Build Entrepreneurial Skills at Your Summer Job

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You might have big entrepreneurial dreams, but we all have to pay the bills. If you’re out of school for the summer, you might be lucky enough to earn some money as a paid intern, or by apprenticing a business leader you admire. Or, you’re delivering pizzas. No job is too small or too pedestrian to learn from. Whatever you find yourself doing this summer, grab any opportunity to build entrepreneurial skills. Here are a few ideas for what shape that might take.

 

Choose Gigs Rather Than Jobs

A reliable paycheck is great, but if you only need work during the summer, there’s no need to commit yourself to a traditional, W2 job. The gig economy has never looked better, with opportunity everywhere. After all, when you run your own startup, you’ll be hustling all the time. This is a great time to practice. Whether you seek out freelance graphic design gigs or drive a Lyft, you’ll be your own boss. Get used to self-managing, tracking your time, and setting aside money to pay taxes.

 

Bug the Heck Out of Boss

It doesn’t matter if you sell jeans at the mall, sling lattes, or mop floors. Somebody runs that business. That’s the person you want to get to know. Ask them about how they got where they are. Ask what challenges they face and what brings them success. Far from being put out by your persistence, they may feel flattered. A positive relationship with the boss shows that you’re engaged with the company, too. It might just lead to a promotion or job for after graduation.

 

Leverage Your Downtime

If you work part-time, it can feel like you’re swimming in downtime after a tough semester of classes and activities. Use that time well. Read books or attend webinars on the industry where you plan to eventually work. Do some networking and freshen up your online presence. Or, if you’re already working on an entrepreneurial project, accomplish as much as you can. Whether you’re still in the brainstorming stage or fleshing out your business plan, summer is a great time. Some jobs might even allow room for self-improvement on the clock. Could you listen to audiobooks while you work, for example?

 

Keep Track of Your Accomplishments

As a motivated future business owner, you probably put your all into any task. That means, you can find purpose even in doing what others might consider task. If you figure out a way to make any small improvement at your place of work, record it. Let’s say you figure out a way to use less packing materials on shipping products. You save the company money and make less impact on the environment. Make note of what you achieved and how much it saved. Then, put these nuggets on your resume or use them as stories to show future business partners how savvy you are.

 

Treat All Jobs With Respect

Good leaders know that every person in an organization contributes. Someday, when you’re a CEO, remember that the people cleaning the restrooms, answering the phones, or driving the delivery truck all play a part in how people view your company. By working in entry-level jobs, you’ll learn the value of “grunt” work. You will evolve into a leader who respects people and recognizes that hard work is hard work, regardless of the uniform. And, just as important, never think less of yourself because you have to start at the bottom. Treat your role, even one you don’t like, with respect. Show up on time and do the job to the best of your ability.

 

However you spend your summer break, keep your eyes on the prize. Think about everything you do as a stepping stone toward realizing your dream. Build your entrepreneurial skills however and whenever you can.

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