Let’s imagine that you are a college student and are trying to figure out what to do with your summer. Your parents are pushing you to do an internship while the head of your academic department is urging you to take classes. However, you’ve heard some friends chatting about their plans to work at a summer camp, and your interest in peaked.
But isn’t working at a camp just a “waste” of the summer when you could be taking classes or gaining experience for a future job?
What so many people fail to recognize is that employers are looking for so much more than just job experience on a resume. To make yourself stand out, you need that extra pazazz, and working as a camp counselor can give you that extra spice to make sure you really stand out.
Employers LOVE hiring camp counselors, and it’s no surprise why. The skills gained during a summer at camp are not just “camp skills;” they are life skills.
Here is what one Director at a multi-million-dollar company had to say:
“In my current role, I work closely with Human Resources. Just last week, we were talking about recruiting and the key skills (initiative, problem-solving, ability to anticipate challenges, communication) needed to be successful in any position at the organization. We were debating the best questions to ask in interviews to try to determine and measure these skills. We talked about what type of exercises or simulations might give us a sense of whether candidates had these qualities. We acknowledged that these critical skills are difficult to measure and look for in an interview or on a resume. My solution – hire former camp counselors!”
What a powerful statement!
I talked to several industry professionals, and each shared what he or she values in hiring camp counselors as employees. These professionals ranged in jobs from lawyers to non-profit executives to human resource managers to entrepreneurs and even medical professionals. No matter the job type, camp counselors have skills that are desired when starting a new job, and many employers highly value the camp counselor experience.
Collaboration and teamwork: The life of a camp counselor is filed with opportunities to practice collaboration and teamwork, especially when living with campers in a cabin, working with other staff, and teaching activities to young people. As one executive said, “If you can help resolve the petty grievances of 12-year-olds bickering over bunks and chores, you can quickly contribute to problem solving on any work team.”
Working in unpredictable circumstances: Working with children provides opportunities to experience unpredictable circumstances, which makes camp counselors even more prepared for the work environment. One entrepreneur said, “The candidates who have camp experience know how to get things done in less than ideal circumstances and to make the best of whatever changes they face. They are quick to devise another way forward rather than becoming paralyzed when things don’t go their way.”
Positive attitude: Working long days is part of a camp counselor’s daily routine and having the stamina to keep a positive attitude despite the circumstances is a valuable skill to bring to a work environment. One female entrepreneur said, “Attitudes are contagious, and I want to hire people who bring the JOY every day.”
Resilience: Every camp counselor knows that things won’t always go as planned, and part of perfecting your skills as a camp counselor involves rolling with the punches. One lawyer said, “I am looking for employees who have the ability to bounce back when things change or don’t go as planned, and camp counselors already have these skills.”
Perspective and a wide-lens approach: Camp counselors are problem solvers through and through. There’s not a day that goes by that a counselor doesn’t need an open perspective to figure out a solution to a problem. A non-profit Director said, “The importance of seeing a problem from all angles and approaching it in a positive way is a huge asset of a camp counselor.”
And here are a few other skills that camp counselors already have that were mentioned multiple times by these employers:
Still not convinced? Here is what one lawyer had to say about interviewing candidates for her law firm:
“Law school teaches you very little about actually practicing law and the nuances of interacting with clients, judges, and other lawyers. When a resume crossed my desk, I looked at grades and law school activities, but if I saw camp counselor listed on the resume, I always voted to interview the candidate. I always found that these law students had the work ethic, initiative, communication, and personal skills to be a successful summer clerk and new associate.”
So…now that you’ve read what leading professionals in their fields have to say about what they value in a camp counselor resume, the question we want to know is: