As a college student, summer break can be similar to when you were in high school. While you look forward to the break and enjoy your time off, you may notice that at the end of it that you could have done more to get ready for fall classes.
You should take a different approach to college because you’re getting ready to start a career. To get hired in a competitive job market, you need to stand out in comparison to the other candidates and your summer activities can help make a difference.
So while you relax, also find a way to get more experience in your chosen profession to learn more about the industry.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of summer break:
Get professional experience
If you’re looking to become a licensed professional, such as a nurse, you can get a head start by earning more healthcare experience. You might find a part-time job that allows you to interact with patients or volunteer at a clinic. Those might be positions that you could continue into the school year.
Internships are important for both students and businesses, especially for business-focused careers such as marketing, accounting and IT. Even if it seems too late to get an “official” internship over the summer, you could work with a small firm or business a few hours a week to help them out on various tasks.
You might prefer to make some money working in retail, at a restaurant or an entertainment venue, but see if there is a way for you to also get some experience in your career/industry of choice.
Network online and in-person
Networking is an important activity for all professionals. It may not connect you with a job offer right away but networking could lead to one eventually. The goal of networking is to build business connections with other people, working professionals and find ways to benefit each other. Some of the benefits of networking include:
- Learning more about the industry
- Finding out about the company
- Reviewing skills for different positions
- Learning what employers want from job seekers
Before you start networking, make sure to build up your LinkedIn profile. You can connect with people you already know, such as friends and family and, eventually you can add people you meet in the industry. Look for in-person and virtual networking events in your community and among industry groups.
Work on your knowledge and skills
Staying sharp isn’t just important for athletes working out in-between seasons. Students need to maintain a high level of performance and have an edge when they look for a job.
For example, you could:
- Take a course: This doesn’t mean you need to do a full course load, but just taking one class in your field or something that is an enjoyable elective credit can keep you in “school mode” without fully committing most of your time.
- Read and research: Whether it’s a research report, podcast or video series, you can catch up on the latest in your industry in your free time. This activity will not only fuel your knowledge and passion for your job, but it can also provide some points of conversation when you are on your internship or when you go back to full-time school.
- Focus on soft skills: Trying to get better at organizing your day/semester? Looking to become a better listener? Turn your summer into a time to build some of your soft skills, which are vitally important in the workplace.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the fast pace of life that we don’t leave time for ourselves. If you find yourself on that treadmill during the school year, use the summer to take care of yourself and relax while also figuring out how you can better incorporate those practices all year.
Whether you start an exercise program, take a fitness class, fit more enjoyable reading into your day or find a new hobby, it’s important to get your mind off school, work and other pressing duties.
If you look at summer as a time of self-growth and not just pure relaxation or a continuation of the fast-paced school year, you might find that you’ll welcome the start of full-time classes in the fall and enjoy the ride all the way through until graduation.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.