This semester is quickly coming to a close and with it, the school year. It is a time full of stress and anxiety. Studying for finals and wrapping up course work can be exhausting. The time it takes for the final grades to be posted can feel like it lasts a lifetime. As classes wrap up many students will be heading off to their new careers and a few others will be transferring to other colleges. Yet, there are a great many students who will be using this summer to sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm weather while hanging out with friends. The summer will be a time to forget about the worries of college and adult life that are hiding in the distant future. For those of you who are returning next fall, this summer is seen a break before the madness resumes in August.
However, the reality is that the world does not stop during the summer months. If you relax for too long during the summer, then the world will surely pass you by. There is time for ice cream, friends, the lake, and a visit to the state fair, but there is also time to get the most of our college education. The summer is the time for you to do things that you don’t have time for during the school year. It is a time to prepare, plan, and take advantage of opportunities that will make life easier for when graduation rolls around. The reality is that a diploma cannot land you a career by itself. So, why not take a few minutes and continue reading to discover the top 5 things you can do to get the most out of your summer break. It may just make the difference between having a career at graduation or being unemployed.
1. Start Networking – The summer is a great time to spend with friends, but why not look to expand your social network into something more career-related? The summer is a great time to go do informational interviews, or start talking with professionals in the field. You can also use your spare time in the summer to build up your LinkedIn and start networking through there as well. You could attend a conference that is put on through a professional organization in your future career field. The possibilities for networking are endless and the summer presents a great opportunity to meet people who might be your co-workers or your hiring boss someday. Get out there and meet people!
2. Get work experience – There are two main aspects to getting a job these days. The first, for many, is to have a college education. The number of jobs that require a degree is rising and it is not going to ease up any time soon. The second part of getting a job is often overlooked by the university and by students; experience. The summer is a great time to go out there and find a job that relates to your potential career field. If you want to be an accountant, why not try to work part-time for an accounting firm? If you want to be a teacher, then why not start tutoring? By working during your summer you will show potential employers that you are not afraid of hard work and will gain useful skills that you can bring with you to all your future places of employment. Also, you can make great contacts through having a job and it will help build your network even further.
3. Take a summer class – Summer school always carries a bad aura from high school. In high school, if you failed a class or did poorly then you would be forced to take school during summer and it was not a place anyone wanted to be. However, the world of college is vastly different. Summer school is no longer a punishment, but an opportunity! Summer school can be a great place to keep your mind sharp during the summer. It can also help speed up your graduation date and as they say, “time is money.” Every extra semester in school is a semester that you can’t be working. If you were working, then you could be adding several thousands of dollars in income to your life and afford to go out to eat instead of waiting for the microwave to serve you some ramen noodles. If you were still deciding on a major, then taking a summer course could be a great way to find out if other classes and fields would be of interest. Plus, summer courses are often only for part of the summer and will still leave you plenty of time for having fun.
4. Participate in an internship – Internships are one of the greatest experiences that a student can have on their resume, if not the greatest. It provides valuable experience that is field-specific. Employers are looking for students with experience that require less training and having an internships shows that you have that experience. Internships also show an interest in the field and provide great networking opportunities. There is no better time to do an internship than in the summer when the demands of school and homework have drifted away. Having an internship will change your life and set you up for success after school. An internship isn’t needed every summer, but every student should take advantage of this life-changing opportunity at least once.
5. Volunteer – Volunteering is something that usually does not require a huge time commitment and is often the final piece of filling out the resume. You can volunteer a few times a month and learn skills that will make you an attractive candidate for employment. This is also another great way to expand your network, not to mention that volunteer work can be rewarding all on its own. Helping your fellow human beings can give you a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that is hard to get anywhere else. If you do nothing else, spend some time volunteering for a cause that interests you over the summer. You will not regret it.
Hopefully, this list will get you thinking about how you spend your summer months. Building a lifelong career is hard work and there is no off season. You can use the summer to build upon the work that you do all year-long in college. You cannot afford to neglect your future for 3 months. There is plenty of time to have fun during the summer AND take part in activities that build your resume and improve your life. This top 5 list is just a few ideas, but being active in the world around you is always beneficial. You can make your summer what you want, but please remember to not let it pass you by. You will never have another time in your life where you have 3 months to do what you want, so don’t waste it!
– Joshua Foss, CDC Graduate Assistant