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As the summer approaches and the school year comes to an end, students start their yearly search for a summer job. While some may have part-time or internship positions lined up with past employers, most students have to take what they can get, working in a field that isn't theirs.

While waiting tables, working on an assembly line, and helping customers in a shopping mall may not have immediate appeal, there are many skills young people can take from their summer jobs to apply to their studies and careers.

Cherie Anderson, international tour director and trainer with Professional Tour Management Training, hires hundreds of students each summer to fill a variety of positions: tour directors, hotel staff, luggage handlers, and hospitality staff, among others.

It's a great way to get experiences in our industry, she says, and it can also be helpful for those not interested in leading tours. For three months, students do anything and everything in the hospitality industry. While an English major may not love the idea of spending summer vacation working the front desk at a hotel, they'll be taking away valuable interpersonal and teamwork skills—skills that will come in handy for group projects or collaboration at work.

The company hires all ages but most are college students since they have the summers off, says Anderson. Students are given the same responsibilities as a full-time employee, thus these temporary tour guides have to perform. Outside of their specific tasks, young people quickly learn task management and develop a work ethic. Although the seasonal paycheque may have driven them to apply, summer employees are taking much more away from their experiences.

Andrew Thorne, an engineering student at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, worked as a general production worker with Scotsburn Ice Cream last summer. He says he wanted to do anything that he could get because it was his first job. I worked 40 hours a week from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. It was very hard work and I learned I definitely don't want to do that kind of work for the rest of my life.

And he's not alone. Thousands of students take on jobs that have nothing to do with their current goals or future aspirations, but it doesn't mean nothing is taken away from their employment. Thorne says that sorting and packing ice cream at his job on the assembly line was a good learning experience.

I learned what it was like working in a factory environment and had to think on my feet and learn a lot very quickly. He also mentions that the soft skills, like teamwork and communication, will be useful in his engineering co-op terms in the coming years.

Although students apply for summer jobs to fill the financial void from May to September, if they choose to recognize them, the skills they develop can help them for the future.

Photo: pablo_rodriguez1/Thinkstock