Careers advice

4 skill-building summer jobs for students

Summer jobs are a great way to bolster your CV with new skills, while earning some cash on the side.

Summer holidays in Aotearoa mean a few things – sunscreen, BBQs and the inevitable Fat Freddy’s tour, to name a few.

However, for high school and uni students, the long break is also a great opportunity to get some work experience onto the old CV. But where to start?

To help, we’ve got some tips on finding the best summer jobs in NZ for growing your skill set, as well as your bank balance.

There are heaps of hospo jobs on offer in summer where you can learn important soft skills like communication and teamwork.

Summer job idea #1: Hospitality

As one of the world's most desirable tourist destinations, there are always plenty of hospo holiday jobs available across New Zealand.

Even better, employers in this industry love short-term staff who can get them through the busy season, before they downscale again when things get quieter.

As well as being sociable and energetic working environments, hospitality jobs offer a bunch of transferable skills that will look great to future interviewers. Stuff like:

  • Communication – from dealing with customers (polite and otherwise) to working as part of a team, the soft skills you’ll gain in hospo are highly sought after in all sectors.
  • Cash handling – in addition to the technical know-how of tasks like balancing tills, if your boss trusts you with money it’s a clear sign to future employers that you’re responsible and honest.
  • Hazard identification – occupational health and safety is becoming increasingly important, so being able to identify and reduce risks are useful skills to have under your belt.

Summer job idea #2: Retail

Whether we’re spending $60 on a pair of jeans – or several hundred on a new phone – for most of us, shopping doesn’t require a lot of thought. A summer working in retail will soon change this.

Fast-paced shops are some of the best summer jobs from a skill-building perspective, even if your intended career path is a world away from the high street. There’s a heck of a lot to learn, including:

  • A solid work ethic – on your feet all day, juggling multiple tasks, retail isn’t for the faint of heart, and recruiters know it. You'll also gain great customer service skills by dealing with a wide variety of people, queries and (unfortunately) complaints.
  • Commercial thinking – learning to put yourself into the shoes of a consumer will set you up when applying for jobs in marketing, advertising and much more.
  • Attention to detail – stock takes, product ordering and delivery management all require a careful and methodical approach, and demonstrate your ability to handle responsibility.

There are plenty of skills you can gain from working in a busy retail environment.

Summer job idea #3: Administration

Temp admin jobs come up frequently throughout the year, and are a great option if you’re looking to beef up your CV.

While you can’t be guaranteed a real-life ‘The Office’ experience from a summer admin job, there are heaps of skills on offer, for example:

  • Software expertise – all modern grads have used tools like the Microsoft suite, but doing so in a professional capacity will help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Payroll experience – this will depend on the specific admin role you land, but any involvement in payroll is super transferable to future positions.
  • Database management – modern businesses are data driven (or getting there), so if you can show that you’ve taken ownership of data entry and analysis, you’re onto a winner!

Summer job idea #4: Holiday programmes

Among the most fun summer jobs in NZ, working for a kids holiday programme has obvious benefits if you’re considering a career in teaching or childcare. However, this is another setting that provides lots of scope for broad development – you’ll learn:

  • Leadership skills – from sports to music to art, you’ll be coming up with, and running, lots of different activities. This requires planning, energy and the ability to think on your feet when one of your charges throws you a curveball. Because they will, we promise.
  • Patience – hopefully you’ll never work in an environment where colleagues pull each others’ hair, insist on telling knock-knock jokes, or start food fights. If your nerves can survive a summer with a fleet of 8-year-olds, you can deal with even the most exasperating workplace dramas.
  • Responsibility – ultimately, it’s up to you to ensure the kids are healthy, happy and safe. This is no mean feat, and a great skill to develop in an age where emotional intelligence is so highly prized by employers.

Working with kids during your summer holiday is rewarding, fun and valuable.

Regardless of what summer job you take, simply having some real working experience on your CV can set you apart from your peers. Importantly, it will also give you some talking points during those first few nerve-wracking job interviews.

At the end of your holiday job, don’t forget to add the experience to your Trade Me Job Profiles. You can use this tool to start building up your online presence, and help recruiters to find you in the future.

Now, get out there and start looking for that perfect summer holiday job!