The first summer job idea is you better get one. If you are in college, now is the time to gather experience so that you will have some idea what you want to do with your life when you get out of school. Graduating from college is a very hard transition. One way you can make it emotionally treacherous is to try to support yourself with a job when you have no experience in a job.
There are lots of different strategies to take when you are looking for something to do in the summer. But each strategy has one thing in common – starting now is better than starting later.
There is wide consensus that you really must be doing something in the summer that teaches you real world experiences. So don’t sign up for summer school thinking that businesses will be impressed. Surely you already have enough school under your belt. Eighteen years, right? Summer is the time to try something new.
Look for something that will help you grow personally and professionally. Even if you don’t have a great startup idea in your back pocket, you can still think big. You have good reason to demand that your summer job be fun and stimulating — there are enough jobs out there that you don’t have to take a terrible one.
Also, don’t restrict yourself geographically. When you have two kids and a mortgage then relocation is terrible. But in college, relocation is an adventure. Apply for summer jobs all over the country.
1. Get money to go to start a company.
You have to have an idea, but if you have a good one, Y Combinator will give you about $15,000 to move to Cambridge, MA and be surrounded by people like you doing the same thing. This is a great way to learn how to build a startup. The arrangement is friendly and supportive, and even if your company doesn’t get off the ground during the summer, you will learn a lot.
Relatively few women apply to do programs like this one. So I am taking a moment to encourage women to try it. Starting a company is not only about being able to program a computer. It’s about being able to see an unmet need and find a solution. Apply by April 2.
2. Experiment in social entrepreneurship.
Experience just announced a fellowship program that matches students with non-profits for the summer. The students not only get paid to do good, but they also get paired up with mentors from management consulting firms, which really makes this is a great learning opportunity. The fellowship program was only recently announced, so you may benefit from the fact that a lot of students don’t know it exists. Apply by March 1.
3. Call someone you want to work for.
Really. Just try it. The trick is to call someone senior enough who can make an independent hiring decision, but junior enough that there are not three layers of assistants protecting him. The person you call will be flattered, and mostly likely will listen to you.
Tell this person about what you can bring to the company. (Probably your most appealing offer will be some combination of your wet-behind-the-ears enthusiasm for working and I’m-younger-than-you flair for technology.) Also, tell the person your goals for the summer, so the person can understand how they fit in. Then ask for an internship. You just might get one.
What if you try all three of these ideas and they don’t work? Keep trying. You will spend a lot of your life job hunting. You may as well get good at it now, before your life depends on it.