How to Turn Your Summer Job into Resume Gold

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How did your summer job search pan out? Did you score that glamorous city internship, or should we call you Head Barista? If the odds played against your favor this time, worry not. Every job experience counts in the resume world, which means your grueling retail gig has resume potential. Whether you’re in high school and looking to gain experience, or in college and have a free summer, use this guide to turn those horrific jobs into golden resume material.


1. Retail

Credit to giphy.

Real Life Horror: Employee discounts lose their worth under the stress of retail. Customers never put things back where they belong or refold a shirt they picked up. Instead, they try to convince you of a sale on jeans, even though you get paid to know no such sale exists.

Resume Gold: For retail jobs, your resume should boast organization and customer service. Duties like “efficiently organizing and unpacking orders” and “maintaining coordinated store displays” enhance the harsh reality of constantly sorting piles of clothes on dressing room floors. Answering questions about your store’s merchandise displays your knowledge of products, so draw upon that as well. As always, problem solving with customers and co-workers impresses employers.


2. Lifeguard

Credit to giphy. 

Real Life Horror: Okay, maybe this one lacks horrification. You’d probably chill at the beach all day anyway. But factor in the startling cost of lathering up with sunscreen all day every day and the interesting characters you must deal with (lost children, guidos, seagulls), and this job means more than just relaxing in the sand.

Resume Gold: Highlight qualifications such as first aid and CPR. Additions such as knowledge of safety protocol (the specific measures you take in the case of sharks, drowning and other dangers) and remaining attentive for long periods of time make the job of sitting around in the sun seem more demanding.


3. Patty Flipper

Credit to giphy.

Real Life Horror: We all know about the repulsion of patty flipping. Cramped space, smelly, greasy food, drive-thru deadlines and coworkers barking orders. (I know because I worked front counter at Burger King: “I need an Original Chicken STAT!”) Trust me, Spongebob makes standing in front of a stove seem way cooler.

Resume Gold: How do you think Spongebob even got into boating school as a patty flipper? He spiced his position up on his resume. Employers know that even the biggest success stories start small, so patty flipping doesn’t look as poor on a resume as you think. Remember to add completing tasks quickly and efficiently in a demanding setting, communicating with coworkers to complete orders and maintaining cleanliness with knowledge of health standards. If you worked drive-thru, throw in a bit about customer service, such as communicating your knowledge of products to customers, and problem solving, such as fixing wrong orders.


4. Camp Counselor

Credit to giphy.

Real Life Horror: As fun as kayaking and camping seem on your own, ensuring the safety of ten children all day exhausts you. Not to mention sticking it out in the rain with wet shoes and socks, tick checks to prevent Lyme disease and waiting forty minutes for four-year-olds to change into their bathing suits.

Resume Gold: Focus your resume on working with other counselors to plan activities for children of all ages. How about the necessary abilities of adapting quickly and thinking on your feet when working with different scenarios each week? These skills apply especially if you work at an overnight camp and must provide 24/7 childcare. You can even amp up your title to something like “Camp Leader.”


5. Nanny

Credit to giphy.

Real Life Horror: Nannies chase kids around all day, clean up their messes, watch every kid’s movie known to man and ensure they don’t drown in the pool. If you babysit a toddler, add a few dirty diapers to the mix. Screaming fits occur once a day (on a good day), meaning you likely go home half-deaf.

Resume Gold: In place of Babysitter or Nanny as the job title, choose Childcare. It sounds more official and mature. In terms of skills, your hopscotch expertise doesn’t exactly mean anything to employers. Do you have safety qualifications such as CPR? How about planning skills, as in “coordinating activities for children in an organized manner”? These abilities enhance the frazzled reality of time-outs and broken crayons.


6. Zookeeper

Credit to giphy.

Real Life Horror: Working at a zoo could mean a few different tasks: picking up elephant poop, feeding animals, collecting trash, running the same educational program ten times daily, selling admission to sweaty moms or serving chicken fingers.

Resume Gold: If you solely shoveled elephant poop, a) why would you ever take that job, and b) what skills did you use? Did you work in a team and coordinate schedules? Did you gain knowledge of health and safety procedures and complete your duty (ha ha) in a timely fashion? Thinking about these skills will provide you with the correct job title, rather than Poop Scooper. It could be as simple as “Zoo Maintenance Team,” which demonstrates your sense of communication and collaboration in a team setting. Focus your resume on running educational programs for children if it applies–learning facts and presenting them in an entertaining and informative fashion will impress employers. 


For more articles on getting the job, check out:

CM's College Resume Survival Guide

CM's Guide to Cover Letters

Top 10 Tricky Interview Questions

Rejected Resumes: Your First Time

The 10 Colleges with the Best Career Services

Meaghan is a junior English and Communications major at Boston College. She enjoys going to concerts, taking photos, catching the train home to Cranston, Rhode Island to play outside with her three nephews and dining hall cookies.

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