How to Get a Job: A Really, Really General Guide

Brynn Lewis, Staff Writer


Summer is right around the corner, and with it comes the looming deadline to find a summer job. Maybe you’ve already got something lined up—if you do, good for you! If you don’t, now might be the time to start handing out those résumés.

When you start your job hunt, make sure to apply for lots of  different jobs. Frame yourself in the best light possible by writing a solid résumé; there are tons of resources available on the internet to help with this. One really awesome and light-hearted example can be found here. After you’ve checked and double-checked your CV (curriculum vitae, or a fancy word for a résumé), drop copies of it off everywhere. If you want to impress employers, include a well-written cover letter—and if you really want to impress your future boss, include a personalized cover letter tailored to the specific job you’re applying for.

If you get called for an interview, you’ll most likely need references—people who can vouch for your character and work ethic. It’s always a good idea to contact people who could be potential references in advance, because you’ll want to give them time to think about their comments on you. A good reference letter from a past employer can mean the difference between a job and no job at all, so make sure you’ve got them lined up before the interview date—and ideally before you start handing out your résumés.

What do you do if you don’t want to start at the bottom of the greasy fast food chain, but don’t really have any work experience? Easy—volunteer. Get involved in a club, spend time at the Edmonton Humane Society, or help out at a local hospital. If you can, look for volunteer positions that involve a weekly commitment or can potentially become long-term activities. Sustained service for a specific organization will show potential employers that you’re a dedicated worker and have long-term interests, which are desirable qualities most employers look for in their new hires. Even if you can’t give tons of your time to volunteering, a couple of hours at the food bank over a longer period of time goes a long way to flesh out a beginner’s résumé.

Here are a few job ideas for the ambitious high schooler:

  • The Service Industry: The jobs you can get in the service industry range from fast food joints to coffee shops to fancy restaurants. While many restaurants require waiters and waitresses to be eighteen or older, if you plan to become one later (and get all those lucrative tips customers leave as a reward for good service) you can get your foot in the door with a host or hostess position. 
  • Retail: Like service jobs, retail jobs come in a wide range of different positions. There’s more than just clothing stores out there—choose a place that fits your personality. Be sure to consider things like whether you want to work on commission.
  • Legislature Page: You’d have to miss some school when the legislative assembly is in session, but this is an amazing opportunity for high school students! Pages distribute documents and deliver messages, getting a close and personal look at Albertan government and interacting with MLA’s on a daily basis. Plus, you get paid $13.25/hour or more! ☻
  • Swim Instructor/Life GuardIf you’ve reached the level of certification you need to be qualified for these positions (or getting there) you should definitely go for it! They are a clear step up from minimum wage. 
  • Library Student Page: The Edmonton Public Library hires high school students to shelve books and help out around their branches as student pages. If you’re a bibliophile, this might be the job for you.  
  • Internships: While this would only be a summer job, if you are passionate about science you can apply for research internships through programs like WISEST and HYRS. These jobs can open up many new possibilities and provide great work experience.

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