Getting a Summer Job – What Options do I Have?

Apart from having a jol and soaking up Vitamin D, your big break is the perfect time to get a summer job, to get experience and start building up a sexy CV.

When that beautiful, long-overdue day arrives on which you get to walk out of your school or varsity building and dive into your holiday, the thought of getting a summer job is probably quite far removed from your mind. Makes sense. You just worked a whole academic year, getting up early to go to class, handing in assignments and writing exams – you deserve a break.

Sure, the idea of having 2 or 3 months of chillaxsation might sound appealing at first, but as week three approaches, you might realise that you could have used the big break for something… more?

Whether you are still in high school, just finished Matric, or already at varsity, using your break to get a summer or student job is a smart thing to do, for many reasons. Think about it. If you can choose to use this time to get work experience, make some money, and build up your CV while still having enough time to enjoy yourself, why wouldn’t you?

Why Should I take on a Summer Job?

Here are some advantages of getting a summer job:

• Get invaluable work experience
• Get insight into a specific industry
• Gain new skills and knowledge
• Make and save up some money
• Make new friends
• Build up your CV
• Feel more productive and independent

What are your options? Plenty! Have a look at our suggestions below!

Waitering, Bartending, and Hostessing

The hospitality industry offers lots of classic summer student jobs. It’s peak season, and tourists are streaming into the country, often in generous, festive moods – there is decent potential to make big bucks from tips.

Why it’s valuable:

  • Learn to work under pressure
  • Get the hang of problem-solving
  • Get people skills
  • Learn how to sell
  • Get management skills
  • Get financial skills

Drop your CV at some restaurants or bars that you would like to work at. Most places don’t mind if you send it in an e-mail (don’t forget to include a short and friendly introduction – it’s unprofessional to send an attachment with a blank e-mail ).

FYI: Remember that you can’t serve alcohol if you are under 18.

Promotional Work

It’s another great one for summer, especially if you’re fun and outspoken and enjoy approaching people. Promotional work can involve activities like handing out flyers or free samples of a product (from chocolate and energy drinks to apps and gym memberships), essentially being a brand ambassador.

Why it’s valuable:

  • Become confident in pitching
  • Learn salesmanship
  • Get people skills
  • Get marketing skills

There are lots of promotion agencies in South Africa, so one of the easiest ways to become a promoter is to search the web for an agency in your city, and sign up.

FYI: If you are under 18, you won’t be able to promote alcohol.

Work in a Shop

This is a nice option for a part-time job so that you get both the work and holiday experience during your break. You could work in an art gallery, at a market, or a clothing store, for example.

Why it’s valuable:

  • Learn salesmanship
  • Get people skills
  • Get computer skills

Intern and Job Shadow

You might be on break, but the rest of the country is still hard at work. If you’re in school, why not job shadow for one or two weeks during the holiday? It’s one of the best ways for you to see if you like a certain industry or not. Sometimes job shadowing can actually teach you what you don’t want to do with your life, which is also a valuable lesson. This can prevent you from studying toward something that you actually won’t enjoy at all.

If you’re at varsity, why not use your break to do an internship in your field of study? Work experience often gets puts on a shelf while you study, and you need to make up for it after graduation. So why not get ahead and use your holiday to gain some hands-on experience in the career you wish to pursue.

Why it’s valuable:

  • Learn what you want and don’t want in a career
  • Discover new interests
  • Network
  • Get skilled in a specific area

If job shadowing sounds cool, you might also want to check out this option.

Volunteer

If you don’t want to work, but still want to do something productive, then volunteering is a very good option. It’s an opportunity for you to give back and be part of a positive change. There are endless amounts of organisations that would be delighted to have an extra set of helping hands.

Pick a cause that you feel passionate about – for example, animal shelters, the environment, or orphanages.

