Free time is money

Winter break marks the busiest retail period of the year, so for department stores and corporate chains seasonal positions are in demand. With increasing retail and service opportunities, Austin is the perfect place to make extra holiday cash.

Using on-campus services is an easy way to start searching. UT’s office of financial services maintains a seasonal job bank online through the Hire a Longhorn network. Prospective applicants can create an account and upload a resume for access to a full list of available positions. Hire a Longhorn offers part- and full-time positions throughout Austin, and the database specifies jobs’ responsibilities, starting wages and employee requirements.

Although career services centers don’t handle seasonal employment, they offer valuable assistance in creating resumes and cover letters. Students can visit their college’s career services center to learn how to make themselves more attractive to potential employers for both holiday work and long-term employment or internships.

“I’d been hunting for an over-the-holidays job for weeks and couldn’t find anything. I figured I needed to revamp my resume and rethink how I approach employers, so I went to the career services center. Go figure – Christmas tree farms didn’t care about my research experience,” said biomedical engineering sophomore Steven LaBelle.

When applying to larger chains, filling out online applications makes the process easier and more convenient. H-E-B, Macy’s, Target, Walmart and Costco all offer applications on their websites. You can specify that you’re seeking seasonal employment; as a result, once you're employed you can be retained for future seasons. Applications that do not result in employment are kept on file for up to six months.

“I have a seasonal job with Costco. I love it because it keeps me from getting bored over break, and by the end of the semester I can always use the extra money,” said business sophomore David Yu. “I started working there during the summer, and I go back during long breaks like this one. Summer is probably the best time to guarantee yourself a seasonal winter job with big retailers.”

Submitting your application in-person can also be a viable strategy because it allows for face-to-face interaction. It also shows a degree of motivation; you’re taking the initiative to meet the employer and pursue the job, which contrasts with simply filling out an online application form.

“I got hired at a Christmas tree farm. I went to the site and approached the manager to see if they had any openings, and I had the job. But I do think being willing and able to undertake manual labor also had a lot to do with it,” said biology freshman Saheer Patel.

Whether you’re staying in Austin or going home for the holidays, there’s bound to be a business looking for extra help. The important thing to remember is that these spots are limited, so pursue every avenue possible. After submitting an application, don’t be afraid to follow up with a phone call or a visit to the store; it shows how much you want the job and that you’re dedicated. These steps may seem insignificant, but they could be the difference between making good money or sitting on your couch watching "A Christmas Story” on repeat.