You can get your volunteer tshirt before anyone else. Score! Image courtesy of Abhishek Kumar. Licensed under CC BY-2.0.It’s tempting to spend the last few weeks of summer either sprawled out on the couch or focusing entirely on your internship/study abroad/summer school/job. However, if you’ve begun to plan for the upcoming semester (and, given that you read this site, that’s a given), these last few weeks can be put to good use as a time to look for retail work, on-campus jobs, and volunteer opportunities.

Retail work: If you plan to work outside of the comforting folds of your campus, now’s the time to start looking. This will of course be easier if you live nearby to where you go to school, but if you can find large chains (particularly grocery stores) that have online applications, that will help you even if you’re far away. Right now is the time when hiring managers are about to lose their back-for-the-summer student employees, and they’re eager to hire right now, rather than waiting until after their current employees head back to their own schools. If you’re not from the same town as your school is in, but know people who went to high school there, ask them for suggestions–they’ll know local chains which are likely to hire you. Case in point: I applied to work at a local ice cream shop a few months ago and never heard anything back. Yesterday, I got a call back from them for an interview–people who work there have told me that, during the summer months, an interview is as good as a job offer, since the place is struggling to fill its fall schedule.

On-campus jobs: This is a little trickier, because on-campus jobs frequently go to work study students who have priority, which may start getting sorted out once everyone’s on campus. However, if there are on-campus jobs which can go to non-work-study students (at my school, they’re called workship, but your mileage may vary), they’re likely hiring right now. If you’re taking a summer school course, this is a great option for securing fall employment. Good places to look for soon-to-be-open jobs are campus computer labs, the dining hall (if your school uses student dining workers), and front desks of gym facilities. Desk jobs in general are likely to employ a large group of students, and so may employ people even before work-study gets sorted out. Ask the students working the desk if the place is about to start hiring–chances are high that they are.

Volunteer gigs: If you know that there’s a local organization that you want to work with in the fall, go ahead and reach out to them now. If it’s a popular organization, they’re likely to be swamped with applications in the fall–you want to be the first to get in, before the rest of the students come back. You’ll look proactive, and you can get a leg up on training if you’re already living in your college town. Even if not, you’ll have a secure volunteer position for when you return in the fall, and that’s one less thing to think about during move in.

Do you have any additional tips for the proactive perspective employee? Let us know in the comments!