Why it’s valuable:

  • Live out your passion or interest
  • Contribute to social and environmental change
  • Get skilled in a specific area
  • Make new friends

Check out this article to learn about charity organisations that are either part of, or located close to some of South Africa’s top universities.

You can also have a browse through Sangonet Pulse (South African NGO Network) to get some inspiration. There are articles, information pages, NGO listings, and more for you to have a look at.

Other Job Ideas

  • Extra on a film or TV set
  • PA in the film industry
  • Call centre agent
  • Takeaway delivery
  • Holiday tutoring
  • Studio assistant (e.g. yoga, in exchange for free classes)
  • Babysitting/ Aupairing
  • Dog Walking
  • Pet/Housesitting

Popular Excuses…

I’m not 18 yet – kids shouldn’t work.

Well there are lots of things you shouldn’t legally do before you turn 18, but we don’t hear any objections about some of those things, now do we? Exactly. You’re not a kid anymore. So what is wrong with getting a summer job or volunteering and doing something useful with your time that will benefit you with experience, skill, and possibly some money?

In South Africa, you can get a job from the time you turn 15. There are labour laws that serve to protect you from exploitation, such as having to do jobs that are a risk to your health and wellbeing, or that aren’t appropriate for ages under 18 (like selling alcohol).

If you are under 15, you can only work in the performing arts (like a star in a TV commercial), and with a valid permit from the Department of Labour.

To check out the basic South African child labour laws, click here.

I don’t have any experience, so no one will hire me.

The old paradox. You need the experience to get a job, but you first need a job to get experience. We get it. We’ve been there. And we all started out inexperienced…

So, if you can’t bring experience to the table, you need to rely on your willingness, and eagerness to learn. If you are enthusiastic and competent and can convince someone that you will do a good job, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to find something. No CV is built overnight, and every little job you get will form part of your overall experience.

Check out this snazzy article on how to write your CV.

How can I job shadow or intern if I don’t know anyone in the industry?

This is what sets the go-getters apart from the chillers. If you really want to job shadow someone but don’t have any contacts, then you need to make it happen. And if you have the right amount of determination and persistence, you will.

Let’s say you want to shadow a chef, but you don’t know any chefs, you need to be pro-active. Send tons of emails, make phone calls, and personally go to restaurants and ask that you can introduce yourself to a chef, explaining that you would love to job shadow and learn.

Be eager, enthusiastic, and pleasant, and you are bound to find someone who is keen to show you the ropes.

I don’t have a car, so how will I get to work?

Yes, this can sometimes be a lass, especially if you can’t cover public transport costs or if you depend on family and friends for lifts.

However, if you do have some money to invest in transport, then there are options like taking the train, bus, or a taxi to get to the job. If you don’t live far away, you can also use a bicycle or walk (granted that it’s safe).

EduConnect’s Study in SA tutorial series covers the modes of transport in SA – check it out.

Depending on the kind of work you do and the job arrangement you have, you and your employer can discuss what kind of transport options there are for you. Unfortunately, many jobs and positions will require you to have your own transport, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for alternatives.

There really aren’t many valid reasons not to try and get involved in some of these suggestions. We are the last people to tell you that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself – absolutely do enjoy yourself. But if you can do so while also filling the piggy bank of experience, you are automatically a step ahead of anyone else who decides to just chill. Not only does it give you work experience, but it contributes to the shaping of your character, maturity, and life perspective.

EduConnect 2Cents

The amazing part about doing something worthwhile during your summer holidays is that, in some way, it’ll always contribute to your life. If you’re really put off by getting a job, you can still work on building your skills. How about doing something completely different like a First Aid course, a Lifesaving course, become a firefighting volunteer or go to a sports clinic. It’s always beneficial to have those extra skills in life and the options are endless. What it comes down to is that you are free to transform your CV into whatever you want and it doesn’t need to cost you much. In the end, it’s completely up to you what you want to do in your summer holidays 🙂 We’re just here to give you some guidance, some suggestions and inspire you to fuel your brains.