We caught up with Joan Schiebelbein, Director of the University of Alberta Career Centre, to find out about her experience with summer employment.
How would you describe your experience with summer employment during university? Were all of your summer jobs related to your field of work?
All of the summer jobs I had when I was an undergraduate student at the U of A were manual labour. One was with a student painting company. When it came to describing that job on my resume, I didn’t know what to write besides “Painted houses.” However, when I really think about how I did that job and the environment I worked in, I see that I developed some very valuable transferable skills. Let me explain.
I worked the whole summer with one other student. Our boss would take us to a new job site, review what needed to be done, tell us how much time we had to do it, and give us our supplies. Sometimes we wouldn’t see him again for days. My partner and I would decide when our work day would begin and end, when we would take breaks, and who would be responsible for doing what. If there were any problems with the job, we worked them out with the homeowner. If they couldn’t be resolved, then we were responsible for contacting our boss.
We were only paid for the number of hours budgeted for the job. If we went over budget our actual hourly wage was lower than what we were hired at, but if we were under budget our actual hourly wage was higher. After about a month’s experience, we often came under budget and still received positive feedback from our customers, some of whom would actually leave us a house key so that we had access to a washroom. One even let us use her swimming pool!
So what transferable skills did I develop through this experience? Teamwork, customer service, problem solving, responsibility, and trustworthiness just to name a few – these are all skills I’ve continued to use throughout my career.