How to find a summer job

Andrew Connolly suggests that finding a summer job is not as impossible as it seems, you just need to know the tricks of the trade

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One of the most monotonous, energy-draining, and straight-up boring tasks a modern college student will face each summer is the search for a job.

At present, 15.3% of Irish people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed. Compared to the national unemployment rate of 7.8%, a very obvious, and very curious question arises. The price of transport, a social life, and, particularly in recent years, accommodation, are obstacles that must be overcome. And in most cases, they are obstacles the student themselves must take charge in overcoming. If the need exists, why are youth unemployment rates so much higher?


The fact that it’s nigh on impossible for a young person to find a job actually carries more weight than one would be comfortable with. Whilst it is possible to find a job as a young person, it is a far from easy task. Not everyone has a pub-owner in the family who can throw them a few hours each week. The simple fact is that, often, there are multiple factors in the hiring process which simply do not work in your favour.

A lack of experience serves as the first barrier. It is a classic example of  a Catch-22 situation. It is ludicrous yet also reasonable that the job-seeker cannot get a job without experience, nor experience without a job. Ad infinitum. This vicious cycle is a favourite of bar managers and restaurant owners. “2 years experience a must” is a common element of the title of any ad on This phrase helps separate the untrained chaff from the professional wheat. Sadly, you may very well be the chaff.


From the beginning of Michaelmas Term until the last exam paper is handed up, they are your fellow classmates. Otherwise, they are the competition. The odds of getting a call from the a store manager, asking you to “come in for a chat” tomorrow, grows slimmer with every CV that comes through the door. It is not anyone’s fault, of course. It is simple truth that the market being flooded with thousands of job-seekers which makes finding employment more difficult.

Furthermore, training new staff is a necessary task, but not one a manager necessarily wants to have to do. A person, able to work flexible hours, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, will more often than not get preference over a student who can only work for a couple of months, and then mostly weekends after September. It may be a summer job that you are looking for. But not every business wants a summer employee.

Getting one foot in the door

Of course, it is certainly possible to find a boss who is understanding, and is happy to keep you part-time once term rolls back around. In fact, such an employer seems to be reasonably common. The majority of employers seem to be sympathetic with the time restrictions that have been placed upon you, but only if you can get in the door in the first place, that is. And that is where “part-time unwillingness”, the preference of someone who can stick around over yourself, comes into play. There have been times where I have been turned down as they are looking for full-time staff up until December. Such a commitment is beyond nearly all college students, and can be a huge hindrance when applying for summer jobs.

Difficult, but not impossible

As you can see, for the first time prospective worker, the cards are ever so slightly stacked against you. And as a college student, it can be an even steeper up-hill climb. But to say it is simply impossible to become employed is wrong. Very wrong.

There is a great deal of chance involved in finding a job. The only remedy, the closest you can get to a guarantee, is non-stop action. Or, as best as you can do. I was once told by a friend, “sending a letter in a bottle down the Liffey once a month will get you nowhere”. A constant stream of CV’s through letter boxes, countless emailed responses to ads online, and attending as many interviews as possible is the single best way of find a job in this present climate. Anecdotal evidence – and personal experience – illustrates the importance of effort.

Time it right

Timing is big part of this reasoning. No retail experience? That shop on Grafton Street just opened up a new menswear department, and is hiring the first few people to hand in CV’s. No experience in a pub? The local bar is taking on a couple of lounge-staff on for the span of the European Championships, to account for crowds.

Timing is important in becoming employed, and repeated efforts are key in taking advantage of this fact. This method is what every single one of the students I know with a summer job used. If it is all a matter of luck, then surely multiple tries is the solution? And once you have, through sheer chance, found yourself on the payroll of a McDonald’s, then you now have experience in retail, and in a kitchen.
And the next time you are job-hunting, it is now a little easier. And the next time. And the next time after that. Finding a summer job is not impossible. The thousands of students with summer jobs will attest to this. It’s very difficult at the beginning, you just have to persevere, and be smart about your efforts.