Turn your summer job into a full-time career


When Ryan Leonard needed a career change, he knew exactly where to go.

As of 2016, the 24-year-old had spent his summers working at the Preakness Hills Country Club in Wayne, NJ, while earning his business management degree at Manhattanville College.

« It was a great first job that kept me busy all summer, » Leonard said. « I had fun and I liked the environment. »

Leonard started there as a food shipper, earning hourly wages plus overtime, and over the following summers was promoted to pool pavilion manager. After graduating in 2020, he considered a career in finance, eventually landing a commission-based insurance job at a Fortune 500 company.

“I was making 200 phone calls a day trying to find a new client. It was very difficult, 11 to 12 hours a day behind a desk staring at a computer screen,” Leonard said. “I was miserable. »

Leonard stepped down in March 2021 and took time to regroup. He had kept in touch with the manager and chef of the Preakness Hills clubhouse – and in August the staff member contacted him asking for temporary help.

« I was like, ‘I’ll be there next week,' » Leonard said.

After working for the rest of the season, Leonard texted the clubhouse manager to express his interest in full-time opportunities. A few weeks later, he received an offer and started working as assistant clubhouse manager in March.

Ryan Leonard was unhappy working in an office and « staring at a computer screen ».
Getty Images

« Being at the country club is like family to me. It’s very easy to work here and [I] enjoy it,” said Leonard, who doesn’t complain about the occasional 2 p.m. days when evening events take place. “I enjoy working where golf, tennis, activities and sports are involved. I’m getting my cardiovascular fit, so that’s a plus. Being outdoors – that’s something you can’t beat. I have an office here. I sit behind for an hour, I’m not glued to it.

Whether you’re scooping up ice cream in the Hamptons or scouting on the Jersey Shore, seasonal gigs provide opportunities to build relationships and learn new skills, creating a punch for a solid career foundation. .

Keeping the door open after the sun goes down on every summer job, just like Leonard did, is crucial. « The occasional email or text to check in and say hello is always a great way to stay top of mind, especially in the event that a potential job opportunity arises, » said Jeanniey Walden, chief innovation officer of the on-demand payment technology platform DailyPay in the financial district. “However, don’t be afraid to offer a coffee or lunch date. Nothing beats touching him in person to keep a relationship vibrant.

Lifeguards on opening day at Bushwick Pool, a newly renovated City Cool Pool on Flushing Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Summer jobs as a pool lifeguard are a great way to build up a work history.
Stephane Yang

Whether you’re earning extra money, in between gigs, or just jump-starting your career, « summer jobs are a great way to learn skills that will serve you throughout your life, » says Erin Lau. , head of HR services at the human resources consulting firm Insperity in Centre-ville. “Many summer jobs help teach invaluable customer service skills. There are very few jobs in a person’s career where they won’t have to interact with people. In addition, summer jobs expose employees to jobs and positions they never knew existed.

Career discovery was key for Ashley Boutin, 34, of Newington, Conn. Boutin thought she had nothing to lose. « I knew it was worth it – even though nothing came of it, it was a stepping stone, » she said.

This leap of faith paid off.

“It was one of my favorite summer jobs. I have to teach the sport to children and nothing is better than that.

Office full of empty cubicles
HR manager Erin Lau says summer jobs can “teach invaluable customer service skills” compared to a desk job.
Getty Images

While Boutin worked in several different camps across the state, especially trying to work in more remote camps, she constantly communicated with her boss and expressed her interest in a full-time job that she knew was there. opened. Even before it was posted, the head office contacted her.

Boutin said, “They wanted to offer me an interview because they had heard positive things about me. It was a perfect opportunity to step in the door and prove myself.

Last September, she started full-time as Skyhawks regional manager for Connecticut, managing 350 summer camps and 300 clinics and programs throughout the year.

Talking to her boss was a smart strategy, Lau said, because conversations for full-time jobs should start with approaching your manager.

“The manager may not make the final decision, but will be consulted on job performance,” she said.

When communicating with your boss, highlight what you’ve learned and express your interest in working on it for the long term. If you work in other departments of the organization, the same rule applies.

« It’s always best to speak with the current manager first, » Lau said. « Most managers are happy to help their team members develop and grow within the organization, so this should be a simple, organic conversation. »

Keep in mind that you can also negotiate the salary by discussing how you have had a positive impact on the organization. “Strategically articulate your skills and contributions in detail to show why you deserve higher compensation,” Walden said.


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