Mucci's map to summer success

Summertime in Vancouver approaches, and students are already looking for the perfect summer job. Unfortunately, good work often comes at the expense of good fun. Josh Holmes, a Cap graduate, summed this up for me during a recent car ride.

It's generally a beautiful day, and all you want to do is hang out with your friends. Maybe go to the beach, but all you get to do is go toil away, at ... a menial, minimum wage paying job. That doesn’t sound appealing.”

This warning about how my summer could “potentially seriously suck” made me realize that a lot of people out there are having some difficulties with trying to figure out the best way to spend their summer, and balance making money with a great experience.

To make things a little easier, I have compiled a hit-list list of some of the best summer jobs for students. They aren't perfect, but they are aimed at finding the best balance between strategic resume building, rate of pay, and good wholesome fun.

Be ready to hit the pavement hard, and hit it early. If you want to start working on May 1st, start looking for the job on April 1. It gives you enough time to schedule interviews and deal with callback interviews. It also makes you look prepared and efficient. Send a hundred emails and visit the places you actually want to work and drop of your resume personally.

Suit Up”. Yes, this is a quote from How I Met Your Mother, but it is still true. Your first impression really will be the strongest. Adapt your outfits to fit an employers expectations. If you are trying to get a job planting trees this summer, don’t show up for the interview wearing a tie. The right attire will show that you understand how to fit smoothly into a team.

Always show up ten minutes early for the interview. Fifteen minutes can be a little too eager, while five minutes doesn’t give you enough time to calm your nerves -- you don't want to appear rushed.

Write a kick-ass cover letter. This is legitimately one of the few times in your life where you can talk about every awesome aspect of who you are without coming off like a total ass. State your intention clearly in the beginning, then move on to your experience. Describe what this has taught you about life, then relate those insights or skils to the job you are applying for.

One page resume. After selling yourself through the cover letter, your resume should highlight some of your literal experience in the work force, your volunteer work, and your education level. It should also include your intent. List your experience prominently and don't go into tiny details. That is what your interview is for. It also pays to consult the job bank for tips. They have paid staff to assist you in perfecting your resume.

Call back. Sometimes employers just want to know who wants the job the most. Call and ask if they received your resume. Sometimes it's hard for an employer to make a decision when they have a full inbox of applicant names, so distinguish yourself early by making a personal contact. You can usually get the interview scheduled this way.

Prepare yourself. Athletes train before marathons, singers warm up their voices, and comics try jokes out on each other, so what are you going to do? Get someone to pretend to interview you until you can kill the answers. Just remember, sometimes you will be asked questions that you aren’t ready for. Be honest, but don’t be stupid. 

1. Tree Planting

Many planters report that you can make $300 a day if you are experienced, but the work is hard and it usually takes a few seasons to get you up to speed. The pros include living in a tent for the summer, having great campfire parties, and becoming immersed in nature. The cons are bugs, bears, and backbreaking labour, on top of the fact that you have to poop in the woods. See for details.

2. Interning

Ted Sloan, an actor attending the University of Alberta, once spent a summer working at a local radio station in his hometown. While the pay wasn’t great, his experience was. “In one summer I had my arm-pits waxed, rode a blimp, [and] threw up in a 1947 fighter plane. I got into everything for free, too. I just said I was in the media, and I got to meet some of the coolest people ever.”

Unless you are in a co-op program, finding an internship in the summer requires a some digging on your own. Ask anyone that you want to work for if they take interns. After all, who doesn't want free labour? Check -- it deals specifically with students and graduates looking to break into their chosen area of work.

The pros to interning are the experience and the ability to network. The cons include the possibility of being a coffee runner for an entire summer or working insane hours, all without guaranteed pay. In fact, many internships pay close to nothing.

3. Lifeguarding

David Clarkson, a Cap student, has worked as a lifeguard for several summers now, and describes the pro side of the job: “Hot girls or guys, very good pay, awesome coworkers, [and] the job title acts as a pick up line.”

The pay can be upwards of $20 per hour depending on where you work, and if you get a job working on the waterfront, you’re basically set.”

The downside, according to David, is that you cannot show up hung over, because if someone gets hurt on your watch you will be held criminally negligent, and there is the possibility of being stuck teaching swimming lessons for four hours out of a day.

You need certification, though, so start looking at requirements early. These can take a half year to complete if you're starting from scratch, but the money is worth it. Check out

4. Serving/Bartending

Jamie Ward, an accounting student, worked as a server for several summers during her stint in university. Via e-mail, she sums up the experience quite neatly: “The pros: Tons of money, and it’s seasonal. This is a job where it’s fairly easy to find work, even in the interior of BC. The cons are the terrible hours ... and how stressful the job can be at times.”

Breaking into the service industry isn’t as easy as it looks -- most restaurants require servers to have certificates from the Serving It Right program, and very few will start a new server working any of the busy shifts where the most money is made. $100 a day in tips plus wages is a good point to aim for. Just be willing to work any shift they give you, because otherwise they’ll move onto the next person.

5. Office Work:

According to Siobhan Brenton, student at Grande Prairie Regional College, acting as “an office junkie ... pays great, however it is extremely boring.”

The pros to this sort of job are that if a person applies early enough, it’s very easy to find work and the hours are pretty standard. The downside to working in an office is the fact that it doesn’t always promise great pay, and weekends are the only real opportunity to catch a few rays.

Each office will offer its own wages, and you can expect anywhere from 10-17 dollars an hour. An added bonus with office jobs is that, depending on your fall schedule at school, you could potentially continue your employment, part time.

6. Landscaping/College Paint Pro Work:

Capilano alumnus and Opinions Editor Sam MacDonald explains how this job can be so rewarding for a student in the summer: “I was paid extremely well  for it, [I] got to work outside, and it was physically demanding enough that I didn’t need to go to the gym. It was usually forgiving hours, from 9-4.” 

However, Severin France, a Film Program alumnus from Cap U, had a different experience with College Pro Painters. He complained about bad organization and trouble getting paid. An average pay rate is between $10-13 dollars per hour to start for painters, and over $15 for landscapers, but a good worker can get a raise quickly in both jobs.

To get a hold of a College Pro Painters, call (604) 556-0015, or go online to

//Nicole Mucci

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