#BTColumn – Is there any advice for first time summer job?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.

by Carol-Ann Jordan and Jacqueline Belgrave

Question: I will be starting my first job this summer. It is a temporary job but is there anything special that I should know to be better prepared?

Congratulations on starting this new chapter! No doubt, having completed your academic training, whether at secondary school or at a tertiary institution, you can be sure that you have the knowledge to perform the tasks you will be assigned.

You can also be sure that someone will take responsibility for assisting you to settle in and to guide you as you become familiar with your tasks. The first thing that you have to bear in mind is that by accepting employment with the employer, you have entered into an employment contract. You are in effect giving your word that you will honor (abide by) the terms and conditions outlined in the offer – even if the offer is for a short period of time and not on a full-time basis.

Employers are increasingly giving importance to an applicant’s personal attributes and assess the extent to which they have developed what are referred to as “soft skills”.

These skills are, for example, an individuals’ ability to receive criticism and to give feedback, the ability to work collaboratively, and the ability to effectively manage time, which are not formally acquired in school or at work.

They are usually developed through your interactions with others. It is through these interactions that you develop your own way of handling a wide range of situations.

Be aware then that your “soft skills” are just as important as your academic credentials. Your personal attributes demonstrate who you are as an individual and possessing certain attributes can make the difference between temporary and permanent opportunities. These skills can give you the competitive advantage over others who may be seeking the same opportunities that you are.

Below are some of the soft skills that an employer would be looking for and assessing:

1.Communications:

You want to be able to demonstrate that you can effectively express your thoughts feelings and ideas. Being able to explain yourself clearly is particularly important in the working world as you interact with colleagues and customers alike. As you communicate and interact with others, focus on explaining yourself clearly and make sure that those with whom you are speaking understand what you mean to say.

2.Adaptability:

Being able to adapt to changing situations is another valuable skill. The environment within which business is being conducted today is rapidly and constantly changing. As the organization adapts to the changing environment, it may have to change some of its processes and procedures and, as an employee, you will have to be able to adapt as well without compromising the quality of the service you provide.

3. Organization:

Organization refers to your ability to plan and effectively implement projects or execute general work tasks. You had the opportunity to develop this skill as you managed your many assignments during your studies.

While you may not have appreciated it at the time, in the midst of the stress and frustration you felt, you also learned more about yourself and what you needed in order to deliver according to set timelines/deadlines.

You learned to develop your own systems to ensure success. In a workplace setting, lack of organization at a personal level can impact the success of the entire department and can contribute to wastage of resources, including time and money.

4.Teamwork:

Even though you will most likely be assigned your own tasks, you will be operating as part of a team. Your ability to fit into the team, to cooperate and collaborate with others despite any personal conflicts and your ability to acknowledge, respect and utilize your own strengths and weaknesses (and those of others), is crucial to your own success.

5.Punctuality:

In today’s world, being punctual is included in the category of a skill. Being punctual refers to honoring the agreed or proper time and, within the context of a soft skill, being punctual demonstrates your respect for the time of others. It is a sign of who you are and the standards you set for yourself – even if, all around you, others are doing otherwise. The 8 am start time means that it starts at 8 am – not “Bajan time”. A deadline of Wednesday at 4 pm means submission by that time not on Thursday at 9 am because…. “Well… work ends at 4 anyway”.

6.Critical Thinking:

The ability to use imagination, reasoning, past experience, research, and available resources to understand and then resolve issues is invaluable in a working environment.

7. Social Skills:

The more people with whom you come into contact on a daily basis, the more important your social skills will be to your success. We are speaking here, not about whether you are an introverted or extroverted personality type, but about your ability to handle yourself in all situations when dealing with other people, regardless of stature (position) and whether you can deal with a wide variety of personalities .

8. Empathy:

Empathy involves the ability to emotionally understand what another person is experiencing by putting yourself in their position and feeling what they must be feeling. This is an essential skill when working with others or when providing service to external customers.

9. Strong Work Ethics:

Employers look for employees who take initiative, are reliable, and can do the job right the first time. This is tied to the expectation that employees will take ownership of their work responsibilities, and will assess situations, seek different perspectives and additional information, as needed, to assist in solving problems which may arise as they perform their assigned tasks.

10. Emotional Intelligence:

Although you may never see this in a job description or in an advertisement, emotional intelligence (EI) is a highly sought-after skill that can hold the key to your personal and professional success.

Emotional Intelligence refers to your ability to be aware of, control, and express your emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships thoughtfully and empathetically (with empathy). It requires you to be mindful of your own emotions and the emotions of those with whom you interact.

We hope this helps you to be better prepared. Give it your best!

About Lifeline Labor Solutions: Lifeline Labor Solutions is a boutique partnership providing people management solutions to workplace challenges Partners Carol-Ann Jordan and Jacqueline Belgrave are established practitioners with a wealth of knowledge and experience in Employment Relations, Labor Relations and Human Resource Management between them. E-mail: [email protected] lifelinelabour.com;
Phone: 1(246)247-5213

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