Summer Work
June 4, 2012 10:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm in between the end of a graduate degree and the start of a PhD. The internship positions I applied for over the summer all fell through. I'm able to stay with family in the interim, but really want to get a job to put money towards current loans, save a little bit, and pay for stuff around the house while I'm living here. What are your tips for finding a ~3 month gig? Specific details about my work history inside.

I'm in the greater Baltimore / Newark DE area.

My resume seems pretty well aligned for temp work doing clerical stuff / data entry. I've sent resumes out to a few agencies, but I haven't heard anything back, and searches on various job boards aren't turning up very much. Is it worthwhile to try to make contact on the phone, or are all of these sorts of things handled through online applications now-a-days? It feels like I'm blindly sending out resumes that probably aren't ever getting seen by a human, so that's definitely frustrating.

I have experience working as a bartender / caterer. I've never applied for a job at a restaurant before, so I'm not sure what that process is like. Is it the sort of thing that they would post online, or is it best to go in in person and talk to someone at the restaurant?

Apart from temping, food service, and retail are there any other summer job type things that I'm not considering? Nothing is off the table at the moment, but the retail jobs are definitely at the bottom of my list of options.
posted by codacorolla to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What is it that you are doing a PhD in? I would work really hard to make an internship opportunity. Data entry is a good starting point to go get a paid internship in alumni relations or development, which might help you in tenure track later on. I know a lot of schools that offer these summer opportunities but it's best to cold call and find out.
posted by parmanparman at 10:17 AM on June 4, 2012

I spent one summer in college hostessing for a chain restaurant (think Applebee's/Chili's/TGIFriday's etc.). They wouldn't hire me as a waitress knowing I would only be there a few months, but they were happy to hire me as a hostess. I got the job by walking into every chain restaurant in town and asking for an application, then returning it in person the next day. As a hostess, I would often give out applications to people who walked in to inquire (we had a stack of them) and would also take applications from people who had filled them out. When I gave filled out applications to the manager, he would ask me what I thought of the person, and he was much more likely to call them for an interview if I'd said they were polite/well-groomed/friendly than if I said they were sullen/curt/rude (you'd be surprised how many were). We were hiring basically on a rolling basis that summer. So if you want to work in food service and are willing to do front of house (no tips), try just walking in to a bunch of local places, and be very polite to whoever you talk to.
posted by ootandaboot at 10:24 AM on June 4, 2012

Retail, food service.... Just don't tell them you're moving. You could say something like you're trying to save up money for the next step. Alternatively, childcare is summer-bound.
posted by k8t at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2012

Summer camp, Day Camp, etc. A summer Nanny job. That's if you like kids. I had jobs like this when I was young and it was permanant birth control.

What about summer get-away stuff, like Rohobeth beach, Colonial Williamsburg and suchlike?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:35 AM on June 4, 2012

My experience with temp agencies is about 9 years out-of-date, but it might be helpful. Back then, people who 'sent in resumes' were mostly ignored unless they happened to meet a very specific need. 99% of getting a temp job is convincing the agencies that you are willing to show up every day even to a menial job. The best way to get a general data entry/clerical/etc temp job was to show up in person with a resume, prepared to take a skills test. Then, after the initial contact, calling the agencies every day to remind them that you are available and eager to work (yes, I mean every day).

It's possible that technology has changed the temp field somewhat, but the realities of a high unemployment rate mean that the ratio of applicants to jobs is probably even higher than it was 9 years ago. You really have to stand out from the pack, and that means being incredibly, uncomfortably persistent.
posted by muddgirl at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2012

This is more of an adjunct source of income, but if you have high standardized test scores or strong skills in something like writing, math/stats, or science, tutoring can be pretty lucrative. I've also seen ads for teaching people things like Office/Excel, so if data management is a strength that might be something else to consider. Freelancing has two main advantages: it pays much better than working with most companies, and it won't matter that you're only going to be doing it for three months. It does take a little Craigslisting to find clients though.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:03 PM on June 4, 2012

Did you mean end of undergraduate and beginning of PhD or end of graduate. If it's graduate, then I would try to do something in field - even if you are switching to a different field for the PhD. If it's undergrad I would try to find something related to your PhD - perhaps an intern with a potential adviser? Getting started early will benefit you in the end...
posted by NoDef at 1:47 PM on June 4, 2012

I've been successful talking to professors at my university to ask if they could use me as a lab assistant over the summer, or during other breaks in the school year. They usually have extra funding sitting around and are willing to get some support while undergrads are not available. It's much more useful to have this kind of work on your resume/CV. If the professors know you, or know any other profs who know you, you can usually get a foot in the door.

Good luck!
posted by blurker at 2:28 PM on June 4, 2012

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