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More Career Tips for You

What You Can Take Away From Your Summer Job

Career Advice |

Food service is not for the faint of heart. It takes confidence to respond calmly to angry customers, while rocking a visor that went out of style in the sixth grade. I worked at a bagel shop the summer before college—my first job with a real paycheck—and the skills I developed that summer have guided me through my career. Here are three tips to translate your summer job experience into career skills.

Lessons from your Summer Job

1. Customer service

The woman who comes in every day and asks for a latte with extra foam, and then chastises you for the excess of foam in her frothy beverage? Yes, that lady. Whatever she says, you will always keep your cool and wish her a wonderful morning. Many summer jobs will allow you to hone your customer service skills, navigate conflict, and handle difficult people at their worst—the 7 a.m. pre-caffeine grumpies.

On your resume: Deeply customer-oriented, skilled in conflict resolution. Able to demonstrate quality in service and hospitality through strong interpersonal communication skills.

2. Working well under pressure

Usually calm and collected, a frazzled barista digs around the fridge for the soymilk and looks around feverishly to see if anyone saw them spill those coffee beans onto the floor. And yes, everyone saw it. Staying cool and collected under the pressure of the lunch rush is a valuable skill that translates well to other professions during crunch-time.

On your resume: Crisis management abilities, time management. Able to maintain calm during periods of high volume to ensure the highest quality service.

3. Management skills

Everyone should work in the service industry at one point in their life. Wait tables at a diner, learn how to run the espresso machine, sell hotdogs with stale buns from the snack bar at your local beach. You will learn how to be a good customer by being a good server. In the same way, you’ll learn how to be a good manager by working at the bottom of the totem pole. Watch and learn from your management and step up to the task whenever you get the chance. Offer to train new employees or organize a new inventory system. These experiences will provide tangible resume boosters.

On your resume: Able to manage, motivate, and develop staff skills. Willing to work as part of a team.

Don’t stress if you missed the internship boat this summer or lived at home to save some money while working—you will gain plenty of marketable skills to enhance your resume when the summer is over.

Have a favorite skill you learned from years of pouring water or folding shirts? Share with us in the comments!

Ask Levo Mentor Bonnie McDaniel, Founder of Women are Talking Initiative, what she learned from her low-level sales experience and what it taught her about being a manager.

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It's super helpful that you gave examples of how to describe what skills you developed on your resume. I always find it difficult to translate skills but this is a good starting point.


I agree and say that everyone should work in the service industry at least once, it develops your work ethic and gives you a better sense of who you are and the world around you. I really like all these tips because summer jobs may seem tedious but they can teach you great skills.


I love how this article outlines the career experience we can get from jobs like food service, and gives ways it can be communicated in resumes!


Working well under pressure is such an important skill to learn! Its a skill thats used in so many situations, and is required in every job you'll ever have!


This article is a great reminder that all skills are marketable. In the long run, the type of work you did one summer is less important than the skills you gained from it. Great advice!


I like the way this article translates real-life work experiences into resume-ready descriptions. Learning how to interpret my experiences in a way that showcases my skills has always been a challenge for me. Thanks for the advice!


Thanks for writing this - every job teaches you something but realizing what you've learned is what is truly marketable.


"Everyone should work in the service industry at one point in their life...You will learn how to be a good customer by being a good server. In the same way, you’ll learn how to be a good manager by working at the bottom of the totem pole." SO TRUE. Great insight!

Your Coffee Break

Your Coffee Break is a lifestyle magazine for the professional woman. Based in London with representatives in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, Your Coffee Break has rapidly established itself as the go-to magazine for business women across the globe looking for inspiring content to read during their coffee break. Follow us on twitter at @UrCoffeeBreak