Careers advice

Where to look for holiday jobs in the summer of 2020/1

If you’re a student looking for summer work experience this summer, where do you turn? Here are some expert insights.

For many high school and uni students in New Zealand, the summer break represents a chance to get some solid work experience on the CV and welcome cash in the pocket.

But if you were hoping to dip your toe into the world of work this summer, you might be more unsure than usual about where to get that experience. After all, we know that COVID-19 has hit hospitality, tourism and retail particularly hard, sectors that are often near the top of the list for students looking for summer work.

Of course, we’re not saying that there are no jobs at all in these sectors, but we thought it would be useful to provide alternatives. To get some expert insights, we spoke to Sam Sanders, a recruitment consultant at Stellar Recruitment, to get his tips on where students can look for jobs in this most unusual of summer holidays.

Which sectors are offering summer job opportunities for students this year?

Sam named five sectors where he’s seeing strong demand for labour, and that are particularly well suited for the type of short-term/seasonal work experience students search for during their summer breaks. They are:

  • Fruit and vegetable picking.
  • Viticulture.
  • Work in wineries.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Agriculture.

Pre-COVID, these industries relied heavily on imported labour to meet their demands, a source that has all but completely dried-up as a result of New Zealand’s border closures. As a result, Sam is seeing employers change their recruitment practices, gearing them towards school and university students.

In addition, he says that for more specialised roles in wineries in particular, employers are willing to put students through training and certifications where needed before they start on the job, providing an excellent boost to CVs. Positions in this sector can include supervising deliveries of grapes, operating forklift trucks and helping with the cultivation process.

Viticulture is one area where Sam sees good opportunities for younger Kiwis to gain experience this summer.

What makes these environments great for skill building and work experience?

If you’re thinking ‘those roles sound great, but they don’t really marry up with your intended career path’, it’s important to realise there are heaps of transferable skills and benefits that will come from getting this real work experience under your belt.

“When you go to apply for jobs, you’ll have really good work references on your CV, not just academic references. This can be half the battle when you’re trying to get into graduate jobs further down the track.” says Sam.

On top of this, you’ve got that extra training, and possibly some additional qualifications next to your name. Many of the types of jobs you’d be performing in these sectors are particularly useful if you’re looking to travel and work overseas when COVID is under control. You’ll get to develop great soft skills, like teamwork, communication and working under pressure, which are crucial in every workplace environment, and hard to get without real work experience.

What’s more, Sam emphasises that these environments can be exciting, vibrant places to work, and a chance to try something new. “People come from as far away as the UK and US to do jobs in these sectors, so why not go down to Cromwell and try your hand at fruit picking or head to Blenheim and get involved with the wineries?” he says.

The other benefit of giving it a go, is that perhaps you’ll find a passion you never knew you had. While these jobs are often excellent in terms of flexibility, Sam says that many such businesses are keen to hang onto great Kiwi workers, and have off-season opportunities, meaning that, if you enjoy the work, this summer try-out could have the potential to develop into a career.

Fruit picking can be fun, social and a great way to get experience on your CV.

How do you go about applying for these jobs with no experience?

In addition to approaching businesses directly to look for work during your summer break, Sam suggests using online job boards, like Trade Me Jobs, or getting in touch with recruitment agencies like Stellar, who can help get your CV in front of the right people.

It’s important to realise that, for many of these roles, prior experience isn’t necessary, with employers keen to take on hard-working staff who want to learn and grow. What’s more, given that the regions where these roles are common are used to catering to migrant staff, there’s usually plenty of accommodation on offer, and heaps of like-minded people giving it a go for the first time.