Some holiday gigs require treating naughty shoppers nice. Others demand that you bring joy to the world in the midst of melancholy weather.
If you're up for the challenge of fast-paced, unpredictable seasonal work with a good attitude and work ethic, you might set yourself up for a potentially permanent position.
The following popular brands may start you off as a volunteer or part-time employee, but if you perform above standard and prove to your boss you're reliable, your next step could mean career advancement:
How to advance in this job: Learn your team members and pick up their slack when opportunities open. UPS proudly shares on its site that many of its senior managers started as college-age package handlers. Find out who these folks are, and prove to them you're willing to get the job done in order to move up the corporate ladder after the holiday season ends.
Bell ringers: Simply register to ring for The Salvation Army during the holidays, and your volunteer efforts will help raise money for those in need via the international charitable organization's Red Kettle Campaign.
How to advance in this job: This cold-weather gig teaches patience, hones people skills and sharpens fundraising abilities. The cool part: You come across so many influential holiday shoppers who respect your effort as well, so if they have business cards on hand, take one. Once the holiday season campaign is complete, add this fundraising experience to your resume. Then research the organization's employment opportunities across the nation. Apply for a full-time job in line with your temporary experience (ex: a Red Kettle coordinator).
Retail cashiers: Have an evergreen eye for visually restocking a store for the holidays? Maybe you're great with numbers and swiftly ringing up customers. If so, join a brand like Target, which stays in the Christmas shopping fray and offers fun gigs such as visual merchandising and working as a beauty team member. Consistent seasonal warehouse work is also available to help move merchandise. How to advance in these jobs: After you've gotten your foot in the door with temporary work, look into the company's store and corporate careers that match your newly acquired skills but in long-term leadership roles.
Santa's helpers: If you have the ability to make people laugh, consider working for photography companies that need assistance with putting genuine smiles on faces. Companies like sweet treat producer Hershey's Chocolate World have openings for museum or mall-like photo ops with Santa.
How to advance in this job: After developing key on-the-job soft skills — becoming adaptable to fussy little ones, confident with posing people, enthusiastic about coming up with new ideas and flexible with scheduling — make plans to apply and upgrade your position to other areas that demand innovative thinking.
Gift wrappers: Neat, crafty and hot-with-the-hands job seekers should give Santa's workshop settings a holiday shot. Businesses like Macy's and Neiman Marcus encourage such talent to work as seasonal retail gift registry advisers and gift wrap associates. A creative gig that always alleviates customers' post-holiday shopping, professional gift wrapping tests your customer service and focus skills.
How to advance in these jobs: Prominent retail brands are constantly on the lookout for savvy retail employees, whether in beauty, personal shopping or sales, for permanent hire. Maintain a good rapport with management during the seasonal work, and inquire regularly about new opportunities that extend beyond the bustling holiday period.
Shelter servers: Bring a little holiday cheer to those lacking basic needs in your community. National nonprofits such as Feeding America offer opportunities to help end hunger on local to national levels through food banks and pantries. These volunteer experiences personally push you to relate and care for those in difficult situations and from diverse backgrounds; build strong networks with like-minded individuals; and ultimately are fulfilling because you're contributing to global initiatives. How to advance in this job: Cultivate professional connections, learn the logistics of community outreach and understand the personal stories beyond these movements during holiday efforts. Doing so will strengthen your portfolio and make you a standout candidate when organizations have leadership positions available at food banks and within corporate offices.
Delivery drivers: Capitalize on giving holiday shoppers and tourists a Lyft or Uber ride to places like the grocery store, post office and major festive events. Providing a safe, smooth riding experience to and from venues guarantees fast cash and establishes an instant clientele.
How to advance in this job: Maintaining a steady flow of fares during and after the holiday season could easily make this line of work a lasting labor of love. You will start transporting so many individuals from interesting traveling backgrounds. Who knows? That next airport fare just might become your career ticket to a full-time transportation or customer service position offering more pay.