Summer Job THRIVE Guide

Initially, I was asked to write a summer job survival guide to share with DECA members as they embarked on another summer of employment.

I began writing this article while attending the 2013 DECA International Career Development Conference. The theme for the event was “THRIVE” and it suddenly dawned on me that DECA members don’t just survive difficult or challenge experiences; they THRIVE on creating solutions and overcoming obstacles.

So, what I’d rather give you is not a survival guide, but a THRIVE guide. You’re a DECA student; you’re already sharp and motivated. You know how to survive. My intention for you is that you execute the following principles at your summer job and THRIVE.

  1. No matter what you do this summer, remember to learn, show up every day and MAKE IT COUNT.

My boss always tells the groups of summer students we work with that, “Since you’ve made the decision to be here, actually be here.”

You’re going to physically show up every day this summer, so decide to mentally show up as well. Be present and engaged in what you’re doing because you’ll start to notice systems and processes – you’ll notice patterns of human behavior or common pitfalls. You will grow when you’re engaged.

This summer, put the skills that you’ve learned in DECA to work – and expand them. If you’re going to be a hostess or waitress, apply your customer service and up-selling skills. Perhaps you’ll have a job at the mall – consider how can you apply what you’re learning in marketing or apparel marketing in that role? Maybe you’ll be a nanny this summer – how can you apply your networking and referral-generating skills to grow your clientele.

  1. See what could be, instead of simply looking at what is.

Imagine you have three options for a job this summer:

  1. Work at a fast-food drive-in. Wear retro clothing. Bring people food on roller skates
  2. Work for a DJ. Attend weddings and bar Mitzvahs and lead guests in cheesy choreographed routines.
  3. Sell knives to moms and dads, business people, and realtors.

I was privileged to experience all three positions as a student.  As quirky, funny, or downright unappealing as those positions may sound, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in each of them, and more importantly, I grew within each role.

I am currently still working for option c, selling knives. This is a summer job that never ended for me.

These days, I’ve moved into a management role and I love what I do, but if you had told my 19-year-old self that I would work full-time for a knife company and that I would love it, I would’ve laughed you out of the room.

So let yourself dream and be open to future opportunities at your summer job. See beyond your current internship or entry-level position and look to where the company could take you if you really excel and build the right relationships. See things as they could be.

  1. Always ask questions and find allies.

A mentor of mine once told me that it’s ok to not know how to do something, but it’s NOT ok to not ask for help. One of the biggest mistakes I see new hires make is struggling in silence with their managers. Ask any and all questions as they come to you. You will learn the why and the how of what’s happening in your organization, and that will help you connect the principles you’ve learned in the classroom to the real-life situations you’re encountering. Find a manager, supervisor, or even a more-seasoned/veteran peer to turn to. Get to know that person, share your goals with them, and ask questions. Take responsibility for your own development.

As a DECA student, you’ve exhibited a hunger for knowledge and growth when you decided to participate in the organization. You know the secret to thriving: find something you’re passionate about, have a blast, and take ownership of your education. You can use this summer to grow, enjoy and make new friends, but also ask questions, create solutions, challenge yourself, and THRIVE!

Follow Vector on Twitter @CampusVector

Categories: Career Advice, College & Career Advice, DECA News, Job Advice, Marketing