Getting a Summer Job

Job experience in a technical field is an important part of your education and can help you decide where your interests lie. Your success in getting a summer job will be directly related to how you go about it.

Before you even go out the front door, you should have a resume (see the article on resumes). The actual preparation of a resume is covered in a separate chapter. Very briefly, you should include your work experience, your courses in school, your extracurricular activities and hobbies, and your career objectives. Armed with a resume you can start your job hunt.

Everyone you know is a potential source of employment. They may not be in a position to hire you but may know of someone who is, so tell everybody you know that you want a job. If people do not know your qualifications, experience, and goals in life, tell them! It is perfectly all right to say something like the following: "I am a junior in high school with a B+ average. I have received A's in chemistry and math, and I am taking calculus and advanced chemistry next year. When I start college, I am going to major in electrical engineering." Remember that if you do not tell people about yourself, no one else will do it for you.

The best place to start

The best place to start looking for the kind of summer job you want is in the organizations that employ people who are doing what you want to do. If you want to be a doctor, contact doctors' offices and medical labs; if you want to be an architect, contact the architectural firms in your city or town. Any experience or knowledge you can gain about the career you want to enter will be helpful to you.

The term "any experience" brings up the question: "What if they offer me a job as a secretary or clerk?" Unless you have a better job offer, take it, but make sure that everyone you work with knows that your goal in life is to be an engineer, not a secretary. Ask questions about the technical work of the organization, tell people that you want to learn about what the organization does, and volunteer to help with drafting, experiments, and all the other projects that the engineers and scientists are doing. Ask them about their work, ask from what universities they graduated, and what courses you should be taking in high school. People love to talk about themselves and their jobs, so they will be glad to answer your questions.

If you can't find a job

You may not be fortunate enough to find a paid summer job in the field that interests you. If this happens, do not give up and spend the summer in your back yard. Take courses, do volunteer work, spend time at the library; do whatever you can to gain experience in the working world or to improve your knowledge of scientific, engineering, and other nontraditional disciplines. Although you may not receive a paycheck, you will get experience and knowledge that may give you an edge in obtaining a job later.

Where do you go to find out about job openings?

The information given below is by no means all-inclusive. These addresses and phone numbers are just a start and do not include any small, private companies, so do not limit your job search just to these organizations.

Federal government employment information is available from
All NM counties except Dona Ana and Otero:  Dona Ana and Otero counties:
Federal Job Information Center 
421 Gold Ave. SW 
Albuquerque, NM 87102 
(505) 766-5583 
Federal Job Information Center 
Property Trust Building, Suite N302 
2211 E. Missouri Ave. 
E1 Paso, TX 79903 
(915) 543-7425

New Mexico Career Cluster Guidebook from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions can help you identify job opportunities in NM. Included on the NMNWSE Careers CD and online at http://www.dws.state.nm.us/careersolutions/.

State government employment information is available from

NM State Personnel Board
810 W. San Mateo Rd.
Santa Fe, NM 87505
(505) 827-8190

Private employment information is available from

NM Employment Security Department
P.O. Box 1938
Albuquerque, NM 87103
(505) 842-3105
(Ask for their listing in the Research and Statistics Section entitled, "Large Employers," in NM by County.)

Look in the yellow pages of your local phone directory under energy, scientists, doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, etc., for smaller employers.

When do you start looking for a summer job?

"Now" is the answer. Once again, tell everyone you know (teachers, parents, friends, and relatives) that you want a job and tell them what kind of job you want. Contact the places where you wish to work and find out when they start accepting applications for summer employment. The federal government, for example, starts their summer employment program in November to fill vacancies for the following summer. Be persistent and follow up on your employment leads.

Don't get discouraged

Almost no one gets a job at the first place they apply. Most people have held jobs that were not exactly what they wanted. However, they learned all they could and worked hard, and the experience they gained helped them later to get a job they really wanted.

Mary V. Bochmann
Federal Women's Program Manager
White Sands Missile Range, NM