A young woman sitting on the grass reading a bookAh, summer. Whether you are taking more classes, working or enjoying a well-deserved break, you might have some downtime to fill over the next three months. Here are some things you can do this summer to make progress on your career goals.

Upgrade your skills

Learning new things and expanding on skills can give you an edge over other candidates. While many of the skills you’ll need are built into your courses, there are also ways to develop skills outside the classroom.

CU students have free access to LinkedIn Learning. There are hundreds of courses for both technical skills (HTML, data analytics, project management) and non-technical skills (communication, teamwork, problem solving, leadership).

If you want to upgrade your skills but aren’t sure where to start, browse job postings for positions that interest you. Take note of the skills or qualifications that employers are looking for, and check if there are courses on developing those skills. You can also start with courses that build on transferable skills. These non-technical skills are often the most in-demand and apply to any job industry.

Sharpen your professional toolkit

Use your summer to work on application materials and practices that will help you stand out.

You can also use our free online tools. Upload your resume to VMock to get instant feedback on your resume, or use the VMock Aspire tool to optimize your LinkedIn profile. Use InterviewStream to practice answering interview questions and build your confidence.

Connect with others

Think about the connections you may already have. Do you have friends who are recent graduates? People you’ve volunteered with? Former co-workers or campus organization members? Stay connected with them on LinkedIn to maintain your professional relationship. To make new connections, you can start with the large network of CU Boulder alumni on the Forever Buffs Network

Touch base with your connections regularly. It can be a casual email to check in and ask how they’re doing. Or follow up on something you had previously discussed. Share interesting articles, newsletters or books that might be of interest to those in your network. You can also “like” and comment on their recent LinkedIn posts.

Volunteer

One of the best ways to learn about yourself, develop skills and give back to others is through volunteering. Volunteer roles can vary—you may find yourself working with animals, writing grants or collecting data for organizations. Whatever you do, you’ll gain experience that can add depth to your resume and profile. Your volunteer experience may also give you great stories to share during interviews to demonstrate your strengths and skills.

There are plenty of opportunities to match your interests and fit your schedule. Connect with the Volunteer Resource Center (VRC) to learn more about finding service opportunities.

Pursue a passion project

Take an innovation mindset to your summer and pursue something you’re passionate about. Maybe you have an idea for a product that could improve our lives. Or perhaps you’ve been considering opening a store on Etsy. Whatever it is, try out your idea and see if it works. Watch TED Talks, check out LinkedIn Learning or read books to develop your entrepreneurial mindset. The experience and knowledge you gain from your passion project can help guide your career path.

Study for grad school tests

If you’re planning on going to graduate school, use your downtime this summer to get a head start on studying for exams. Taking your entrance exams early in the semester can give you plenty of time to submit applications or retake the exam before deadlines if you’re looking to improve your score.

Take care of yourself

While it can feel like you should be productive and use every second of summer to advance yourself, remember to focus on self-care—especially when many of us may be feeling exhausted at the end of this academic year. Professional development comes second to your mental and physical well-being. Find balance by getting 7-9 hours of sleep, eating regular meals, finding time for physical activity and staying in touch with friends and family. For more tips on this, visit the Health and Wellness Services website.