Part-time jobs can be more than just a chance to make some extra money. Every employment or volunteer experience is an opportunity to build up a new set of valuable career skills–even those you don’t think tie directly to your career path.

Share these helpful hints with your college students for developing skills in their summer jobs that may be applied to their future careers.

Communication skills

Just about every job listing states that candidates should possess excellent written and verbal communications skills. Having the ability to communicate appropriately in person is key, but learning to communicate via email or online is also valuable. And a summer job is the perfect time to begin honing your customer service skills.

Communicating effectively doesn’t always come naturally for those new to the job market, but it’s easy to pick up with practice. If you work directly with customers, you’ll become more comfortable speaking with new people every day. Otherwise, practice actively participating in meetings, proposing new ideas, and volunteering to take on written assignments.

Technical skills

Technical skills gained in summer jobs can help secure a full-time position later on. Perhaps you helped a local retail store set up their first company social page. Or maybe you help develop a new website feature. Even learning to use a checkout payment app can be beneficial.

Some jobs call for very specialized skills, but nearly all will require experience with the basic computer skills. List all of your technical skills on your resume, and future employers will know you’re willing and able to learn.

Project management skills

Look for opportunities to take on new assignments and to manage your own projects. You may just find that one impacts the rest of your path you want to take in school. For example, volunteering to design a flyer for a business could spark an interest in graphic design. Not to mention, future hiring managers love to ask, “What is the project you’re most proud of?” and it helps to have a variety to draw from.

Your ability to work well within a group is valuable too. A good team player is easier to work with and helps projects move more efficiently. These are skills that even those with decades of experience may lack, so start building these habits early.

Problem solving and research

Managers like workers who have the ability to solve problems on their own. When dealing in “real time” with a customer in person, stay calm and remain positive. Try to think on your feet, but don’t give answers your unsure of. If you’re solving a technical issue, get in the habit of looking up solutions to your problems online as your first step.

Otherwise, get to know the roles of your colleagues so you don’t need to ask a dozen people before finding the one that can help you. Never pass up an opportunity to teach yourself something new.

If you’ve got a knack for numbers or research, you may get to help your company gather data or conduct research. Research and data analysis are extremely valuable in many business settings and a great skills to carry with you.


You’ll meet people from all backgrounds in your summer job, and they may just be helpful references for you in the future. You can start building your network in your first job by staying in touch with the people you work with after the summer.

To do this easily, it’s a good idea to build a LinkedIn profile, if you haven’t already done so. Keep it up to date and connect with as many colleagues as you can. For tips on building your network, visit our post, “Developing Your List of Professional References.”

What summer job skills do you find to be most beneficial to post-graduation employment? Share your ideas below.