most of those three luxurious months to come.

Happy planning,

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1 comment April 5th, 2010

How to Apply for Summer Jobs

With summer finally beginning, I know a lot of you are starting to think about how to earn money over the next few months. In fact, reader Jessica recently requested an article about how to snag a job even if you don’t have much experience. So Jessica, this one’s for you!

First Things First

Before you can apply for a job, first you have to find one. Keep your eyes open around town, ask your parents to look for Help Wanted signs, and check out the offerings on (just be sure to take safety precautions–some of those listings are scams!). Check with friends parents’, grandparents, and old workplaces to see if they need more help during the summer months. Also, pay close attention to tourist spots–theme parks, restaurants, etc.–who tend to need more “seasonal” workers.

With the economy tight, you should probably apply for a few positions in case your top choice doesn’t come through. And remember, the earlier you get started, the better your chances!

Look Good on Paper

Whether you have years of paid experience or just a few hours as a library volunteer, you should definitely type up a resume. It will help you fill out your job application, and when you’re done you can clip it to the back. A good resume can make a great impression.

If you’re a good student, include your GPA on your resume.  Employers know that hard working, conscientious students tend to be good employees.  Also include any extracurricular activities or leadership positions that would put you in a good light.

Check out How to Write a Basic, Easy Resume and Your Resume Writing Questions Answered for tips and a sample resume.

Look Good in Person

When you get called in for an interview, the best rule of thumb I’ve found is to dress one step nicer than the typical “uniform” in the office.

For example, when I applied to work at a hobby shop where everyone wore jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers, I opted to upgrade to a button down and some flats, but keep the jeans. For an office position, I kicked it up a notch to heels, a blouse, and a skirt (guys wear might translate to nice shoes, khakis, and a tie).

Basically, you want to look like you’ll fit in AND like you’ve made an effort to look nice, but you don’t want to wear an evening gown to apply for a construction position. Get it?

Be Honest

One thing I’ve learned from my working career (which started when I was 14) is that there is no point to lying during an interview. It will only get you into trouble. If you are the right person for the job–and the job is right for you–then your true colors need to show at an interview. So don’t pretend that you can handle 40 ringing phones if you can’t!

That said, though you should “be yourself” you also need to be professional, so save the Office Space references for your friends. 😉

Keep at It

It is okay to check up on an application, especially if you really want a certain job. If you haven’t gotten an interview, you might want to call once a week to see if they’ve reviewed your application. Be friendly and professional on the phone, even if they put you on hold.

If you have gotten an interview, ask before you leave when you can call them to check in. (If they tell you not to call, though, don’t call. That’s probably a good indicator that you should start looking for other options.)

The economy is hard right now–there’s no getting around it–and that means that even seasoned vets and college grads are having a hard time finding work. So if you don’t get called back right away, don’t give up! Keep applying for new positions until you find a good fit.

Got any tips of your own? Please share!

photo by woodsy

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3 comments May 12th, 2009

How To: Freelance for Extra Cash

Need some extra cash but don’t have the time for a second job? Freelance work is a great way to plump up your wallet without the restrictions of 9-5 office time. Basically you work on a “project-only” basis on your own time–you can work from your dorm room in the middle of the night as long as you meet your deadline!

Here are a few sites you can check out to get started!
Elance connects small businesses with skilled workers (that’s you!), and even helps you manage the payment process. You can either post your skills and hope someone finds you, or search the job postings and apply for one yourself. Elance is a great option if you have skills in writing, translating, programming, graphic design, or even marketing.

You bid for jobs, so your pay will vary, but it could be as much as $500-$1,000.
Think you’re an expert about something? Write about it on Associated Content–you can submit an article about pretty much any subject, from how to improve your golf game to the top 76 movies everyone should see. You just need some expertise and at least 400 words. You might not get any cash, but if the editors like what you’ve written they’ll cut you a check!

Pays: Up to $2-$12 per article
Think your photos are good enough to earn you some cash? Sign up to be a seller at Stock Expert, a website that sells photo rights. You’ll have to apply and be approved to join their community, and they take a commission, but it is pretty easy–you just upload your photos, they get approved, and then you get paid each time one is downloaded.

Pays: 50% of download price

photo by woodsy

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3 comments March 27th, 2009

Spend Your Time Wisely: Volunteer Ideas for College

Volunteering isn’t all soup kitchens and senior living centers-in fact I’m almost daring enough to propose that there is probably a nearly-perfect volunteer opportunity for everyone-but clearly there are probably a few exceptions. : )

Obviously you’ve already been accepted to college, so why should you keep volunteering after high school?  Well, if you think about it, it’s kind of a “Win-Win-Win” (to quote Michael Scott).

