Resources / Transition to College

6 Summer Activities to Boost Your Career

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1. Internship

Many types of work experience you have over the summer — whether a paid or unpaid internship in your field of interest, a job in an unrelated field, or community service/volunteer work — may be a positive addition to your resume. These experiences may also enhance your skill set, broaden your social and networking circle, and help you develop a good work ethic.

There are many ways to go about finding an internship in your field or career of interest. One place to start is by looking on websites and mobile apps, such as Handshake, Indeed, Glassdoor,  the Muse and LinkedIn. These resources allow you to search specific parameters for the type of internship or job you are looking for, such as by industry, location and position.

Another way to find an internship is by attending in-person and online career fairs, seeking the help of your college’s career services or college advisor, signing up for email lists for specific companies, reaching out directly to employers that you are interested in working for, and networking. Ask everyone and anyone you know, including your friends, classmates, professors, current and former employers and co-workers. Also consider asking your parents and family members and their friends, employers and co-workers if they are hiring a summer intern or know of anyone who is. For more information about networking, see the section below devoted exclusively to this topic.

2. Summer Job

Even a job unrelated to your field or career of interest, such as a camp counselor, restaurant server, sales associate, lifeguard, or babysitter, can foster important skills, such as responsibility, leadership, problem-solving, communication, creativity, flexibility, patience, and organizational and time management skills. You can even try to find an on-campus job, whether it is in the student center, library, dining hall, or fitness center. After a stressful year of classes and school, having a less stressful summer job might be a good way to balance out your year – while making some extra money and learning some important skills that many employers are looking for in prospective employees.

3. Volunteer Work

Another way to get work experience is to do community service or volunteer work, such as helping out at a local hospital, food bank, non-profit or other charitable organization, or working for a cause that you are passionate about. Doing community service or volunteer work is a great way to help others in need and at the same time build your resume and learn important and transferable skills, such as the ability to work on a team, problem solve and prioritize, and build compassion and interpersonal skills.


4. Learn a New Skill

The summer is a great time to learn or develop new skills, such as a foreign language, a musical instrument, a new coding language, or a web design tool. You are likely to have more free time to devote to learning without a full course load to think about. The summer might also be a good time to take an online or in-person course that your college does not offer, or that builds on an existing skill, fills in any gaps, or is outside your field or industry of interest. Employers are likely to be impressed when they see – under the skills section of your resume – that you have skills that align with the position they are looking to fill. They also may look favorably on multi-dimensional candidates who also have interests and talents outside of the classroom. The internet has a variety of online courses, training modules, videos, articles, and apps that can teach you valuable skills to add to your resume.

5. Keep up With The News

It is important to stay up-to-date on local, regional, national and world news  – especially as it relates to your career or field of interest. This will help you stay current on the direction in which your field is moving and where the jobs are and are not. It may also ensure that you are prepared for interview questions that seek your knowledge of or opinion on the current state of affairs or particular issues relating to your industry.

There are several easy ways to keep up with current events and news. One way is to have the news on in the background when you are doing other things around house, such as getting ready in the morning. Another way is to download an app from one of the major news organizations, sign up for their email alerts, or subscribe to any of the major news sources’ online newspapers. Many colleges offer students free online newspaper subscriptions; check with your school to see if you are eligible. Some major news organizations offer student discounts as well.  You can also follow the news on Twitter or set your computer homepage to a news source.

6. Network

Networking may be one of the most important things you can do during the year and over the summer to boost your career prospects and create internship and job opportunities. Networking can help you widen your circle of acquaintances, find out about job opportunities and trends in your field of interest, and ultimately get noticed by or introduced to prospective employers.

Making connections with employers over the summer is how your name will be remembered throughout the application and interview processes. Try to start by contacting alumni from your school and people you have commonalities with, whether they had your same major or were in similar clubs as you. One efficient way to do this is through LinkedIn, where you can filter your search to find alumni in the career field you are interested in or who work for companies that may have caught your eye. You can also try asking friends, classmates, professors, former employers, co-workers, parents and family members if they can connect you with someone in the field you are interested in.

It is up to you to decide how you will allocate your time over the summer. Keeping your future career goals in mind -- and the skills and experiences you want to add to your resume -- will help you get the most out of your summer break.

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