Don’t take a summer job for the discount.

 

Finish Line. Foot Locker. Champs Sports. Dick’s Sporting Goods. Let me tell you, I would love to work at one of these retail outlets and get the 20-30% employee discount. I have about 40 or so pairs of shoes and I’m kind of addicted. Ok well… really obsessed. Think of all of the money I would have saved had I worked somewhere with an incredible discount. I’ve thought about it, a lot. I’m smiling right now thinking about the access I’d have to new Jordan releases. If retail is where you want to make a career, by all means these are all great places to get a start. But, that’s the key – get your start in areas that interest you in your future. Retail? Not the place for me until my salary can suffice buying 3 pairs of shoes at once, which would be the result of working in that type of hostile, sneakerhead, impulse environment known as the “athletic footwear department.”

My mother being a realist, as well as disappointed I hadn’t decided on being a doctor at the ripe age of 7; told me to ask someone I knew in business for an internship. “That’s your major, right Nicole? Not shoes.” Well, at the time it was also my mom’s money paying for those shoes, so I’m sure that had something to do with her suggestion. But, anyhow, I went to work for some executive recruiting firm for 3 consecutive summers doing database cleanup, business development e-mails, side projects including developing call lists and so forth.

Careerealism is a career and job search blog and I read an article called 3 Ways Unpaid Internships Pay. This got me thinking about my own story. Think long and hard about getting an internship in a field you’d like to learn more about. Being a lifeguard or nanny? Never a bad way to make a few extra bucks in the summer, especially if you need the money. But, you’d be surprised at the number of part-time internships there are. You’d also be surprised at the number of internships that now PAY you to learn about a career, oh yea, and get work done.

Again, this is not a knock against typical summer jobs for college students. It’s a call to action. Do your due diligence spring semester. What companies do you want to work for? What are the best internship job boards? Who do you know that may be able to lead you in the right direction? Your dad’s best friend is a car dealer? You’re an HR major? Even car dealerships need HR. It can’t hurt to ask. Ask your advisors, ask your professors. There are resources at your fingertips; you just have to be willing to utilize them and creative enough to find a way even when some doors close.

Whether the job market is down or up – those with relevant experience will always have a leg up on the competition. How do I get work experience before I can even enter the workforce? Get an internship. Don’t wait until you’re a junior and panicking. Who says you can’t start being a productive contributor to society even if you have 3 or 4 years of college to go? Starting early can allow you to explore different areas you have interest in.

With an internship, you’ll now have valid work references for when you do break into the full-time work force. Hey, you might even get hired by that executive recruiting firm you interned with, novel idea. Next time a biology major thinks about picking up that tax free babysitting job – ask them, what do you think about applying for that internship at the cancer treatment center?

What kind of story do you want to tell in your interviews?

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