When applying and interviewing for jobs, work experience plays a critical role. According to Forbes.com,  66% of employers believe interview performance and relevant work experience are the most important factors in their hiring decisions — far more significant than strong academic performance.
Employers want to know you can apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. So what can you do this summer to make sure you reinforce and highlight the skills that are most relevant to your desired career?
These skills are critical — and you’ll be using them all!
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has defined “Learning and Innovation Skills” — critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity — as requirements for job-seekers in the 21st century. As a camp counselor, you’ll be sharpening these skills all summer long. Here are just a few examples!
- Critical thinking: Assessing your campers' requests and skill levels when dividing them into teams. Reviewing equipment and weather conditions to accurately predict if it’s a safe day for your canoe trip. Testing several different morning hikes to see which is most enjoyable and gets campers to lunch on time.
- Communication: Meeting camper parents on the first day, anticipating their questions, and being ready to answer them. Explaining the rules of Gaga to your first-time campers. Clarifying any discrepancies in expectations for camper behavior. Listening to campers’ concerns.
- Collaboration: Working as a group to create a set of rules. Teaming up with your co-counselor to address a group problem. Compromising on healthy snacks that everyone enjoys while on the trail.
- Creativity: Finding alternative rainy-day activities that your group will enjoy. Writing and rehearsing a skit for the talent show. Planning ways to keep your activity sessions fun and fresh.
It’s important to remember these experiences as you revise your resume and speak with hiring managers. You might consider keeping a log of your skills during the summer as a reference for after the summer.
Take the initiative.
Developing the critical skills listed above will help you no matter what job you’re pursuing. But there can be many other opportunities at camp to hone skills that are specific to your future career. Going into journalism? Volunteer to work on or create the camp newsletter. Wanting to get into video production? Make a promo video for your camp starring your campers. Is teaching on your horizon? Keep notes of all your plans and outcomes for activities, skits, nature hikes, etc. Talk with your director or supervisor about opportunities to gain skills that interest you. They might have a great idea about a camp project for you to get involved in.
Your job as a camp counselor is not only fun, challenging, and fulfilling — it’s also a fast-paced crash course in real-world skills that will take you far. Remember to watch your progress and growth, and be proud of your accomplishments this summer!
Photo courtesy of River Way Ranch Camp, Sanger, California