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Four Tips for Finding Summer Work

Four Tips for Finding Summer Work

By Margaret Steen, for Yahoo! HotJobs

Students and others hoping for a good job this summer face the same discouraging job market as other workers.

"The outlook obviously is rough right now," says John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. "The economy has been shedding jobs, and employers are going to be more reluctant to bring on people without experience."

Still, there are jobs available for the summer. Summer camps need counselors, tourist attractions need extra help and pools need lifeguards. Some businesses may hire interns or substitutes for vacationing workers.

Challenger and other experts offer these tips for students and others looking for summer work in this challenging economy.

Don't Wait

"Start looking now -- don't wait for the school year to end," Challenger says. This means checking job postings, attending job fairs and meeting with potential employers in person.

One complication for college students: You may be looking for a summer job that's in a different city from where you are now. If possible, make some visits to the place you'll be living -- and, you hope, working -- this summer. Talk in person with businesses that might be hiring.

Talk to Everyone You Know

Your professors or school career center might be able to connect you with graduates of your school who are working. Check in with previous employers to see if they'd take you back this summer. Does your neighbor own a business? Ask him if there are any summer positions available.

"Don't be afraid to go see your parents' friends," Challenger says. And he really means "see": Be sure to talk in person whenever possible, rather than simply emailing a resume.

Consider an Unpaid Internship

If a company that could give you great experience has no budget for interns this summer, see if you could afford to do an unpaid internship. The experience can pay off when it comes time to look for a longer-term job, says Carrie McKnight, director of career services at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California.

Even when you're not asking for money, you may find that not all companies are willing to take on an intern. Some may have rules against unpaid workers. And some may find that with the downturn, they can't afford even free help. "Some organizations have fewer employees, fewer people available to supervise interns," McKnight says.

Broaden Your Horizons

If you're working toward employment in a certain field, it's best to find a summer internship or job that will help you get there. Internships at leading companies can lead to full-time jobs after graduation.

But if you can't land a great internship, or you can't afford to work for free, then consider what you could get out of an unrelated job.

Learning about a different industry may lead you to consider new careers. And some skills are transferrable: You can learn about customer service by working in a restaurant, for example. So don't rule out jobs that may not seem like a perfect match. 

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