Making the Most of your Summer Break

Students of all ages look forward to summer break.  Even if they take a summer class, it is different from the rest of the academic year.  The days have a laidback vibe, with summer clothes, water activities, grilling with friends, family vacations, trips to the beach, and leisure books only read during the summer.  Memories are made in the summer, and with intentional career planning activities, it can be a productive and enjoyable time.  Summer break can pass quickly, so here are some ways to use the time wisely.

Gain Work Experience: Work experience is a good stepping stone to a future career, whether it is directly career-related, or learning transferrable skills for the future.  All jobs teach that showing up for scheduled work, time management, following rules and policies, and representing a company positively, are valuable and transferrable into other jobs and career roles. Retail experience, for example, while possibly not a future career path, can teach teamwork, customer service, problem solving, conflict resolution, organization, communication, marketing, safety, logistics, and many other skills. Relevant work experience teaches skills needed for specific careers. The experience could be in a chosen industry, but in an entry-level or internship position, learning how the industry works, networking, and improving skills desired by companies.

Experience changes perspective and awareness as a customer and as an employee. The experiences that do not seem relevant now are the foundation to gaining and being successful in future jobs and careers.

Volunteer/Community Involvement: Small towns, cities of all sizes, even large metropolises’ have small communities surrounding them and have opportunities to be become involved in those communities through volunteering.  Non-profit organizations need volunteers to help them be successful.  Volunteering and giving back to local community organizations demonstrates caring and a desire to make the community a better place to live.  Many companies are philanthropically oriented and volunteering is an important characteristic they look for in the recruiting process.  Volunteering is also an excellent way to learn about careers and companies of interest, to network, and often times leads to job offers when positions become open.

Resumé Update: Summer is a good time to make updates to a resumé.  Review and add work experiences gained since the last update, new skills learned, new class/club projects, update format and spacing.  There is not a perfect resumé because it is always changing as the person evolves and depending on the need and use of the document.  However, keeping it current is the best way to be prepared and not forget important accomplishments.

TIP: Keep the resumé to one page, when possible, especially for students and entry-level candidates

Networking: Connect with alumni, students and professionals in the field and career roles of interest.  Social media, such as LinkedIn, is a good resource to connect with professionals, but also attend virtual, and in-person events with career-related organizations.

Social Media: Use social media to network and connect with alumni, students and professionals, to stay up on industry trends, updates and opportunities.  Remember that social media posts do not go away when they can no longer be seen. Update profiles and delete posts that give negative impressions.

Research: Research is an ongoing opportunity to find out about new trends in industries, companies doing new things, and emerging career trends and skills for success.

Scheduling activities related to these topics will keep students and alumni active, and thinking about their career progress all summer.  A little each week adds up by the end of the summer to new opportunities and connections for future career success. 

Sandi Ohman is an Assistant Director in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Daytona Beach, FL. She has been with the University and in Career Services for over 16 years, has advised students in many degree areas offered at ERAU, taught UNIV 101 classes to incoming students, and enjoys maintaining the many alumni relationships she has cultivated through the years. Sandi brings additional experience and perspective from her previous career in the finance industry. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida.