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@State - the SDSU Student Newsletter

Surprising Benefits of Holiday Jobs

poinsettiasThe signs have been popping up in storefront windows (and their online equivalent) for months. Employers are hiring for the holidays to beef up their workforce for the season when shopping intensifies, traveling peaks and a few extra paychecks could come in very handy. 

But who really wants to spend their holidays on the job, and a new one at that? Here are a few good, even surprising, reasons why it may actually be a great choice for college students this holiday season.

1. Perks!

A steady paycheck is an obvious benefit to employment during any time of year, but the holidays—when gift giving, parties and elaborate meals can quickly empty anyone’s wallet—call for extra reinforcements. Many employers, especially the retail establishments in dire need of extra holiday hands, offer employee discounts that can add up to big savings when shopping for yourself and everyone on your “nice” list. Target, which is currently hiring seasonal employees through Aztec Career Connection, also offers incentives such as a 20 percent discount on employees’ cell phone bills and reduced rates on tickets to Charger games, Sea World and Legoland.

2. Flexible Hours

You can pretty much guarantee that you’ll clock hours on Black Friday and Christmas Eve, but holiday work schedules might not be as cut and dry as you think. Many employers are looking to fill overnight positions, which can work well for night owls and students with (limited) daytime availability. Also, organizations that recruit student employees through San Diego State University’s Career Services department are encouraged to accommodate students’ class schedules as much as possible and cap the workweek at 15-20 hours. In fact, through it’s designation as a Job Location and Development campus, SDSU is committed to providing paid off-campus jobs a student could reasonably complete while taking classes.

3. Test out the waters

Typical seasonal positions will end just after the New Year, meaning holiday workers get in a few months of experience before the pre-set expiration date arrives. It’s not enough time to become an expert in the field, but it is long enough to test out the position and industry to see if it’s a good fit for future opportunities.

“Working during college is all about trial and error, but haphazardly bouncing around from job to job can burn bridges if students aren’t careful,” said Patricia Nieves, SDSU Career Services resource specialist. “Taking a position for just a few months during the holidays allows students to explore without making a long term commitment.”

4. Long term opportunities

Of course, for students who find they really like their seasonal job, January 1 may come all too soon. Students who have had their eye on a career in a certain organization shouldn’t be deterred from pursuing an opportunity just because of the short-term job description. In fact, a seasonal stint may be all it takes to get a foot in the door for a more permanent role.

5. Not just retail

It’s no surprise that stores such as Kohl’s, Crate and Barrel and Target are regulars when it comes to recruiting SDSU students for seasonal positions. Still, San Diego being the major holiday destination that it is, there are a host of other businesses that also ramp up hiring during the holidays. Resorts, event venues and conference centers may be a better match for students looking outside the retail box this holiday season.

6. Interview Practice

It’s one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of job-hunting, but practice and experience can go a long way in taking an interview from awkward to polished. If nothing else, applying for a seasonal position gives students face time with a potential employer and practice going through the interview process. Already have an interview scheduled? SDSU Career Services is holding a workshop November 14 designed to help you improve your skills before the big day.

7. Resume Builder

Graduating from college without solid work experience could be a major hurdle to overcome in a highly competitive job market. Adding a short-term seasonal position to your resume is a great way to show potential employers that, in addition to excelling in the classroom, you gained valuable on-the-job knowledge. Of course, work experience isn’t the only section of your resume that will improve thanks to your holiday position.

“Students with seasonal jobs have a valuable opportunity to add to their list of professional references,” Nieves said. “Having a group of people who can attest to a student’s work ethic can make all the difference when they’re making the transition into a career.”