  • Will it help me find my “niche” around here, and help me meet new people? Check.
  • Will getting outside of myself and helping other people help me beat homesickness? Check.
  • Will it look darn good on my résumé? Check.

See? Win-Win-Win. I’d actually like to throw some more “Win”s in there because there are many, many other benefits of volunteering.  Want to give it a shot?

If You Like to Read…

  • Reading is Fundamental: Help select books for local programs, organize book events, read books aloud and/or tell stories, fundraise, and raise awareness about children’s literacy.
  • LibriVox: Volunteer to read for LibriVox, which provides free downloadable audiobooks of books in the public domain. You can even get a group of people together to read play-style with different voices for each character.
  • Read This to Me: Spend an hour or so a week reading things sent in by blind or low-vision people to them over the phone (hey, you’re on your phone all the time anyway, right?). This can be anything from a magazine article to a phone bill.
  • Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic®: Record books and/or text books for the blind and dyslexic at one of the many RFBD centers nationwide.
  • Local Library: Local libraries are always on the lookout for volunteers to help stock shelves, read at story time, or man summer reading program tables. Contact yours and see if they need any help.

If You Like Working (or Making Art) With Your Hands…

  • Habitat for Humanity: Volunteer to help build homes for the needy, either in your own community or in more exotic locales!
  • Play Music at a Hospital or Hospice: Many hospitals or hospices offer volunteers the opportunity to play either in their lobby or for their patients. It’s an easy way to share your talent and brighten a few people’s days.
  • Be an Arts & Crafts Volunteer: Community, children’s, and elderly programs are a great place to share your love of an art or craft. Search your local area for volunteer opportunities to teach art, sewing, knitting, crochet, or any other art to those around you-and if you can’t find an opportunity, make one!
  • Make Baby Blankets: If you like to knit, quilt, sew, or crochet, check with local hospitals and children’s hospitals to see if they accept donations of baby blankets. Many provide blankets to low-income families who may not have much for their babies.

If You’re a People Person (or an Animal Lover):

  • Ronald McDonald House: Ronald McDonald houses are a haven for families whose children are in the hospital. You can help out by volunteering in a number of ways: planning events, fundraising, cleaning, hosting game or movie night for the families, or even bringing by treats, snacks, or dinner.
  • Holding Babies: Did you know that many hospitals actually have a spot for volunteers who want to hold babies? Many babies born prematurely or abandoned need physical contact during their developmental stages. Contact your local hospital (or children’s hospital) to see if they have a spot for you. (This does tend to have a waiting list… The hospital near my apartment has a wait of 2 years!)
  • Big Brothers & Big Sisters: Make a big impact by doing little things-hiking, cooking, playing basketball, or even just hanging out-with a kid who needs a friend. It can be as little as 4 hours a month.
  • Animal Shelter/Veterinarian Office: Animal shelters and veterinarian offices are often glad of a helping hand washing and walking animals, cleaning, feeding, etc. Call around your area and see who needs you!

If You Want to Search for Yourself…

  • Volunteer Match: Search out volunteer opportunities in your area from a huuuge list!

photo: Together 1 by  flaivoloka

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3 comments September 29th, 2008

Moving Back Home for Summer?

Congratulations-you’ve finished (or are about to finish) a year of college! Planning on heading home for the summer?

Dealing with Parents

Every parent has a different reaction to watching their child go off to college-and an equally different reaction when they come back home for the summer. However Mom or Dad deals, it’s best for you to be prepared to have a couple of conversations with them about how you both expect things to work out.

If your parents seem to be slipping back into thinking you’re still in high school, you might want to sit down and compromise on some updated house rules. After a year on your own, you probably don’t need to be woken up, and you might feel resistant to a curfew, but you also need to take into account that Mom & Dad are giving you free food and rent.

Bottom Line: Living at home involves some give-and-take from both sides, so be willing to compromise. If your parents insist on a curfew, try to get one you both feel is reasonable. Work out house rules so that you all feel respected as adults.

Getting a Summer Job

Every summer the job market is flooded with college kids looking for summer work, so the sooner you can get into the market, the better! It’s a good idea to have family or friends back home keep an eye out for possible jobs for you even before you get out of school.

These ideas about making money over break and the Pay for College Blog’s winter break job ideas might be helpful, too!

Bottom Line: However you choose to spend your summer, don’t miss out on this opportunity to build up some more cash for the next school year (or your future) while you’re enjoying your free summer stay at the comfortable Mom & Dad Residence Hall!

photo: Awesome House 2 by reznor70

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1 comment May 29th, 2008

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