How Does COVID-19 Affect Summer Jobs for Students?

The number of students with summer (as well as year-round) jobs has been on the decline for the past two decades.

According to Statista, only 19.2% of U.S. teens had a job in 2019, as opposed to the 31% in 1998. And a similar trend can be seen among college students as well. In 2018, 43% of full-time college students were employed (compared to 53% in 2000). As for those studying part-time, employment rates dropped from 85% to 81% over the same period.

But, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic completely disrupted the employment rates for young people globally. Not only did millions of people lose their jobs due to the virus, but a lot of them are still recovering from the economic consequences of the Coronavirus. From March until December, the unemployment rate among recent graduates in the U.S. rose from a steady 3.9% to 7.2%.

And the thing is, this has severe implications for young people whose plan of entering the job market involves getting a summer job.

Why Summer Jobs Matter

From a teenager’s perspective, getting a summer job equates to freedom. But while earning some extra money does matter, it’s not the only thing students can expect to get when working over the summer holidays.

For one, getting a summer job makes for excellent practice for future interviews. It can also be a valuable addition to a CV, particularly when it comes to college applications or future employment in high-competition business fields.

Moreover, working full-time or part-time as a student provides a great opportunity to:

  • gain industry-specific experiences
  • start working on soft skills such as work ethic and communication
  • unlock future career possibilities

With all this in mind, it’s clear that summer jobs hold a lot of promise – regardless of whether a person chooses to work as a lifeguard, barista, tutor, or goes after a summer internship.

How COVID-19 Affects Summer Jobs

The problem for students in 2021 is that the job market isn’t as full of work opportunities as it would have been a couple of years ago.

First and foremost, a lot of places still have restrictions in place. And even though many of those are easing, it is still a bit too optimistic to believe that restaurants, bars, water parks, summer camps, gyms, malls, hotels, or cruise ships are going to be back to business as regular.

Secondly, a lot of the companies that would otherwise have hired summer interns still continue to work remotely. This means that, even if there are open positions, they’re likely to be rare and WFH-based (which doesn’t exactly have the same appeal as going to a real office and learning directly from business leaders).

Finally, it’s important to note that working from an office (or any other type of shared space) is likely to come with a few extra challenges this year. Employers now have to pay special attention to keeping young workers safe. At the same time, employees have to be prepared to take extra precautions and learn safety protocols. On top of all this, it’s important that young workers adopt an agile approach to business, seeing how circumstances can change quickly and without much warning.

Tips for Students Entering the Job Market This Summer

If you’re a high school or college student hoping to land a job this summer, here’s everything you can do to prepare for entering the job market:

  • Start looking as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, you can expect fewer summer jobs available this year. So, if your financial situation requires you to make an income, or you really want to land a particular job, don’t leave the application process until the last minute. Moreover, make sure that your CV is ready and polished for the moment applications do start. That way, you won’t let anything slide while scrambling to meet a looming deadline.

  • Be prepared to work from home.

If you land a summer internship with a larger company, you’ll most likely have to work from your own home. And that means that you have to have all the necessary equipment, a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and a healthy approach to work hours. Yes, rolling out of bed and sitting at your desk while still in your pajamas may sound appealing. But, it’s also a fast lane to burnout and mental health issues as it erases any chances of you developing a good work-life balance.

  • If you don’t get a job, don’t despair.

It’s possible that there won’t be enough positions for students this summer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t acquire valuable skills. Even if you don’t land a job, you can still invest in your career. For example, you can take a series of courses on platforms like Skillshare or Udemy. Or, you can create a profile on Upwork or Fiverr and start accepting freelancing gigs. Sure, you may not be an expert graphic designer or experienced copywriter. But even with a limited set of skills, you can still get jobs and earn some cash.

Final Thoughts

As you can imagine, getting a summer job in 2021 won’t be a piece of cake for students. Fortunately enough, working for someone else isn’t the only way to gain work experience and earn money.

So, if you’re determined to jumpstart your career this year, rest assured that there’s a lot you can do, even without a boss to give you orders and teach you the ropes. All you need is a bit of persistence and an open-minded point of view.