The battle for summer jobs

Students struggle to find paying jobs that build career and resume experience


(Hamza Butt/ Creative Commons/ Flickr)

By Jacob Russian , Collegian Columnist

As the semester draws to a close, many students are preparing to return home in search of summer work. The job hunt can be intense, with college students competing for the same positions when summer break rolls around. In theory, finding summer work should not be too difficult. After all, we are qualified college students simply hoping to further our future careers. Yet employers sometimes shy away from hiring college students for summer help. This predicament leaves students overqualified for lower paying summer jobs, and underqualified for the jobs they hope to work upon completing their degrees.

Like many students, I spend hours scouring the internet for applications, hoping that a business will take me on for the next four months. Interestingly, every establishment I have applied to stated they were hiring for nearly all positions, but there was a catch: no seasonal employees wanted. Time and time again I am met with the same response, that the employer cannot hire college students because they return to school in September. This struggle is quite disheartening. I know many college students, like me, are simply looking for work in order to afford tuition and other expenses as a young adult.

College students are at a great disadvantage when it comes to finding employment during the summer, mostly because employers find it too difficult to hire and train staff only to have these workers leave months later. While I do understand the viewpoint of employers, I believe that college students are put into an unfortunate situation. Students cannot find suitable work to cover their expenses despite meeting all of the necessary requirements to obtain a job. By refusing to hire college students, employers have left young people without a means of acquiring funds they need to support themselves.

Seasonal employment is popular in certain areas, such as along the coasts. But not everyone lives in an environment where there are a multitude of seasonal options available. Sometimes, a student may only have access to local businesses in their own community, and when these same companies deny them during the hiring process, they are left jobless over the summer break.

Much like the hunt for summer jobs, the struggle to find an internship can create serious issues for college students. Finding an internship position can take months, time spent searching and competing with similarly qualified applicants. Not to mention that most internship opportunities are unpaid, leaving college students with fantastic resume experience but in a financial debacle. While these experiences may pay off in the world beyond college, the financial responsibilities of the present leave students struggling. Furthermore, full-time unpaid internships consume most of the student’s summer availability, which does not afford students the ability to have a second job that pays. This situation introduces a negative paradox for young students, where internships are necessary but financial stability is thrown to the wind. The job market after college requires experience, but the road to acquiring experience is laden with unfair circumstances.

The disappointing reality of being a college student is that earning a degree cannot be our sole focus. Our lives must revolve around affording the rising costs of college and obtaining resume-building experience. It is one thing to be tight on money during this time period; most people are. However, the system is working against college students as they attempt to work toward a better life. Society cannot expect students to develop their aspirations without giving them the opportunity to succeed. Changes must be made to the expectations placed on college students’ resume experience, we cannot allow such a damaging paradox to dictate how well young people can further their own lives post-graduation.

Jacob Russian is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]