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April is typically the time students start looking for summer jobs. I remember working concessions at youth baseball games, guiding younger kids at summer camp, and friends teaching swim lessons at the local pool.

So how can you build summer job skills while sheltering at home? And what skills do employers want in employees?Young female working at home.

  1. Employers want to see strong communicators. This means listening and following directions (you’d be shocked how many people lack these basic skills), speaking respectfully, and sharing your thoughts clearly. When you’re on Zoom class meetings, give some thought to putting your best self forward. Participate fully by sitting up straight and giving eye contact (put your phone in another room to avoid the distraction). No dressing up required, but try to not look disheveled. Think about how you can be clear and concise when you speak in class meetings.
  1. This is a great opportunity to show your leadership skills by taking over a few responsibilities. Self-reflect about your time at home. Are you getting your schoolwork done, or does a parent have to nag you? Are you volunteering to make a meal for your family a few times a week? Many parents are trying to accomplish their full-time jobs while caring for you and siblings. Help them out by stepping up to take over some of their typical responsibilities. Don’t know how to do laundry or how to cook? Ask. This leadership initiative is going to set you apart in a summer job.
  1. Are you finding that class is harder when you’re not in the room with the teacher? Most people are feeling the same as you. But instead of waiting for your teacher to find a better way to help you all (teachers are trying to figure this out too), why don’t you test out a method that works? Is it getting a study group together at a certain time (via video call)? Is there a Khan Academy video out there that explains the concept really well? Share it! Solve problems and find ways to respectfully share with others. We’re all figuring this out together!
  1. Social distancing is one of the most important actions you can take right now. But you’re probably seeing peers still getting together and posting it on social media. Unfortunately, they have chosen to not be a part of the “team.” We all need to work together by staying home. So put on your prom dress and play a few songs while you dance with your dog. Go on a virtual campus tour. Choosing teamwork (by staying home) instead of seeing your friends is tough, but this is the exact selfless behavior that employers want!

Instead of seeing COVID-19 as time wasted, look at this as an opportunity to build job skills. And then apply for a summer job! Look (online) for opportunities in your local community, or consider working in a Nebraska state park.